loading 0%

Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Grand Canyon: 10 Secret Gems to Avoid the Crowds

Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Grand Canyon: 10 Secret Gems to Avoid the Crowds

The canyon, which turns 100 this year, sees 6 million annual visitors. An Arizona travel writer reveals how to get off the beaten track

The Grand Canyon is already a pretty famous hole in the ground in Arizona. Now, with Grand Canyon national park celebrating its centennial in 2019, it’s receiving an additional jolt of publicity. Six million people visit each year, and if you happen to be there on a holiday weekend, it feels like you’re stuck behind all of them.

Yet here’s the thing – Grand Canyon is big, an immense tear in the earth’s fabric 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. So it’s not hard to find privacy if you know where to look. Here are some tips to get you started.

The view from Shoshone Point.
The view from Shoshone Point. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Shoshone Point: the South Rim’s best-kept secret

How to get there: Shoshone Point is inside the national park and begins from a small parking lot on the north side of Desert View Drive, 1.2 miles east of Yaki Point

Only a few canyon visitors know the unmarked trail to Shoshone Point. Unless a “Closed” sign is posted (weddings are sometimes held here), walk down the one-mile dirt road through open forest where deer and elk graze. When the timber breaks apart, expansive canyon vistas spread before you. A narrow ridge thrusts out from the plateau, providing views in excess of 180 degrees. Enjoy this private perch far from crowds.

Desert View Watchtower.
Desert View Watchtower. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Desert View campground: an intimate outpost with sunsets and starry skies

How to get there: Desert View campground is located inside the park, 25 miles from the bustle of Grand Canyon Village.

Desert View puts the Grand Canyon on a personal level. Perched just yards from the yawning South Rim amid a clutch of pines, Desert View offers only 50 campsites, with no RV hook-ups. The little outpost sits 25 miles from the bustle of Grand Canyon Village but isn’t completely isolated. The campground is an easy walk from the historic Watchtower, a trading post, and snack bar – so you have some creature comforts while scandalous sunsets and star-laden skies seem to exist only for you. Desert View is open 13 April through 13 October on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Grand Canyon turns 100: rare photos of life and adventure

Read more

Grand Canyon Field Institute: find hundreds of classes and guided hikes

How to get there: Classes can be booked online or by phone and take place throughout the park.

See the canyon in brand new ways when you sign up for a Grand Canyon Field Institute outing. The Institute is part of Grand Canyon Conservancy, the non-profit partner of the national park. They conduct more than 360 classes and guided hikes each year led by expert instructors, and range from easy day hikes to photography workshops to yoga retreats to multi-day backpacks to Colorado River rafting trips.

The Grand Canyon’s Rim Trail.
The Grand Canyon’s Rim trail. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Rim trail: miles of solitude with epic panoramas

How to get there: The Rim Trail stretches along the edge of the South Rim from Hermits Rest to South Kaibab trailhead.

This gem hides in plain sight. The 13-mile long path is mostly paved. Away from the hubbub of Grand Canyon Village, hikers enjoy soothing solitude. Find a shady spot and pick your own personal overlook to savor the epic panoramas. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch.

Grandview trail: an advanced hike that plunges below the rim

How to get there: Grandview is inside the park; the trail begins at Grandview Point along Desert View Drive

Experienced hikers who want to dip below the rim without encountering a stream of mules and people: try Grandview Trail. Built in 1892 by the miner Pete Berry, this engineering marvel features upper sections still braced by logs and steel rods. The trail plunges three miles in a series of cruelly steep switchbacks to the top of Horseshoe Mesa, where remnants of Berry’s Last Chance Mine can still be found.

The view from Roosevelt Point.
The view from Roosevelt Point. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Roosevelt Point: stunning views of the lesser-known North Rim

How to get there: Roosevelt Point is inside the park at the North Rim, located on Cape Royal Road, about halfway between Bright Angel Point and Cape Royal.

