As we enter the height of summer and peak traveling season, whether the choice is to immerse yourself with different world cultures or just exploring destinations within our own backyard of the United States, any traveler’s goal is to capture memorable one of a kind experiences. If you have the good fortune of being in a position in which money is no object, let’s select an iconic American destination with suggestions in elevating your getaway.
One of the most recognized and celebrated natural wonders of the world, located in the beautiful state of Arizona is The Grand Canyon National Park. Even before the adventure of being up close and personal, a traveler flying over the Canyon will be stunned by the absolute grandness and perfectness of rock formations carved over some 6 million years by geological activity and erosion of the Colorado River.
There are a number of ways to get to the Grand Canyon by airplane. The airports that only accommodate private or chartered aircraft include: 15 minutes drive to the Canyon’s South Rim is the Grand Canyon Airport (GCN) or Sedona Airport (KSEZ) which is a little over a 2 hour drive. Airports that offer both limited commercial service and private or chartered aircraft include either the smallest commercial airport to the Canyon’s South Rim (92 minute scenic drive) , Flaggstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) or Prescott Ernest A. Love Field (PRC) which is an approximate 2 hours and 25 minute drive. Finally the largest airports that accommodate both major commercial flights from all over the globe and take 3-4 hours driving time are the Pheonix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) or one of the 8th busiest airports in the U.S., the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS).
Accessibility to rental cars agencies are plentiful or alternatively, leave the driving to others and reserve shuttle or private car service at any of the above mentioned airports. There are a number of tour services that will accommodate visitors who prefer a professional to be their guide while getting them from point A to point B during their stay.
Staying in 4 or 5 star accommodations gives you a number of options, however, you will compromise proximity to the Canyon versus preference of over the top luxury accommodations. The closer properties around the canyon will offer historic and clean accommodations that add to the rustic atmosphere of being near the true star of the show.
If proximity to the Canyon is the number one priority then the Grand Canyon National Lodges owned by Xterra Travel Collection will offer several alternatives for your stay. The Grand Canyon National Lodges consists of six distinct properties (their seventh property, the Grand Lodge is a mile away) located in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, with the only property, the Phantom Ranch nestled at the bottom of the Canyon Rim which can only be reached by hiking, mule or rafting and provides the ultimate in rustic living with the choice of dormitories or lodges for more privacy. This hotel is in such high demand that it requires entering a lottery for prime reservations a year out.
On the other end of the Xterra properties spectrum is the elegant El Tovar, considered the crown jewel of the Grand Canyon National Lodges was designed and built in the early 1900s to accommodate the elitists and has hosted numerous dignitaries and celebrities including Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey to name a few. The suites are in such high demand that the property will only accept phone reservations.
allThe resorts and hotel properties all within a 3 – 4 hour drive to the Canyon provide ultra indulgent experiences. So, if your desire is to enjoy the beauty of the Canyon, while simultaneously enjoying a luxurious stay, there are a several properties that are located with a 3-4 hours drive from within Arizona or the adjacent state of Nevada including:
- Spanish inspired designed Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale Arizona
- About 2 hours of driving time, L’Auberge de Sedona offers private woodsy cottage
- The luxurious high rise Westin Pheonix Downtown
- The Phonecian in Scottsdale situated on the edge of Camelback Mountain offers a USGA 27 hole golf course and 11 tennis courts with various surfaces
- Contemporary designed Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa
- Megaresort JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa in Phoenix
- Intimate setting in the Sonorian Desert is The Four Seasons at Troon North in Scottsdale
- Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa in Scottsdale
For adventurers, there are a number of companies such as Under Canvas or Scott Dunn Exceptional Travel that host “glamping” or luxury camping experiences offering guests memorable exclusive camping experiences in which the company sets up the decked out tents providing luxury style accommodations with queen or king sized beds, real toilet facilities, and private decks for star gazing. All your dining needs are handled along with customized activities to satisfy your every desire in experiencing the Grand Canyon.
Visitors with deeper pockets have opportunities to experience the canyon in a number of unique ways. The array of activities that can be organized for your stay, whether through a “glamping” tour companies or a resort properties, Canyon activities are plentiful: Hiking, mountain biking the Rim, rafting the Colorado River , Canyon Helicopter Rides to view parts of the Canyon up close and personal from 1000 feet above; wildlife viewing, horseback riding, kayaking, canyoneering (which involves a variety of techniques that may include walking, scrampling, climbing, jumping abseiling and swimming while traveling in canyons), Skydiving, or skiing/ snowshoeing mainly on the North Rim during the winter months.
Keep in mind, that this year, the Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday and has schedule special events and programs to celebrate and showcase the park’s history, and the people and ecosystem that are impacted by our backyard treasure. -AJ
Hat Tip to below websites for content sources:
Thank you to the photographers of Pixabay who provided the beautiful pictures of the Grand Canyon
Skeeze Colorado River