NPS Photo

Hiking and rafting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

Travel + Leisure
September 05, 2012

On more than one million acres on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and one mile deep. The canyon’s South Rim, off Hwy. 64, is an easy escape from the glitz of Vegas, and more accessible than the North Rim. Open every day, it’s best visited during the spring, summer, and fall, but book your stay in advance—it’s busiest this time of year, too.

Grand Canyon National Park

Geological history, dramatically summed up in one 5,500-foot-deep abyss. If you drive to the South Rim yourself, leave your car in Tusayan and take the shuttle into the park. At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, decide on an easy tour or an ambitious hike.

El Tovar Dining Room

The View: Soak in two billion years of geologic history—layered in slivers of deep orange, dusty violet, moss, and gray—from the dining room at the El Tovar Hotel, set about 50 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. While a few windows look out over the canyon, the restaurant’s Canyon Room offers some of the most direct views; diners can look across the arid landscape to the North Rim.

The Food: Southwestern flavors are woven into the menu, from buffalo carpaccio on roasted poblano crostini to wild Alaskan salmon tostada with organic greens and tequila vinaigrette.

Tip: Table requests are accepted, but coveted tables go fast and are first-come, first-served. For easy access to the best tables, go to breakfast in the dining room, when reservations are not accepted or necessary, or drink in the views with cocktails on the hotel’s veranda.

El Tovar Hotel

Built in 1905 and fully renovated in 2005, the elegant hotel is one of the country’s most revered national park lodge treasures and has hosted the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and Albert Einstein.

Grand Canyon Railway

Take the scenic evening train journey from Williams, AZ, north to the Grand Canyon on the vintage, 50s-era stainless-steel cars. Book seats in a Parlor Class car, which offers a private bar and open-air rear balcony.

Arizona River Runners

Three-day rafting trips along the Colorado River, from $725 per person.

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