Grand Canyon
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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 3,056 reviews

We are so glad we chose to go see the Grand Canyon!

Definitely worth the time and money. Well organized trip! Robert and Leila were our tour guides doe the day and were awesome! We loved how Leila knew so much about different things on the way over and would point them out for us to see! We choose not to take the guided tour, but happened to be following her along the way and she offered to take pictures of our family and even told us where to take some of the best pictures at! She was amazing!

Great fun filled day! Shopping, Hoover Dam, Bridge, Canyon, helicopter

Great fun filled day! Tour guide amazing, people were great. My 71 year old mom and I were able to shop Indian jewelry, see Hoover Dam from ascending Tillman memorial Bridge, Joshua tree forest; fly in and out of Grand Canyon by helicopter, boat the Colorado River in bottom of canyon, and walk the sky walk. Adventures were broken up well to allow my mom to do it all in one day. A trip we won’t forget.

Amazing experience, perfect organization

Our guide Michael was very knowledgeable and provided very good insights during this unforgettable experience. I highly recommend this tour as it covers the key ‘must-sees’ if the area in perfect conditions (seeing the gran canyon at dawn is just priceless!).

Antelope & Grand Canyon Sunrise Tour Reviewed by

Great experience! Helicopter and boat ride were amazing

The bus ride was long with too many bathroom stops. Bus A/C not working and no video system. Driver and our tour guide Derek were fabulous and compensated but all together we were on the bus for 11 hours with only 3 hours at Grand Canyon.

Great heli ride to GC floor but left little time for Skywalk & lunch.

Helicopter and boat experience was great. But for spending the extra money I felt a bit cheated having to rush thru Skywalk and lunch. 3 hours was simply not enough time to include it all.

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