Grand Canyon National Park South Rim
If you don't mind bumping elbows with other travelers, you'll be fine on the South Rim. This is particularly true in summer when camera-toting day-trippers converge en masse, clogging its roads and easiest trails. Why is this rim so popular? Easy access is the most obvious reason: it's a mere 60 miles north of the I-40. Abundant infrastructure is another.
Page & Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
An enormous lake tucked into a landlocked swath of desert? You can guess how popular it is to play in the spangly waters of Lake Powell. Part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the country's second-largest reservoir was created by the construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. To house the scores of workers an entire town was built from scratch near the dam.
Kaibab National Forest
No canyon views, but no crowds either. Divided by the Grand Canyon into two distinct ecosystems, this 1.6-million-acre forest offers a peaceful escape from the park madness. Thick stands of ponderosa dominate the higher elevations, while piñon and juniper create a fragrant backdrop further down.
Wedged between the Grand Canyon and Utah, the vast Arizona Strip is one of the state's most remote and sparsely populated regions. Only about 6000 people live here, in relative isolation, many of them members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), who defy US law by practicing polygamy. At 14,000 square miles, the region is larger than the state of Vermont.
The blue-green waterfalls of Havasu Canyon are one of the Grand Canyon region's true treasures. Tucked in a hidden valley, the five stunning, spring-fed waterfalls here – and their inviting azure swimming holes – sit in the heart of the 185,000-acre Havasupai Reservation.
The little town of Tusayan, situated 1 mile south of the park's South Entrance along Hwy 64, is basically a half-mile strip of hotels and restaurants. The National Geographic Visitor Center & IMAX Theater is a good place to regroup – and buy your park tickets – before arriving at the South Entrance.
Hualapai Reservation & Skywalk
Home to the much-hyped Skywalk, the Hualapai Reservation borders many miles of the Colorado River northeast of Kingman, covering the southwest rim of the canyon and bordering the Havasupai Reservation to the east and Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the west. In 1988 the Hualapai Nation opened Grand Canyon West, which is not part of Grand Canyon National Park.
Marble Canyon & Lees Ferry
About 14 miles past the Hwy 89/89A fork, Hwy 89A crosses the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River at Marble Canyon. Actually, there are two bridges: a modern one for motorists that opened in 1995 and a historical one from 1929. Walking across the latter, you'll enjoy fabulous views down Marble Canyon to the northeast lip of the Grand Canyon.
About 25 miles south of the park, Valle marks the intersection of Hwy 64 to Williams and Hwy 180 to Flagstaff. There isn't much to it apart from a couple of curiosities, as well as a gas station, minimart and rooms at the Grand Canyon Inn. This family-run motel offers standard rooms, a restaurant and a heated outdoor pool.
From Marble Canyon, Hwy 89A climbs 5000ft over 40 miles to the Kaibab National Forest and the oddly lakeless outpost of Jacob Lake. All you find is a motel with a restaurant, a gas station and the USFS Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center. From here Hwy 67 runs south for 44 miles past meadows, aspen and ponderosa pine to the Grand Canyon North Rim.