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Best Outdoor Activities in Grand Canyon

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Closely interwoven bands of layered rock skirt a sea of gigantic ancient boulders, coming together to form a surreal panorama that melts into Arizona's vast landscape. From high above the topmost point of the canyon, the mighty Colorado River appears as a muddy sliver, belying the tumultuous nature of its waters that carved through ancient layers of rock and birthed the steep canyons surrounding it. Over several millennia, the river snaked its way through the rugged landscape, constantly deepening and pushing the edges of the canyon, oblivious that its aggressive course unraveled years of geological history. For years, the canyon was home to indigenous Native American tribes, before Spanish explorers and American trappers settled into the river basin. Today, the Grand Canyon continues to instill a deep sense of wonder and mystique in whoever visits it, an eternal ocean of auburn rock that spreads majestically under deep blue skies.

Each year millions of visitors to the Grand Canyon get their first spectacular, panoramic view of the natural wonder from the lookout at Mather Point. At an elevation of 7,120 feet, this viewpoint overlooks Pipe Creek Canyon and the Inner Gorge of the Colorado River. From this point sightseers can hike the South Rim Trail, which leads west to Yavapai Point. The Canyon View Information Plaza, open daily, is located at Mather Point. Restrooms, bookstore, pay phones and shuttle bus stops are close by.

Running parallel to the South Loop Road, this trail is as close to the Canyon's edge as possible. Classified as a trail of moderate difficulty, it is the perfect choice for most people who are relatively fit, and are looking for a challenge. The trail extends from South Kaibab Trailhead on the east end of the village to Hermit's Rest on the west. The panoramic views throughout the hike is simply unparalleled, and provides the most memorable moments and pictures of this titanic natural wonder.

Formed over millions of years, this national monument extends for more than 294,000 acres and it is considered by most geologists to be a geologic treasure. With the towering cliffs, deep canyons and fantastic sandstone formations inside the Paria Plateau, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. One of the most popular attractions in the area is The Wave, however to visit you will need a permit to hike the Coyote Buttes North, the Coyote Buttes South, or stay overnight in Paria Canyon.

Covering more than 55,000 acres, this second-largest canyon in northern Arizona is a scenic wonder well worth exploring. Home to mountain lions, black bear and Arizona's state animal, the ringtail cat, the wilderness area also has historic Indian ruins, swimming and fishing, and terrific hiking and horseback trails. Visitors can drive along the Rim Trail or backpack farther into the gorge.

Of the eight lookouts along the West Rim Drive, the eight-mile drive that runs west of the Grand Canyon Village to Hermit's Rest, the fourth stop along this sightseeing route is believed to be the best for viewing sunsets. From this vantage point, you will have an excellent view of the Colorado River deep down at the bottom of the chasm and many of the spectacular geological features of the canyon.

Flanked by the Indian reservations of Hualapai and Hopi, the Kaibab National Forest spreads over 1.6 million acres (650,000 hectares) of prairie forests that are dotted with a host of natural features like lively springs, serene lakes, expansive flatland, and prominent peaks, amongst many others. Established in the year 1909, the forest offers a wide variety of outdoor activities like biking, hiking, and also allows visitors to camp amidst its verdant foliage. The forest is home to several species of animals like elks, antelopes, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, black bears, to name a few. While the terrain is teeming with animals, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, hawks, and bats circle the skies above thus creating a paradise for birding enthusiasts.

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