These excursions (Box 699, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, 928/638-3283, www.grandcanyonlodges.com) will show you the sights of the South Rim and present the Canyon's history, geology, wildlife, and architecture. Hermits Rest Tour (two hours, $16.25) visits viewpoints on Hermit Road. Desert View Tour (just under four hours, $28.50) travels along Desert View Drive. Begin or end the day with sunrise or sunset tours (1.5 hours, $12.25 each). Children under 16 go free with a paid adult. You can purchase the Desert View Tour and any of the other excursions for $35 and take the tours on separate days if you wish.
Railroad Express ($49 adult, $29 children 16 and under) drives you to Williams early in the morning to catch the train ride back to Grand Canyon Village; note that the train trip doesn’t provide Canyon views. A raft trip (12 hours, $115 adult, $64 age 12 and under) runs the smooth-flowing Colorado River in Glen Canyon from the dam to Lees Ferry mid-March-early Nov.; the tour also includes highlights along Desert View Drive and in the Navajo Nation. Tours in the park leave daily (twice a day in summer for the Hermits Rest and Desert View tours). Lodge transportation desks sell tickets.
Grand Canyon Jeep Tours & Safaris (Tusayan, 928/638-5337 or 800/320-5337, www.grandcanyonjeeptours.com, March-Oct.) visits backcountry historic and scenic spots in the Kaibab National Forest and the Grand Canyon. The two-hour Canyon Pines Tour departs mid-day for $48 adult ($35 age 12 and under). The three-hour Grand Sunset Tour goes late in the afternoon—a good time to spot wildlife—and includes a stop to watch the sunset for $59 ($45 age 12 and under). The Indian Cave Paintings Tour visits a site with petroglyphs and pictographs in the Kaibab National Forest at $40 adult ($30 age 12 and younger).
Grand Canyon Field Institute (Box 399, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, 928/638-2485, www.grandcanyon.org/fieldinstitute) leads small groups to explore the Grand Canyon with day hikes, backpacking, river-running trips, van tours, and classroom instruction. You can pick up a schedule at the Grand Canyon Association bookstores in the park.
Flights over the Canyon provide breathtaking views and a look at some of the park's remote areas. About 40 scenic flight companies operate helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft here, mostly out of Las Vegas. The 50,000-plus flights a year sometimes detract from the wilderness experience of backcountry users—Tusayan's airport is one of the busiest in the state. However, restrictions on flight routes and elevations help minimize the noise. Scenic flights depart all year from the Tusayan Airport area. Helicopters fly near rim-level and offer the novelty of their takeoffs and landings, but they cost much more. Fixed-wing aircraft fly about 1,000 feet higher and provide more airtime for your dollar; they also offer better children's discounts. Air Grand Canyon departs from the main terminal, while Grand Canyon Airlines and the helicopter companies fly from separate terminals nearby.
Grand Canyon Airlines (928/638-2407 or 800/528-2413, www.grandcanyonairlines.com) started flying here in 1927 with Ford Trimotors. Today the company uses high-wing, twin-engine planes on a 45- to 55-minute loop over the South Rim, Little Colorado River, and back over the North Rim ($99 adult, $79 children under 12). Planes leave from just north of the main terminal.
Air Grand Canyon (928/638-2686 or 800/247-4726, www.airgrandcanyon.com) flies high-wing Cessnas with a choice of a 45- to 50-minute loop over the eastern Canyon and North Rim ($125 adult, $105 children 12 and under) and a 90- to 100-minute grand tour of the Grand and Marble Canyons to Lake Powell ($249 adult, $229 children 12 and under).
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters (928/638-2419 or 800/528-2418, www.papillon.com) flies across the Canyon to the North Rim (25-30 minutes, $125 adult, $105 children 2-11) and over the eastern Grand Canyon and North Rim (45-50 minutes, $179 adult, $159 children 2-11). Helicopters fly from a site north of the main terminal and across the street; a gift shop and photo lab are here.
Grand Canyon Helicopters (928/638-2764 or 800/541-4537, www.grandcanyonhelicoptersaz.com) heads across the Canyon to the North Rim (25-30 minutes, $175 adult, $155 children 2-12) and a loop over the eastern Grand Canyon and North Rim (50 minutes, $235 adult, $215 children 2-12) from the hill just east of the main terminal.
Maverick Helicopters (928/638-2622 or 888/261-4414, www.maverickhelicopter.com/canyon.html) will take you across the Canyon to the North Rim and back (25-30 minutes, $175) and over both the eastern and North Rim areas (50-55 minutes, $235) from the hill just east of the main terminal.
The park offers free shuttle services to reduce traffic congestion. Look for the schedules in The Guide newspaper, free at entrance stations and information desks. Hermit Road and the Yaki Point/South Kaibab Trailhead road are closed to private vehicles except in winter (Dec.-Feb.), but handicapped people can obtain a permit at the Visitor Center to drive their own vehicles.
Village Shuttle connects Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Yavapai Observation Station, campgrounds, lodges, shops, and offices of Grand Canyon Village; buses operate daily year-round about every 15-30 minutes from early morning to late at night. The route takes about one hour roundtrip.
Hermits Rest Shuttle leaves from a transfer station just west of Bright Angel Lodge and goes to Hermits Rest with stops at overlooks along the way; it operates daily every 15-30 minutes from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset. The trip out and back takes 75 minutes if you don't get off. This shuttle doesn't run Dec.-Feb., at which time the road is open to private vehicles.
The Kaibab Trail Shuttle connects Grand Canyon Visitor Center with the South Kaibab Trailhead, Yaki Point, and Pipe Creek Vista from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset every 15-30 minutes daily year-round; the roundtrip takes 30 minutes. A Hikers Express departs 2-3 times daily in the early morning year-round for the South Kaibab Trailhead from the Bright Angel Lodge and the Backcountry Information Center.
Trans-Canyon Shuttle (928/638-2820, mid-May-mid-Oct., $65 one way, $110 roundtrip) offers daily roundtrip van service between the South and North Rims; it departs from the Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim at 7 a.m. and arrives at Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim by noon; the return trip leaves the South Rim at 1:30 p.m. and arrives at the North Rim by 6:30 p.m.
Taxi and Auto Rentals
Transportation Dispatch (928/638-2822) and Grand Canyon Coaches (928/638-0821) provide taxi services in the Tusayan and Grand Canyon Village areas and go out to some trailheads. Enterprise Rent-a-Car (928/774-9407 Flagstaff or 800/736-8222) will deliver or pick up a car at the Tusayan airport for an extra $150 each way.
Arizona Shuttle (tel 520/795-6771 or 800/888-2749 Tucson services; 928/226-8060 or 877/226-8060 other services, www.arizonashuttle.com) connects the Grand Canyon, Williams, Flagstaff, Sedona, Camp Verde, Phoenix, and Tucson.
Grand Canyon Railway (800/843-8724, www.thetrain.com) will transport you in vintage railway cars from downtown Williams to the 1909 log depot in Grand Canyon Village in the morning, then return in the afternoon. Trains run daily except December 24th and 25th. Steam engines lead the way in summer, then diesels are used the rest of the year. See the Williams section for the many options and entertainment provided. Transportation desks in the lodges have a tour that combines a bus to Williams with the train back to the Grand Canyon.
The airport just southwest of Tusayan offers scheduled flights, fixed-wing scenic tours, and a gift shop.
Scenic Airlines (928/638-2617 Grand Canyon, 702/638-3300 Las Vegas, or 800/634-6801, www.scenic.com) flies Twin Otters from North Las Vegas Airport at least twice a day year-round and offers tour packages. Fares run $141 one way, $282 roundtrip.
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