Note: This is blog/website content originally written for IMAX
So you don’t have time for a day-long adventure or a multiple-day guided journey through the Grand Canyon but would like to get more than a quick glimpse at the majestic natural wonder? If this is the case, joining one or more of the naturalist guided excursions that depart daily from the National Geographic Visitor Center is an ideal option.
“The Best of the Canyon: Interpretive Walk/Driving Excursion” is the perfect introduction to the Grand Canyon. This driving and walking tour takes visitors to multiple scenic vistas along the South Rim and historically significant sites related to Native American culture and the early explorers of the Grand Canyon. The guide also provides insight about the canyon’s natural history.
The excursion includes stops at locations like Grand Canyon Village, which is the home of the Bright Angel Lodge and history room.
One of the sites at the village is Kolb Studio, which clings to the edge of the Grand Canyon. Brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb founded the photography studio in 1903 at the Bright Angel trailhead and gained their notoriety as the first men to make a motion picture of the Colorado River amid its entire course through the Grand Canyon.
Today, historic Kolb Studio is open year-round. It features an exhibit venue, bookstore, and information center operated by the Grand Canyon Association, a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from sales at the bookstore are used for the continuing restoration and care of the building. Fully remodeled in 2004 for the Kolb Studio Centennial, the bookstore now contains a tribute to the Kolbs’ photography of mule riders at the Grand Canyon.
Another village attraction is Lookout Studio, which is housed in a stone building and constructed in 1914 by the Santa Fe Railway as a photography studio to compete with the Kolb brothers. Lookout Studio operates as a gift shop and an observation station for visitors, featuring high-powered telescopes on its outdoor terrace.
Among the other stops on The Best of the Canyon tour are Grandview Point, a vista where visitors can marvel at the inner canyon’s numerous temples and buttes; the Tusayan Ruins and Museum, which showcase the remnants of a small Anasazi village dating to the late 1100s; and other spectacular scenic views such as Shoshone Point, Desert View and the Watchtower.
Stops each day vary because of factors like weather, the season of the year, the volume of the crowds and tripe leader discretion.
To offer a more personal tour with the trip leader, groups are limited to 18 (nine people per trip leader). Appropriate footwear is required since the tour involves walking along uneven trails. Since most of the journey will be held under direct sunlight, guests are encouraged to dress for the occasion and wear ventilated headgear. Trip leaders provide snacks and water.
Cost for the “The Best of the Canyon: Interpretive Walk/Driving Excursion” is $90 per adult and $50 for children 12 years and younger. The price includes free admission to the Grand Canyon IMAX movie.
Tours depart from the National Geographic Visitor Center at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon daily at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
The National Geographic Visitor Center (www.explorethecanyon.com) serves as a destination and a resource for the most comprehensive selection of information about Grand Canyon area hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and sightseeing and outdoor activities.
The National Geographic Visitor Center features a 500-seat IMAX Theater which shows “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” a 2,500-square-foot National Geographic outfitter store, the famous Condor Encounter Live Bird Show, National Geographic exhibits and maps, and national park interpretive services and park passes. The facility also includes a 140-seat restaurant, National Geographic Expeditions sightseeing tours and the Arizona Office of Tourism.