Grand Canyon National Park welcomes almost 5 million visitors each year. The South Rim of the Canyon is the most accessible and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The North Rim is generally open from mid-May through mid-October and closes due to the winter storms. As the South Rim is so busy during the summer months, parking and traffic congestion can be a problem, so the Park offers a free shuttle system in the Grand Canyon Village area to alleviate traffic.
Grand Canyon National Park offers museums, guided tours, mule trips, backcountry hiking, river trips, ranger programs, art exhibits and a regular calendar of events and presentations throughout the year.
Save time by purchasing your gate pass with us! The Valle Travel Stop, located adjacent to the Grand Canyon Inn, is an official Grand Canyon National Park Pay Station. As part of your Grand Canyon Vacation, the Valle Travel Stop is the perfect place to shop, purchase snacks and cold drinks, and shop for Grand Canyon souvenirs and Native American Art. We offer everything you need to complement your Grand Canyon Vacation including Chevron gas and diesel fuels, picnic/camping supplies, a food-court, film and camera supplies, clean restrooms, bus and RV services, an ATM, and of course you can purchase your Park Entry Passes with us to bypass the lines at the Gate!
Located just 23 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, we invite you to stay at the Grand Canyon Inn, dine in our Grand Canyon Inn Restaurant (serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily), and relax at our Grand Canyon Inn Cocktail Lounge.
One Stop Does It All!
Plan your Grand Canyon vacation! Check back here often to find out what’s new at Grand Canyon National Park. For a more detailed schedule of daily events at the Grand Canyon you may click here to visit our Grand Canyon Schedule Calendar. For complete listings of services, activities, tours and events, visit the official Grand Canyon National Park website.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most well-known locations in the world, both for its unsurpassed natural beauty and grandeur, and its sheer size. Carved and sculpted by the waters of the Colorado River, most of the Canyon is located within Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona, a few hours north of Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon is actually part of a system of canyons that extends up into Utah.
Grand Canyon National Park was one of the first national parks that was created in the United States, thanks largely to the admiration and enthusiasm of President Theodore Roosevelt who was a frequent visitor to the Grand Canyon for hunting and sightseeing.
The area comprising Grand Canyon National Park is about 277 miles in length, and ranges from four to eighteen miles in width, reaching a depth of over one mile. Due to the carving waters of the Colorado River, almost two billion years of the earth’s natural and geological history have been exposed; both from the cutting of the river and the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. This combination of cutting and uplift allowed for the creation of such a deep canyon. During the last Ice Age, weather conditions increased the amount of the water flow of the Colorado River, which allowed for faster and deeper cutting into the earth.
These exposed ancient rocks from the Proterzoic and Paleozoic eras beautifully present the early geologic and biological history of the North American continent. This is one of the most complete exposed geologic columns on the planet. While recent theories present different timeframes for the creation of the Grand Canyon, ranging from millions of years to short periods of cataclysmic earth changes, prevailing thought is that the Colorado River established its course about 17 million years ago and created the vast canyon landscape we see today.
The Grand Canyon exposes a slice of the earth’s history ranging from the two billion year old Vishnu schist at the bottom of the Inner Gorge, up to the 230 million year old Kaibab limestone layer, which comprises the canyon’s rim. Many of these rock formations are the result of warm shallow seas, beach environments, and swampland that existed in this area in the ever-changing environment of proto-North America.
Before Europeans first arrived, the lands surrounding the Grand Canyon were inhabited by Native Americans who built structures and settlements around the rim as well as within the Grand Canyon itself. The first European known to have viewed the Grand Canyon was Garcia Lopez de Cardenas in 1540, under the orders of conquistador Francisco Vazquez de Coronado who was searching for the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola. Led by Hopi guides, Lopez and his small band of Spanish soldiers first saw the Grand Canyon on the South Rim, between Desert View and Moran Point. After this visit, no Europeans are known to have traveled to the Grand Canyon for over two hundred years.
In the 1800s, there were intermittent visits to the canyon by trappers, military officers, and religious missionaries, but due to the ruggedness of the area it was all but impassable and considered a wasteland.
On maps of the time, the area of the Grand Canyon was blank and labeled as “unexplored.” Indeed, this area was as mysterious and inaccessible as Atlantis, until Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell and his party embarked on the last great exploration of the American West in 1869. Setting off in wooden rowboats from Green River Station, Wyoming, Powell and his companions explored the rivers and canyons through Wyoming, Utah, and the Grand Canyon in an epic adventure that claimed the lives of four of the original ten-man expedition. In 1875, Powell published his account of the adventure under the title “The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons,” which introduced the country and the world to the wonders of the Grand Canyon.
Today, Grand Canyon National Park attracts an average of five million visitors a year. While most go simply to view the canyon from the rim, there are many other activities to have a truly memorable Grand Canyon experience. Hiking in the Canyon is one of the best ways to see it, but for the more adventurous there are river outfitters who offer raft river trips down the Colorado.
Plan the Valle Travel Stop and the Grand Canyon Inn as part of your Grand Canyon vacation! Located just 23 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, we provide Chevron gas and diesel, a convenience store grocery, a gift shop to find your perfect Grand Canyon clothing and souvenirs, a Native American art gallery, a food court, bus and RV services, lodging at the Grand Canyon Inn, dining at the Grand Canyon Inn Restaurant (serving Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner daily) and cocktails at the Grand Canyon Inn Cocktail Lounge.