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What Are the Different Types of Grand Canyon Tours?

Rafting is popular at the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is in Arizona, which is located in the American West.
There are a variety of ways to tour the Grand Canyon.
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  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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The Grand Canyon, which is a mile (1.6 km) deep and located in Arizona in the southwest United States, is one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders. There are a variety of tours to choose from when planning to visit the Grand Canyon, which became a national park in 1919 to protect the canyon and is one of the earliest in the U.S. national park system. Educational tours, air and bus tours and outdoor adventure tours are among the types of tours that allow visitors to see the park from many perspectives.

Educational Grand Canyon tours are offered by the Grand Canyon Field Institute. This organization leads participants on hiking, backpacking, rafting and camping trips that focus on the canyon's geology, history and ecology. Educational tours also are available through the Institute and are focused on photography, archaeology and more. Ranger-led walks and hikes introduce visitors to different aspects of the canyon's native peoples and its flora and fauna. These ranger-led tours are available at both the north and south rims of the canyon.

Airplane and helicopter Grand Canyon tours allow visitors to get a birds-eye view of the area. These tours begin outside of Grand Canyon National Park, and several of them originate at Grand Canyon Airport. Many of the air tours can be conducted in languages other than English, such as Chinese, German, French, Japanese and others.

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Bus tours drive visitors through Grand Canyon National Park in air-conditioned comfort. Jeep tours take smaller groups of visitors into various parts of the canyon. Visitors to the Grand Canyon can go back in time by taking a railway tour to the canyon aboard the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona.

Visitors who prefer authentic horsepower can travel by horse or mule along the canyon’s rim or into the canyon. Horse and mule Grand Canyon tours last from an hour to several days long. There might be weight, height and other restrictions for horse and mule tours, so it is important to check with tour operators about possible restrictions before booking these types of Grand Canyon tours.

Smooth-water and white-water rafting adventures are offered in Grand Canyon National Park by commercial outfitters. These trips range from several hours long to more than two weeks. Numerous outfitters take visitors on a variety of hikes, backpacking and camping trips within the park. Trips range from those appropriate for beginning hikers to those for very advanced outdoor adventurers. They range from day hikes to multi-day trips.

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