How to Spend 3 Days in Grand Canyon National Park
With three days in Grand Canyon National Park, you’ll be able to see all the highlights and also have time for a day trip to Arizona’s other top attractions, like Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell. Here are just a few ideas for how to make the most out of your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Day 1: Sightseeing on the South Rim
Kick off your trip to Grand Canyon National Park by rising early and watching the sunrise at Mather Point. Take a hike along the rim or head down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail while the temperature is still cool. Next, head to the Yavapai Geology Museum for a crash course in the history and geology of the Grand Canyon, or browse the historic photographs at the Kolb Studio.
In the afternoon, splurge on a helicopter tour so you can really grasp the enormity of the Grand Canyon. Alternatively, take the shuttle out to Hermit’s Rest, and then hike back to the Grand Canyon Village along a more remote section of the Rim Trail, which is also a perfect spot to catch the sunset. End the evening with a luxurious dinner at historic El Tovar Dining Room. (Book a table well in advance of your visit.)
Day 2: Exploring Ancestral Puebloan Ruins
Spend your morning exploring the sights at the East Rim, also known as Desert View. Grand Canyon National Park has thousands of ancient archaeological sites, and at the Tusayan Ruin, you can view the remains of an 800-year-old ancestral Puebloan village. Stop by the Tusayan museum to learn about the lives of the ancient people that made their home here, and don’t miss the views of the Colorado River from the Desert View Watchtower, a replica of an ancestral Puebloan tower.
In the afternoon, browse traditional Native American crafts and jewelry at Hopi House, in Grand Canyon Village, then head out for a night of stargazing at the rim, which has reliably clear skies and low light pollution. The park offers occasional astronomy talks and stargazing events during the summer months.
Day 3: Arizona Highlights or West Rim Daredevilry
Having checked off the main Grand Canyon attractions, you’ll have time to explore the wonders outside the park on your last day. Opt for an Arizona highlights tour and visit famous landscapes such as the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River, the stunning Antelope Canyon, or the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. You can also choose river rafting, flightseeing, and canyoneering tours at some of these sites.
Alternatively, visit the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is outside the national park and operated by the Hualapai tribe. The West Rim is home to the Skywalk Bridge, a remarkable glass bridge that allows guests to walk out into the middle of the canyon suspended in the air, and is also the only region where commercial aircraft can land on the canyon floor.