Grand Canyon National Park
Eastern Grand Canyon
Much of the Grand Canyon is protected in Grand Canyon National Park and is managed by the National Park Service, a federal agency within the Department of the Interior. Part of the northwestern Grand Canyon is protected in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, which is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, another agency of the Department of the Interior.
Grand Canyon from Space
Grand Canyon National Park News Releases
The southwestern quarter of the Grand Canyon lies within the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Lower Havasu Canyon and Great Thumb Mesa are part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The Navajo Indian Reservation lies adjacent to the east boundary of the national park.
Kaibab National Forest covers part of the Coconino Plateau south of the national park and part of the Kaibab Plateau north of the national park. The forest is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a federal agency of the Department of Agriculture.
Portions of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and the Kaibab National Forest are National Wilderness areas. See the Explore page for more information on the monument and the reservations.
For the visitor to the Grand Canyon, the effect of these different managing agencies is that the rules change as you move into a different jurisdiction. The wilderness areas are managed primarily for preservation, and motorized equipment and permanent man-made structures are not allowed. Most of the national park is managed for preservation, but portions, mainly on the rims and at Phantom Ranch within the canyon, are managed to provide amenities for visitors. The national forest is managed for multiple uses, including logging, mining, and motorized recreation.
The two Indian reservations are managed by the tribes for the tribal members, which includes providing some access for visitors. For details on the history of the national park and the other management units, see People and the Canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park website
Is All of the Grand Canyon in the National Park?
Not quite. Grand Canyon National Park covers 1,218,376 acres (493,077 hectares). Grand Canyon runs generally east to west, and is bounded by the north and South Rims. The park includes all of the North Rim and about half of the South Rim, as well as Marble Canyon to the northeast. Most of the park's five million visitors spend their time at the South Rim, at Grand Canyon Village, and on the West Rim and Desert View drives. Despite the names, the Grand Canyon Village area is actually located along the southeast rim of the Grand Canyon.
Visitation and Amenities
Each year, four to five million people visit Grand Canyon National Park. Ninety percent of these visitors go to Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. The South Rim has most of the park's amenities and is easiest to reach. About ten percent of park visitors go to the North Rim. Relatively few get to remote areas of the park, such as Toroweap or Point Sublime.
Other visitors float down the Colorado River from Lee's Ferry at the head of Marble Canyon on river trips lasting from a few days to several weeks. The river provides the easiest access to the wilderness backcountry of the Grand Canyon.
Two maintained trails provide access to the canyon itself from the Grand Canyon Village and North Rim Village areas. Another dozen or so unmaintained trails provide further access to the Grand Canyon's wilderness from points along the South Rim scenic drives, and from remote dirt roads on the North Rim. This trail network covers only a small portion of the park. Away from the trail network, all the hiking is cross-country which requires fitness and experience in desert hiking.
Access to most of the two rims, other than the Grand Canyon Village and North Rim Village areas, is by long, remote dirt roads, most of which are not maintained for passenger cars. Only those visitors who have appropriate high clearance vehicles and are equipped and experienced back-road desert travelers should attempt these roads.
Within the national park, regulations have been designed to protect the park. In general, disturbance or removal of any natural object, plant, animal, or historic object or structure is prohibited, as is the possession of loaded firearms. Camping is allowed only in campgrounds. A permit is required for overnight or longer backpacking trips, for camping in the backcountry, and for river trips. See the Hiking and River Running pages for details.
National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. -Wallace Stegner