103-year-old woman becomes Grand Canyon ranger: ‘I enjoy every minute’

Read more

The whole North Rim is a hidden gem. Only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors make the long spectacular drive to reach this side of the Big Ditch. (The North Rim is only open 15 May though 15 October.) Those who do are rewarded with lush forests and green meadows. Cape Royal Road makes a winding scenic drive along the canyon edge. At Roosevelt Point viewpoint, folks enjoy vistas from the parking area but for the more adventurous, a slender path skirts the rim, then drops to a saddle before scrambling up to a rocky ledge. It’s a narrow neck of land, a quiet place where the canyon sprawls beneath your feet.

The East Cabin at Pipe Spring national monument.
The East Cabin at Pipe Spring national monument. Photograph: Wayne Hsieh / Flickr

Pipe Spring national monument: discover life in the old west

How to get there: Pipe Spring national monument is outside the park, 15 miles west of Fredonia, Arizona, on State Highway 389.

An intriguing side trip when you visit the North Rim, Pipe Spring national monument is a 40-acre speck near the Utah border. The natural spring held sacred by Native Americans was discovered in 1870 by Mormon pioneers, who constructed a fort to protect the water source, and it became an important stop for weary travelers. Pipe Spring later served as a refuge for wives hiding from federal marshals enforcing anti-polygamy laws. Today the monument offers a vivid look at Native American and pioneer life in the old west.

Lees Ferry on the Colorado River.
Lees Ferry on the Colorado river. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Lees Ferry: a picturesque fort by the Colorado river

How to get there: Lees Ferry is 43 miles west of Page, Arizona, on US Highway 89A.

Although located outside the national park, Lees Ferry marks the beginning of the Grand Canyon. Mormon leaders established a ferry here because it was one of the few places where wagons could be driven to the Colorado river. Today, it is the put-in spot for Grand Canyon rafting trips. Visitors can hike a handful of scenic trails, explore the picturesque ruins of an old fort and wander back to the oasis of Lonely Dell Ranch, the original Mormon homestead, where the orchards are heavy with fruit. Anglers come for the remarkable fly-fishing.

Little Colorado River Navajo tribal park: vistas en route to the canyon

How to get there: Little Colorado River Navajo tribal park is 12 miles west of Cameron on State Highway 64, just before reaching the east entrance of Grand Canyon national park.

Most Grand Canyon visitors arrive via the south entrance near the town of Tusayan. Those who drive to the eastern entrance at Desert View will enjoy fewer crowds and a stunning scenic drive dotted with canyon overlooks. Even before visitors reach the national park, there’s another worthwhile stop along the way. The small tribal park west of Cameron peers into the deep narrow gorge of the Little Colorado river as it crosses the Navajo Nation. Tribal members display arts and crafts here in roadside stands.

Coal Mine Canyon Grand Canyon
Coal Mine Canyon. Photograph: Roger Naylor

Coal Mine Canyon: The Grand’s smaller, blazingly colorful cousin

How to get there: Coal Mine Canyon lies east of Tuba City, Arizona. Specific directions are revealed with the purchase of a permit from the Navajo Nation.

A much smaller canyon, albeit one that bursts with color, lies east of the mighty Grand. Coal Mine Canyon straddles the Navajo and Hopi reservations east of Tuba City. Multihued spires, columns and hoodoos punctuate the defile. Named for a thin seam of coal near the top that was mined as needed by tribal members, the canyon offers no amenities. Visitors must be accompanied by a Hopi guide (tours can be arranged by phone or email) or have a permit from the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation department. The closest permit location is the tribal visitor center in Cameron.

  • Roger Naylor is an Arizona travel writer and member of the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame. He is the author of several books, including The Amazing Kolb Brothers of Grand Canyon

By : Sunjet Date : November 18, 2023 Category : Popular Comments :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Book with us today and save up to 60% on hotels and flights worldwide.
Search Now