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2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary: Best of sites & hikes

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The scale of the Grand Canyon is so mind-blowing, that you would never want to miss out on any of the worthy bucket-list attractions found all over this National historic landmark. Here is our epic 2 day Grand Canyon itinerary for an amazing getaway with jaw-dropping scenery.

Two days in this iconic valley in Arizona may seem insufficient, but if you plan properly and don’t delve into special activities, you will be surprised at how much you can see in the short span of time.

This two day Grand Canyon itinerary planner covers exhibits at the canyon visitor centre, educates you about its formation and includes a number of long hikes which covers the major hotspots of this National Park.

2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary: Trip preparation

Grand Canyon 2 day itinerary

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Follow these instructions to prepare yourself for a Grand Canyon grand trip to make the challenge inspiring and not oppressive:

  • If you have new boots, break in your footwear unless you want to discover you have blisters halfway into your hike.
  • Clothes, like shoes, can also irritate, so wear them on any of your training walks.
  • Even if you are walking in the neighbourhood, do it with a pack on your shoulders. After all, you will be carrying one on all your hikes.
  • For a great training goal, find a hill and do multiple laps on it as elevations on the north kaibab trail can reach up to 8,200′.
  • Focus on weight training for legs, shoulders and upper back for hiking and carrying backpacks.

Hotels and tour recommendations

There is plenty of accommodation of all types available in the park, however, the Bright Angel Lodge located in close proximity to the Grand Canyon south rim enjoys better accessibility to some of the beloved hiking trails and other major attractions. Moreover, apart from the superb location on top of the Bright Angel trailhead, the hotel is clean, comfortable and easy on the pocket.

Another good place to stay is the Yavapai Lodge, located near the Canyon Village Plaza Market, hardly half a mile away from the visitor centre and a mile away from the rim trail.This simple lodge has 16 rooms, a bit small by usual standards, but are comfortable and surrounded by woodlands.

Two day Grand Canyon itinerary

While the North Rim has its own charms, most people make the South Rim their exploration point.This is because this place has better accessibility, more vistas, museums and ranger services.

Day One-Morning

Assuming you are arriving very early on the first morning, drive in through the Desert View entrance. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the sun rising over the canyon from the Desert View watchtower. Then continue along Desert View Drive, while stopping at all the viewpoints along the way.

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon Village park at your hotel or campground in order to save time, you won’t need it for the rest of your trip as the amazing shuttle service will take you around the place for free.

Have lunch at any of the restaurants in the village.The lines will be long and the food is good, but ridiculously overpriced. Don’t try and leave the park looking for a cheaper option as getting back will take up a lot of time.

Day One-Afternoon

Spend your first afternoon exploring the many hotspots of the village.The Bright Angel Trail is a leisurely walk along the South Rim, where there are halts on the way for souvenir shopping.

Continue on the trail from the Verkamp’s Visitor Centre towards the Yavapai Geology Museum. The hike explains about the geology of the area and is a top attraction on your first day Grand Canyon trip. To learn more about the history of the creation of the Grand Canyon, stop by at the Geology Museum.

End your first day with a visit to Mather Point. As this is one of the most popular spots in  Canyon National Park, there will be crowds of people getting on and off the shuttle buses. By going later in the afternoon, the crowds will be less and views more enjoyable.

Day One- Evening

After a hard long day, treat yourself at the elegant El Tovar Hotel which has the  finest dining restaurant in the whole of Grand Canyon. It may be the most expensive place in the south rim, but they also serve the best food.

Take a good night’s rest as your second day is going to be a lot more demanding than the first.

Day Two- Morning

Starting from the Bright Angel trailhead, take the seven mile hike on Hermits Road. You will find plenty of good lookout points on the way. Hike slowly in order to enjoy the scenery.There is a picnic area and restrooms at Hermit’s Point. After a bit of rest, catch a bus back to the Canyon Village.

Have lunch at the Yavapai Tavern, which for a park restaurant is quite good.Their sandwiches and antelope burgers are good and bar selection excellent. You will find long lines on weekends, but the orders pass quickly.

Day Two-Afternoon

For the most memorable part of your trip, spend the rest of the day hiking into the Grand Canyon. Few people attempt this hike and you should not be the one to miss out on it. Take enough water, snacks and avoid the high heat period.Give twice the time to hike out of the canyon than you take to hike inside it.

It is recommended to take the South Kaibab Trail, where the views are better than the Bright Angel Trail. Both the trails are tough and you should only go as far as you feel comfortable.

Day Two- Evening

On the last evening head to the Bright Angel Bicycles & Mather Point Cafe, an upbeat outlet serving coffee, soups and drinks with a focus on seasonal ingredients.They are also a tour and bike rental company to cruise some of the awesome routes of the south rim, should you choose to ride one.

