The Grand Canyon, a geological marvel is a wildly popular place. Wide vistas and majestic views attract over 5 million visitors each year. It gets a little crowded. If you’d rather take the road less traveled, there are quite a few hidden gems of the Grand Canyon area. Here are the ten we think are the best.
1. North Rim
95% of the visitors to the Grand Canyon are standing at the guardrail on the South Rim taking pictures and going home. Only 5% of the Grand Canyon National Park visitors go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
According to GrandCanyon.com the North Rim “runs about 10 degrees cooler than the South rim, and supports plant and animal life that the drier South Rim cannot, such as aspen, birch, maple and oak trees, and the Kaibab Squirrel with its metallic gray coat and distinctive tufted ears.”
You can pre-arrange a trip that takes you straight to a secluded ranch area on the North Rim. While you’re there you can choose between exploring the North Rim on your very own ATV, or a take guided tour along the canyon edge with multiple stops for photos.
It is only open from mid-May through mid-October due to heavy snowfall during the winter months. The vistas are different from the South Rim with wide open space rather than views of the Colorado River.
2. Marble Outlook
Photo by US Forest Service
Karen Joy says that “Marble Outlook camping area has breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon area”.
Even though the Marble Outlook area is in Kaibab National Forest, it has amazing views of the Grand Canyon, House Rock Valley, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and Paria Canyon Wilderness. Along with canyon gazing, you can go camping spring through fall and also view the wildlife. To get there… From highway 89A, travel down Arizona 67 south to Forest Road 610 East. Karen Joy has full directions on her site, but it’s a bit tricky, so you may also call the USDA Forest Service’s Visitor Center (928) 635-1418
3. Diamond Creek Road
108 miles of the Grand Canyon are located in the Hualapai Reservation – “People of the Tall Pines”. With a permit, you can drive down Diamond Creek gravel road. It is the only place that a vehicle can get down into the Grand Canyon. Make sure you have four-wheel drive vehicle to drive down the Peach Springs Canyon to the Colorado River. Peach Springs has a picnic area, but no facilities. If you’re keen on driving, learn how to get to the Grand Canyon by car.
4. Solitude of the Tonto Trail
The Tonto Trail doesn’t go from the Rim down to the Colorado River. It is a trail along a shelf of rock, called the Tonto Platform, parallel to the river. It remains at a midway elevation for 70 miles between the Rim and the river. It is less travelled so it can be a beautiful and quiet hike as it twists and turns along the Grand Canyon. There are also many other places to go for a good Grand Canyon Hike.
5. Havasupai Falls
Havasupai Falls has been called the “Shangri-la” of the Grand Canyon. Though it has been featured in calendars and magazines, it usually isn’t on the Grand Canyon tour for the day. Make some time in your trip to go and stop and swim in the calcium carbonate enriched pools as you experience the 100 foot waterfall. If waterfalls are your thinkg, there are even more falls in the Grand Canyon!
6. Secret Cave Behind a Waterfall
Just like in the old time adventure stories, a place exists that is real. The secret hidden cave behind a waterfall! Arizona Phoenix Drone Service uses ‘First Person View’ to utilize aerial videography to ‘take you to places you have never been’. They found this cave is hidden in the heart of the Grand Canyon. The only way to get to this cave is by taking a raft down the Colorado River and climbing into the cave through a waterfall. An adventure seekers dream. The only way to find out how to get there is to ask at arizonafpv.com!
7. Spectacular Secret Grand Canyon View
Check out the maps given out by the National Park Service to see where they have picnic and camping spots along the Rim and you may find when you get there, no one else is there!
Secret Hikes. The 42 mile hike down South Kaibab Trail to Bright Angel campground and then on to Clear Creek trail along Clear Creek to Cheyava Falls, you will see at most 10 people camping while you explore the Grand Canyon floor and spot bighorn sheep and other wildlife.
9. Plan for a week of river rafting
River rafting with stops to explore side canyons along the Colorado River as Garry Hayes did with the spotting of bighorn sheep, ancient traventine rock formations and exploring Shinumo Creek or Blacktail Canyon.
Grand Canyon East or Grand Canyon West are less explored than the South Rim. Grand Canyon East area is less travelled and it has the “Horseshoe Bend” where the river curves almost 360 back on itself around upstanding rock and you can take a picture of the view with you at the Rim and Colorado River in the background.
So when planning your trip to the Grand Canyon, make sure you plan to add a few days extra on to experience the hidden gems of the Grand Canyon area whether you go hiking, rafting or swimming or camping. With Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours, you will get there easily from Las Vegas or outlying areas so you can spend more time in the Grand Canyon. So start planning now to add at least three more days for your Grand Canyon holiday to explore the quiet and beautiful areas less traveled.