There is no greater natural wonder than the Grand Canyon. This past May (2012) we spent seven great days on the south rim. A visit to the Grand Canyon is something everyone should do even if for only afew hours.
The south Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most visited part of the park. Crowds in the summer can be overwhelming. In early May the South Rim was busy but not crowded. I would estimate that 75% of the visitors during our stay were from other counties. I've been told that in the peak season during the summer it can take from 30 to 45 minutes to get through the entrance gate of the park.
We arrive about 1:00 pm on a Saturday in early May. The line at the gate was short and it only took about 10 minutes to get through the gate. The entrance fee at the gate is $12.00 (2012) and is good for both the North and South rim for 7 days. Be sure and hang on to your receipt. If you plan on coming in and out during your stay you will need to get back in and to avoid the line cars waiting to pay. Even though we were in the park 7 days, we never left during our stay.
There is a wide variety of lodging option at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, everything from luxury hotels, to cabins, to campgrounds with full hookups to campgrounds with no hookups all located within walking distance of the canyon rim. All reservations for these facilities are handled by Xanterra South Rim, LLC, the primary in-park concessioner for Grand Canyon. If you are so inclined you can camp at designated sites in the canyon with a permit from the National Park Service. We stayed at Trailer Village, the RV campground with full hookups.
One thing that all these lodging options have in common is you better make reservations and make them early.
The best way to see the Grand Canyon for most of us is on foot. Trails range from strenuous hikes down into the canyon to leisurely strolls along the rim trail, some of which is designed for walker, bikers and even folks in wheel chairs.
The best part of the transportation system on the south rim is the bus system. It consists of three interlocking bus routes that cover almost all the trail heads and scenic overviews available on the south rim.
The buses start running at 4:30 am for those early birds hiking in the canyon until 10:00 pm. All you do is locate a bus stop and wait. Buses come by every 15 minutes most of the day and every 30 minutes in the early morning and late evening. The buses can accommodate wheel chairs and bicycles. Have a bad knee that really bothers you at the end of a long day? Not a problem, the buses have a "kneel" feature that lowers your step up considerably. The buses are free and you have unlimited ridership. Do you want to drive your own car? You can but where you can drive is limited. Most of the south rim is limited to bus traffic. So what we did was ride the bus to a nice canyon overlook, get out, take a few pictures, enjoy the view at our leisure then when we were ready we caught the next bus and went to the next spot. The only time we drove our own vehicle was when we went out the Desert View observation are to watch the sunset. Its 25 miles from Grand Canyon Village (still in the park) and the buses don't go that far. All the bus drivers are also helpful for information about where things are and which bus to catch to get where you want to go.
Then there is the Grand Canyon Railroad. That is another whole adventure I hope to do someday. Be sure and checkout their website for more information.
If it were not for Texas the Grand Canyon would be part of Mexico.
Update: 10 April 2020