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Make Every Minute Count at the Grand Canyon

Tourists at Mather Point in the Grand Canyon.
Photo © Grand Canyon National Park Service, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

The average visitor spends four hours at Grand Canyon National Park (and only 20 minutes of that actually looking at the canyon!). If your time is limited, make every minute count with these four important suggestions.

1. Pre-pay. Avoid lines at the entry stations by purchasing a park pass in Flagstaff, Williams, or Tusayan so that you can enter the park through the faster pre-paid lanes.
2. Prepare. Even if you don’t plan to hike, carry a daypack with essentials—a refillable water bottle, sunscreen, snacks, and maps.
3. Park. Use the park’s free shuttle system. (Driving around the congested village area is a good way to lose time and add stress.)
4. Focus. Hone in on a topic that interests you, and then plan relevant activities. For example, browse the Yavapai Geology Museum, join a ranger-guided geology program, and then hike into the canyon. Even a short foray below the rim offers a fresh perspective on the canyon’s rock layers. Also, multiple visitor centers, gift shops, and overlooks accommodate thousands of visitors each day, so choose one or two of each (and emphasize nature over commerce).
5. Reflect. Take breaks at overlooks or on trails to savor the views or enjoy some solitude. Using all your senses (and not just your camera) will create more enduring memories of your time at one of the world’s greatest wonders.

Sunset from Yavapai Point
Sunset from Yavapai Point. Photo © Grand Canyon National Park Service, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

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