Grand Canyon
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Grand Canyon: Tours & Tickets

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5 geological facts about how the Grand Canyon was formed

Whether you see it from above by helicopter, below by boat, or choose to tour its hiking trails by foot, Arizona's Grand Canyon is one of North America's most breathtaking sights. Here's a step-by-step guide on how it came to be!

The rise of the Kaibab plateau

The rise of the Kaibab plateau

When the Kaibab plateau was forced upwards 35 million years ago, the ancestor of what is now the Colorado River was diverted away from its previous route towards the Pacific Ocean.

The formation of Lake Bidahochi

The formation of Lake Bidahochi

The river's new route saw it empty into the Gulf of Mexico. Volcanic activity caused this river to become obstructed as well, creating a vast lake.

Rivers reunited

Rivers reunited

Eventually a path was eroded through the Kaibab plateau, accelerated by the last ice ages, and the old Pacific-ward segment of river was reconnected to the rest of it.

The emergence of the Little Colorado River

The emergence of the Little Colorado River

With a steeper route heading west now open, the waters of the ancient Lake Bidahochi were drained, leaving just a deep crevice through which the Little Colorado River now runs.

It never stops!

It never stops!

Though the bulk of it formed during this epoch, continued erosion and rock falls have expanded the canyon further still. It may look very different in another 35 million years!

Our insider tips

When to visit?

April to early June is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon, arriving just in time to make the most of the rising temperatures before the intense heat and bursts of rain that come with summer. September and early November are also good times to go if you want to avoid the peak-season crowds before it gets too cold!

What to pack?

The weather can be unpredictable so pack rain gear even if it's gorgeous when you set out. In summer, the cool canyon breeze can also disguise the heat of the sun's rays, so be sure to wear sunscreen even if it doesn't feel necessary. Bring plenty of water, too, of course, and light snacks. Trust us, you'll be better off topping your energy up as you go rather than setting out after a heavy meal!

What to wear?

When it's hot, cover up in light, airy fabrics rather than revealing tops and shorts, as you'll be highly exposed to the sun. Sunhats and sunglasses are also a must in summer, and comfortable walking shoes are essential at any time of year. Make sure your feet don't slip around in them either, or the steep canyon trails may result in bloody toes!

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    The South Rim is open all year round, the North Rim is only open from May 15th to October 15th.
  • Is it expensive?
    An individual permit is $12 and is good for 7 days.
  • Will I need a guide?
    There are some great tours available! Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.
  • How to get there
    By car you can take a scenic drive through the Kaibab National Forest, or sit back, relax and take the Arizona Shuttle.
  • Additional information
    There are several free admission days, so check the website before your visit! |
    Don't forget that if you are bringing a car, you'll have to pay for a vehicle permit, as well.

What people are saying about Grand Canyon

Overall rating
4.6 / 5
based on 4,508 reviews

This was an amazing experience that my parents and I will remember for a lifetime. We were very lucky to have Pasquale as our tour guide with my parents and five other travelers. Pasquale not only drove us to the Grand Canyon West rim, he was a super knowledgeable, enjoyable tour guide. He went above and beyond to make sure everyone was enjoying the experience. He volunteered to take photos of all of us and made sure he accommodated all of our needs. I especially appreciated how kind he was to my parents. I absolutely recommend this to anybody who want to take their parents or families to the beautiful Guano Point in the west rim of the Grand Canyon for half a day and see the amazing sunset. Food and water was provided, as well as, non-alcoholic sparkling cider to be enjoyed for that perfect sunset photo with your significant other or family members. This is something that everyone at all ages can enjoy like my 60 something year old parents.

From Las Vegas: Grand Canyon West Sunset Tour Reviewed by

We took this tour out of flagstaff. They picked us up at our hotel and gave us good information about what we were seeing on the ride to the Grand Canyon. Great information about Flagstaff(Dinning, night life, etc). The grand canyon was great and was they led us to some of more scenic sites. Our guide, Burton, was extremely knowledgeable of the area and formations. His descriptions were incredibly detailed and he obviously has a love for the area. It was a fun day.

it was an amazing trip, Grand Canyon is beautiful and the bus ride to Canyon was definitely entertaining. We were dissapointed because we were suppose tour the Hoover Dam aswell, was part of the bus tour and thought that we would get some type discount, but we didnt, that was the only negative. Our bus driver name was Anthony, he was AWESOME!!!!

Grand Canyon West Bus Tour Reviewed by

Trip was pretty awesome and the bus ride to and from was probably the most entertaining part. Our bus driver’s name was Dirk and he was a wealth of information and spoke the majority of the ride to the Grand Canyon. Well timed stops and he even safely slowed down enough so we get a quick glimpse of the Hoover Dam.

Grand Canyon West Bus Tour Reviewed by

As first time visitors to the Grand Canyon we decided on this tour company because of the good reviews. Donna in customer service was very helpful in getting us on next day tour in less than 24 hours. Our tour guide Dom was very informative and funny, even helped us take some pictures and a great driver.