You are strong and beautiful, you stand tall, are full of surprises and you are famous around the world. Dear Grand Canyon, I have a confession to make… when I first saw you I got butterflies in my stomach, my legs were shaking and couldn’t stop staring at you… for hours! You got me and will remain in my heart forever….

My first trip to the grandest of canyons was about 10 years ago, when my parents decided to take me and my brothers on our first big trip outside Europe. It was then that we stopped dreaming about Americana and actually lived our phantasy! We had a car, a map, a camera and a lot of time. Yes, everything was perfect… at least that’s what we thought. Down to a silly fault with the camera (sadly not until we developed the shots back home) it happens that we haven’t got a single photo from those lovely days. All we had left from the trip were wonderful memories which since have been getting a bit blurred.

Even years later my parents were still complaining about this silly camera-failure and couldn’t believe that they didn’t capture a single one of the silly ridiculous embarrassing fun poses we did standing in front of Grand Canyon. But destiny took its toll and so, when I got the chance to spend a semester in the Californian surfer town of San Diego, my parents came to visit me and we decided to take another turn venturing off to the Grand Canyon.

This time around however our camera was digital.

Just like it did ten years ago the view took my breath away (you know… shaky legs, butterflies, etc). But apparently I was not the only one who felt this strong feeling of fascination – everyone around us seemed to be just as speechless and there was a lot of cooing of Oh’s and Ah’s accompanied only by the noise of non-stop clicking camera shutters.  But despite all canyon beauty I did not forget to look around and alas! I spotted a reindeer!

Here 5 things you should know about Grand Canyon

1. Facts and numbers

Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and reaches a depth of over a mile. It has been carved by the Colorado River and attracts about 5 million visitors each year (essentially the entire population of Singapore).

2. When to go

The best time to visit Grand Canyon is between March and May, when the temperatures are still bearable. During summer the heat really builds up and can make trips very exhausting – during these heat waves it is advisable to keep off the track between 9am and 4pm and drink plenty of water. On top of the heat, there are often heavy thunderstorms in the evening from the beginning of mid-June.

During winter on the other hand temperatures drop rapidly and it is freezing! Nevertheless the landscape still looks like from out of a fairytale, when a thin layer of snow covers the colorful plateau of the canyon.

3. Rims

The most common attraction point is the South Rim, which is open all year round. South Rim also holds a variety of historical buildings and sights, such as the old railway, offering a great view above Grand Canyon Village, Hermits Rest and Desert View. But not just the view is stunning, the huge shadows covering the stony canyon plateau are impressive as they shift slowly throughout the day.

Apart from the South Rim there is also a North, East and Wet Rim, all less accessible for visitors but commonly sought after by hikers and explorers.

4. Camping

If you want to go camping at Grand Canyon, you should know that there are strict rules about campfires. You are not allowed to gather wood within the park and you are only allowed to light a campfire within the fire ring at your campsite. Bringing your own wood is allowed and there are a couple of places from where you can buy wood for your campfire.

5. Activities

Many visitors experience Grand Canyon as a scenic drive through the beautiful landscape. They include driving or hiking up to some of the viewpoints, maybe a short stop at the visitor centre and finish off the Canyon visit at one of the many souvenir shops or with a dinner at one of the lodges. But Grand Canyon has so much more to offer and could easily turn your visit into the trip of your lifetime. You like to seek the thrill, get dirty and sleep on the ground? Why not try a rafting tour through the canyon with world-class rapids, excitement guaranteed! Alternatively there are many climbing tours available, as well as hike trips and mule rides. Or what about experiencing Grand Canyon from above … from inside a helicopter?

To get taken away by the immense size and the beauty of Grand Canyon I recommend you have a look at this video. And to finish off I’d like to leave you with some more pictures that I took during my last visit.

Cannot get enough of the Grand Canyon? Have a look at our previous articles: My day at Grand Canyon or Travelettes TV: Road Trip Tales from the Grand Canyon