How tour the Grand Canyon in four hours or less

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The Grand Canyon (Source: National Park Service) The Grand Canyon (Source: National Park Service)
South Entrance Station (Source: National Park Service) South Entrance Station (Source: National Park Service)
The park runs four color-coded routes every 10 to 15 minutes. (Source: National Park Service) The park runs four color-coded routes every 10 to 15 minutes. (Source: National Park Service)
O'Neill Butte as seen from Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park (Source: National Park Service) O'Neill Butte as seen from Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park (Source: National Park Service)
Mather Point (Source: National Park Service) Mather Point (Source: National Park Service)
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Grand Canyon is just a 3-1/2- to 4-hour drive from the Valley, so visiting the canyon could realistically be done in a day. If you only have a short amount of time, no problem! The National Parks Service says most people only spend half a day at the canyon, so here's how you can take in all the sights in four hours or less. 

After entering the South Entrance Station, you'll want to start at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. It's located right on the Rim Trail, which is 13 miles long. Take comfy shoes, because walking will definitely be on the agenda.

The Rim Trail, which you can explore at your own pace, will lead you to countless scenic overlooks on a paved path, or you can park and ride.

[PDF: Rim Trail]

"Once you're in the park you don't need a car," explains Bruce Brossman, marketing director of Xanterra, which owns many of the park's amenities. At this location, visitors often see wildlife. Elk herds will sometimes roam the parking lot, and they seem to be very used to the tourists. Here, visitors can also rent a bicycle for an hour or more and peddle their way around the rim, or they can grab a ride on a free shuttle.

[SLIDESHOW: Field Trip Friday visits the Grand Canyon]

The park runs four color-coded routes every 10 to 15 minutes. The purple route is not running right now, but it will be available again in May.

If you only have two hours, the NPS recommends the orange route.

The blue route will take you to the Village restaurants and connects with the most popular and scenic red route, which will take you to eight lookout points, and will go all the way to Hermits Rest.

"This is a pretty busy route," says Ranger Vanessa Ceja of the National Park Service, who suggests you come early in the morning for this route. 

The total roundtrip, with stops at scenic overlooks, will be at least four hours.

Some of the stops you'll want to make along the way include, El Tovar for lunch and to purchase souvenirs, the Hopi House and Verkamp's Visitor Center. You'll also want to check out Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio near Bright Angel Path. They both offer incredible views and rich history lessons. 

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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