After the winter we’ve all slogged through, it feels like warm weather and summer road trips can’t come fast enough. One popular destination? Grand Canyon National Park. This iconic natural wonder is deserving of every accolade and is a must-stop on everyone’s travel bucket list. If you’re planning a girls getaway on a budget, here are 5 tips to get the most out of your visit to this truly remarkable site.
1.) Consider spending some time in Flagstaff
Of all the towns close to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is the most affordable and offers the most diverse attractions. The nearby university gives Flagstaff a decidedly young, fresh, hip feel and there are tons of cool eateries and up and coming art galleries. There are several National Monuments nearby. The Lowell Observatory is among the finest in the world. And there’s a huge range of accommodations. Budget focused gals will appreciate the range of brand name, economical hotels and motels, while those seeking more luxury will enjoy deluxe bed and breakfasts and inns.
2.) Enter through the East Gate
Savvy Go Girls can follow this tip to avoid the crowds and lines. If you are arriving from Flagstaff, you’re perfectly situated to enter the park’s South Rim from the lesser used East Gate. Arriving early in the morning at the East Gate will save you hours of waiting in line compared to a mid-day arrival at the South Gate. The $25 per car admission price is good for 7 days entry but if you’re considering visiting more than a few National Parks, the $80 America the Beautiful pass might be more economical for you.
3.) Say Hello to Mary Jane Colter
Colter was an imaginative, inspiring, ground breaking architect and many of the Grand Canyon’s most renowned buildings are her projects. Be sure to stop into her Watchtower (just inside the East Gate!), as well as the Hopi House, the Lookout Studio and the Bright Angel Lodge.
4.) Yes! There ARE bargains inside the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon’s lodges are the stuff of architectural legend but while you could spend a small fortune for a canyon view room at El Tovar, a slightly more humble room at the Colter-designed Bright Angel Lodge is only around $100-$150 a night. Forgo an en-suite bathroom in favor of a spotless communal bathroom and you could pay as little as $80 a night and still be only 50 feet from the rim of the canyon. Come morning, the Bright Angel Pub is an affordable coffee shop, offering the best breakfast prices in the park and excellent lattes
5.) Safety first!
Even short excursions in the Grand Canyon must be undertaken with careful planning and preparation. Seek advice from the Rangers and respect their expertise. Come prepared with plenty of water, snacks, extra clothing, and emergency supplies (including maps, matches, and a first aid kit). A guided trip to the bottom of the canyon by donkey and mule needs to be booked months – and sometimes a year – in advance. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to relax during your trip. It can be tempting to rush between activity and excursion but part of the Grand Canyon’s appeal comes from relaxing and taking in the view.
Here’s to less snow, more sun, and planning the road trip of a lifetime! And if you do make it to the Grand Canyon, be sure to drop by the Arizona Room for a Cactus Lemonade (vodka! prickly pear syrup!) and have a glass for me!