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    I’m an Arizona native. I always see first-timers make these 8 mistakes at the Grand Canyon.

    The author (not pictured) has visited the Grand Canyon many times.

    JeffGoulden/Getty Images

    I live in Arizona, and I’ve visited the Grand Canyon with my family multiple times.First-time visitors often don’t give themselves enough time to explore or skip visitor centers. Don’t forget to pack for drastic weather conditions and download the National Park Service app.

    The first time my family visited the Grand Canyon, we pulled over at a popular lookout, ogled over its sheer size and vastness for an hour, took pictures, then drove home.

    But we knew there had to be more to visiting the Grand Canyon. After all, it welcomed over 4.7 million visitors in 2023 and 2022.

    Fortunately, we’ve had more chances to go back since we live in Arizona.

    Since then, we’ve made more meaningful trips to this iconic national park and found that most first-time tourists make eight common mistakes when visiting the Canyon.

    Some tourists aren’t aware there are 4 entrances to the Canyon

    Returning same-day on the Grand Canyon Railway will limit your itinerary, but it’s still a worthwhile experience.

    KrissAnn Valdez

    The North Rim, open May through October, is less touristy and offers breathtaking vantage points. Grand Canyon West features the world-famous Skywalk, a glass walkway on a canyon’s edge.

    However, significant drive times between these two entrances make them less approachable for first-timers.

    I recommend starting at the seemingly less popular East Entrance and taking the Desert View Drive, a 23-mile scenic road. Along the way, stop at sights like Duck on a Rock, Grandview Point, and Moran Point, then end at the South Rim’s famous Grand Canyon Village.

    Another way to access the South Rim is via The Grand Canyon Railway, which begins in Williams, Arizona. The ride takes a little over two hours, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

    My family took the train during a heat wave, so we opted for the vintage Pullman rail car during the breezier morning and an air-conditioned car on the return trip.

    Visitors forget to enjoy the sweeping views from multiple vantage points

    Once you’re in Grand Canyon Village, board a complimentary shuttle. Located throughout the village, they run about every 20 minutes on seasonal schedules.

    I highly recommend taking the Hermits Road route, accessible via the red-line shuttle. It will bring you to many great overlooks, including Mohave Point, Abyss, and Hermits Rest.

    Since the shuttle is hop-on,hop-off, tourists can take their time at each viewpoint before boarding the next available bus.

    A lot of people don’t give themselves enough time to see everything on their itineraries

    The Grand Canyon can get crowded, so give yourself more time to explore than you think you need.

    Courtesy of Myers Video Production

    Summer is peak tourist season here. With thick crowds, be prepared for shuttle lines and traffic congestion.

    To make the most of your trip, start your day early — a sunrise over the Canyon is a must-see! — and consider staying overnight at one of the lodges or campsites, which should be booked far in advance.

    First-timers often skip the visitor centers and the historic lodges

    The visitor center has an introductory 20-minute video on the Canyon, the junior ranger program, and helpful guides.

    And wandering through the lodges at the South Rim was a true highlight of our last visit. The lodges offer a sense of the park’s history since its earliest days of tourism in the late 19th century.

    El Tovar Hotel — built directly on the rim — first opened in 1905. A cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa, this charming architecture has hosted notables such as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, and Oprah Winfrey. The hotel also has the only fine dining in the park, with a small veranda overlooking the South Rim.

    Another favorite of mine is the rustic-style Bright Angel Lodge, first established in the 1890s. You can also dine here or meander through its gift shop.

    Tourists don’t plan for drastic weather conditions

    Depending on the season, temperatures can range from below-freezing to triple digits, so plan accordingly.

    Bring a refillable water bottle (water stations are throughout the park), a waterproof jacket/poncho, wide-brimmed hat (or beanie for colder days), and comfortable shoes.

    I wish more visitors stayed cautious and respected the Canyon

    Don’t ignore the warning signs.

    Anthony Baylor/Getty Images

    With so many steep drops and high temperatures, the Grand Canyon can be dangerous, and people have died or gotten hurt while visiting.

    Don’t attempt a trail without training and proper gear and footwear — and watch out for icy conditions in the spring and high temperatures in the summer.

    Also, be aware that wildlife, such as deer, squirrels, and mountain lions, call the rim their home. Keep your distance, and don’t feed them.

    Overall, just be cautious, and remember, no photo opportunity is worth your life.

    Many hikers overlook the fact that trails are easier to go down than up

    All trails start with steep switchbacks, a section of trail for climbing a steep hill, and many underestimate the time and energy it’ll take to get back to the rim until it’s too late.

    Give yourself more time than you need, and consider choosing a stopping point instead of hiking the full trail.

    On my last trip to the South Rim, I strapped my 5-month-old into the baby carrier, grasped my 5-year-old’s hand, and hiked with my husband about a ½ mile down the Bright Angel Trail to enjoy the scenery.

    Because we’d determined a stopping point beforehand, we didn’t overdo it, and now we have bragging rights that we “hiked” the Canyon.

    Don’t underestimate the power of the National Park Service app — or a paper map

    The National Park Service app is available offline and includes activities, interactive maps, up-to-date news, alerts, park tours, and more.

    Even so, we still carry a paper map with us when we go to the Grand Canyon. It’s available for free at the visitor center or when you check in to any of the hotels and lodges.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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