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Things to do in Grand Canyon

Itineraries for Your Trip to Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park locals share their perfect days.
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3 Days in Grand Canyon National Park for First Timers

Curated by Jacqueline Kehoea travel writer specializing in US national parks.

While I've never encountered a national park that didn't strike me as a worthy masterpiece of Mother Nature, only one has been deemed a “wonder of the world,” and that’s the Grand Canyon. When I step onto the rim, I can’t help but feel both small and a sense of immense wonder—after all, in just this one spot, I'm staring at millions of years of Earth's history.

You’ve got three days to let this unlikely spot truly sink in, which is more than enough to walk away with a world-class national park experience. Here’s what to do.

Cold winters, scorching summers at canyon bottom—be prepared for anything here.

If you only have time to do one thing, make it the Bright Angel Trail.

Day 1

Start your trip off by catching the sunrise from Mather Point and watch as the canyon changes colors. Then, take a hike, perhaps down the challenging Bright Angel Trail, which descends some 2,000 feet (609 meters) below the South Rim via lots of graded switchbacks.

If you did opt to go down, you deserve to go up. Hop on a helicopter tour to see it all from a bird’s-eye view, taking in the huge ponderosa pines of Kaibab National Forest and the mighty Colorado River. Some tours navigate through Dragon Corridor, the canyon's deepest section.

Day 2

You’ve seen the Grand Canyon from above and below. Now, how about from the water? Adventure-seeking travelers should consider whitewater rafting the Colorado with an Indigenous guide. Most tours go for some 40 miles (64 kilometers), with stops at waterfalls and hidden viewpoints.

For some well-deserved R&R, enjoy a long, leisurely dinner at the historic El Tovar Dining Room, right on the Rim Trail (book well in advance). Afterward, take a walk along the South Rim as the sun sets. Bring a jacket to stay out and stargaze—the Grand Canyon is a certified International Dark Sky Park.

Day 3

Give the East Rim a visit on your last day—that’s where you’ll find the 26-mile (42-kilometer) Desert View Drive, Tusayan Ruin & Museum (an 800-year-old ancestral Puebloan village), and Desert View Watchtower. The park has thousands of archaeological remnants that speak to the canyon’s long-standing Indigenous history.

Or, if you’re headed back to Vegas, head out early for the West Rim, on the Hualapai Reservation, about four hours from the South Rim and two hours from Vegas. This is where you’ll find the epic Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that extends 70 feet (21 meters) out over the rim. Tour through the Native American Village at Eagle Point too.

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