Our guide to the unrivaled beauty of the Grand Canyon National Park
This breathtaking natural wonder in northern Arizona is the largest canyon in the USA. The Grand Canyon National Park contains over 275 miles of fractured landscape, estimated to have been formed over 70 million years ago. Standing on the edge of the rift, you start to gain an appreciation for the raw power of the Earth. The layered colors of the splintered surface inspire every traveler who makes the journey to see it.
There are many stunning hiking trails around the south and north rims of the canyon, each one presenting new and unforgettable scenes that are not to be missed. In this guide, however, we will set aside the impressive walking routes and focus on the greatest drives and most convenient campsites in the Grand Canyon National Park. Discover the easiest ways to experience the best of the Grand Canyon with your campervan!
The Best Grand Canyon Driving Routes
Most visitors to the Grand Canyon come to walk along the edge and look across the rocky valley. While this is definitely recommended, it can lead to the astonishing driving routes being overlooked. These scenic roads wind along the canyon’s edge and offer countless unique views over the vibrant landscape.
Desert View Drive
Starting from the Grand Canyon Village, the Desert View Drive winds its way along the eastern rim. This 23-mile route sets a dramatic backdrop for any driver, with unending incredible sights and six vista viewing stops. The beauty stops allow drivers to get out of their vehicles and fully take in their surroundings. Grand View Point is a great spot, where sweeping views of the canyon’s rock formations are on display. Moran Point shows off the Grand Canyon’s shifting tones. Navajo Point is near the end of the drive and stands as the highest stop on the southern side of the canyon.
This shorter route also begins at the Grand Canyon Village, but this time it heads west. Hermit Road is a 7-mile stretch of scenic vistas that is popular for hikers and drivers alike. If you visit in the middle of the summer crowds, you might find it easier to park your campervan and see the canyon from within an airy shuttle bus. Memorable stopping points along Hermit Road include Maricopa Point, where you can see both the canyon and an inactive mine, and Hopi Point, which offers a wide view over the colorful Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.
Cape Royal Road
If you’re coming in on the north side of the Grand Canyon, then Cape Royal Road is your best choice. A small route, it is no less splendid for the vibrant panoramic views that spread out before you on your drive. The most impressive stop is Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint on the northern rim. From here, you can see older parts of the Grand Canyon. The ancient cliffs are layered in red and black from rocks formed over 500 million years ago. You can also park your campervan along the main road and talk a small walk on the Cliff Springs Trail. This is an easy route for hiking beginners and leads to fascinating archeological sites.
See the Canyon From a Different Perspective
Although witnessing the canyon from the top is an experience everyone should have, there are few who plan ahead so they can see things from a completely different angle.
There is no easy way to drive through the bottom of the Grand Canyon, especially because the historic roads are located on tribal lands and require permits to be used. Anyone fit enough to make the climb down, however, is able to do so. The main trail is called Bright Angel and descends over 4,000 feet to the Colorado River. This river is another great way to see the Grand Canyon from the ground up. Tour boats and rafting groups bring people along the winding, sometimes choppy stream. These tours should definitely be organized in advance if you are hoping to take the river route as they become very popular in the summer months. You can also book a mule ride to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and relax as you enjoy the shifting colors on your journey down.
Where to Camp Overnight
One of the best experiences of camping here is that you can actually spend the night inside the Grand Canyon National Park. There are two main campsites located on the south side of the rift, in Grand Canyon Village. One caters to small truck campers while the other accommodates larger motorhomes and RVs. Both of these sites are served by a shuttle bus that runs between them and the Visitors Center.
A spacious campsite, Mather Campground has over 300 picturesque spots dotted around the shady pine trees. At only a mile from the edge of the Grand Canyon, this is a perfect place to keep your vehicle as you explore the great park. The Mather Campground is a natural space and has no electrical hook-ups available, although running water, bathrooms, and waste stations are scattered around the site.
Trailer Village RV Park
The nearby Trailer Village RV Park is where people driving larger campervans, motorhomes, or RVs should stay. You can also book here in a camping vehicle if you need a full hook-up, which includes electricity, water, and waste. Laundry facilities are available but there is no WiFI in the RV park. There are fewer pitches here, so make sure to reserve a spot in advance.
The Grand Canyon Awaits…
One of America’s greatest natural wonders is ready for another wave of summer tourists. That’s why you should get there before the crowds and the heat arrive. Book your campervan now and start planning your epic road trip to the Grand Canyon National Park.
If you’re fortunate enough to own your own RV, motorhome, or campervan, then look into how you can earn extra income by renting out your vehicle to fellow travelers when it’s not in use. Join us here on Friday for our latest Campervan Survival Guide: How to keep your kids entertained on a road trip!