Day trips from Grand Canyon

Opt for a helicopter tour, which not only provides unbeatable views of the canyon but gets you away from the hordes as well. An exhilarating forty five minutes aerial flight will whisk you away in no time from the south rim to the north rim. From the large panoramic windows, enjoy surreal views of the Colorado river and the giant ponderosa pines of the Kaibab National Forest.

Considered as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is best seen on a historical railroad tour. Board the historic Grand Canyon Railway at Williams for a full day 10 hour journey. While you enjoy wonderful views from the coach, get entertainer by musicians and cowboys on board.

As you arrive at the steps of the south rim, your guide will pick you up and head east across the south rim trail for a four hour tour of the Grand Canyon National Park. You get to see many scenic views from the Desert View watchtower and a visit to the historic Cameron trading post at the Navajo Reservation.

In case you have more time

While this two day itinerary covers a bit of everything that the Grand Canyon National park has to offer, if you have more time we suggest you take some of the many excursions that can be experienced in the Grand Canyon. For example, you can take an aerial tour of the canyon in a helicopter or try out a mule ride.

If hiking is your passion, spend a couple of nights at the Phantom Ranch, located at the bottom of the canyon. You will need to be in good condition to tackle this trip, but it will surely be the hike of a lifetime.

Again if you can find two more days, drive to the North Rim, spend some time exploring, spend a night, explore more the next day and then drive back.

Safety

Every Grand Canyon visitor is advised to take help of the park rangers for a safe and memorable vacation in this National Park. Keep some of these tips in mind:

  • Do not wander off the designated routes and walkways, while keeping a distance of minimum six feet from the edge of the rim.
  • You will find that some areas have railings or fences. Do not attempt to climb over them.
  • Make sure all members of your group, especially children, stay firm on the developed trails and not wander here or there.
  • Do not indulge in any activity or stunts near the rim.
  • Never throw anything over the edge as these objects can cause landslides that may hurt other hikers or wildlife below.
  • If you have brought in trash, take it back with you. There are pickup facilities in many areas around the park.
  • Slow down and drive carefully while exploring the canyon in winter.

Budget

The average daily budget per person information gathered from past travelers indicates that you will need to spend $130 per day on your vacation to the Grand Canyon.That said, the average hotel price for a double room is about $142 per night. Data collected from others says that the cost of food is about $39 and local transportation is $30.

If you are travelling in a large group with kids, then the price will go down further because tickets for children are cheaper and hotel beds can be shared. The cost of food in sit-down restaurants is often higher than street food costs or fast food prices.

The entertainment budget for activities in Grand Canyon National Park will come to about $21 per person, per day. This will include fees for admission to museums and other attractions, day tours and other sightseeing trips.

Packing tips

To ensure your trip is hassle free, here is a list of must-have items to be included on your Grand Canyon adventure:

  • Sturdy and comfortable footwear: Packing for the environment is the key for any successful trip, as you will discover once you see the rugged terrain of the south rim. Since you will be hiking, opt for mid-weight boots with good ankle support.
  • A Hat: Wide brim hat for the summers and a warm one for the winters 
  • Sunglasses: The sun shines brightly throughout the year, so no matter when you decide to come, always pack a pair of sunglasses.
  • Clothing: Shorts and a light tee-shirt are perfect for summers, while jeans and a long sleeve shirt are more appropriate for winters. You can add a light jacket with a hood as well.
  • Sunscreen: Another must-have regardless of the season you plan to visit the Grand Canyon. Here the sun shines brightly, even at the height of winter.
  • Reusable water bottle: Because of the presence of dry air, dehydration is quite common at the Grand Canyon. If you are planning on taking a hike below the south rim, a good rule of the thumb is to carry at least three quarts of water per adult.
  • Snacks: Hiking will make you hungry, so you may have to fuel up from time to time.Carry small packets of trail mix or granola bars, all the more needed if you have children in tow.

Extra tips for 2 days in Grand Canyon National Park

To make sure that every visitor has a positive National Park experience, here are some important things to keep in mind to get the most out of your visit:

  • Before you go, check for temporary closures or modifications which may be in place.
  • Decide on where to spend the night and make a reservation beforehand.
  • If you want to avoid traffic and crowds arrive before 9am or after 5pm.
  • Finding a parking place can be tough, especially for recreational vehicles-so drive responsibly.
  • Pets are not allowed below the canyon rim.
  • Do not approach wild animals or feed them.
  • Hikers should prepare for high heat and rapid changes in elevation.

Park overview

Ten miles wide, one mile deep and 270 miles long, some of the most powerful geological forces have created this breathtaking sight. Much more than the pretty views, the Grand Canyon National Park offers one of the best outdoor adventure trips in North America.

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