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Grand Canyon National Park
Submitted By Lee Spechler

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Pilot: Lee Spechler

Destination Details

  • Destination: Grand Canyon National Park
  • State/Province: Arizona
  • Website: http://www.nps.gov/grca
  • Airport ID (Check airport ID here): KGCN
  • Activities: Getting to the Grand Canyon National Park from the airport……once you are at the airport, go into the FBO or into either of the tour operator’s terminals and ask them to call a taxi for you. Just tell the taxi driver what hotel (recommend Bright Angel Lodge) you want to go to. There is also a charge to enter the Grand Canyon National Park but I don’t remember what that is ($15 I think) because I have a National Parks Pass that covers it. When you’re ready to go back to the airport, just have the hotel tours desk call for the taxi back to the airport. There are a few options for restaurants. The big decision is to either eat in town or go up into the Grand Canyon National Park. I recommend going into the Park – fantastic!! Once you are inside the Grand Canyon National Park, there are three resort/hotel areas, all fairly close to each other, up by the rim of the canyon. They each have restaurants. The place I start each time is the Bright Angel Lodge. They have a restaurant with simple, inexpensive food. The El Tovar hotel right next door has a more formal steak and seafood restaurant if you’re looking for something fancier. I’ve only eaten at the restaurant in Bright Angel but from what I've heard they are all good. From there, you can walk out the back door of the hotel and you’ll be standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There is a “rim trail” which winds for several miles in either direction East – West to walk along the rim. The views are spectacular!!! There is also a trail – the Bright Angel Trail – that leads down into the canyon, all the way to the Colorado River. That is a 7.8 mile hike that will take 1-2 days and has a 4,000+ vertical change in elevation. You'll need an entire day (minimum) to do that, so probably also an overnight or two stay.
  • About Your Plane: Piper Arrow PA28R-200
  • Flying Tips: Grand Canyon National Park (KGCN) is a relatively small airfield but well equipped. The runway is nice and long (8,999 x 150 feet), but there are trees at both ends and all around, as well as an airfield elevation of 6609 feet so you’ll want to watch the Density Altitude if you go up there in the summer heat. The airfield can be tough to see until you are close. It sits in a forested area and since it doesn’t take up much space horizontally away from the runway, it’s tough to pick out from a distance if you approach it perpendicular to the runway - RWY 03/21. The first time, approaching from the west, I was able to pick out the control tower first (at about mid-field) from 5 miles away and 2,000' AGL, and then the rest of the airfield as I got to within about 3 miles. Lots of tour operator traffic, both fixed and rotary wing – watch out for those guys. The FBO service is quick and friendly. Make sure you have one of those Grand Canyon special VFR maps. It has all the airspace restrictions and procedures on it for the Grand Canyon. Generally though, using 9.5 MSL Eastbound and 10.5 MSL Westbound will keep you out of trouble but still low enough to enjoy the view. The top of the Canyon is at 5,000-6,000 ft. You should go some time during the late Fall thru early Spring months. I was told that the Grand Canyon gets 5 million visitors each year and that most of those are over the summer. The road into the park is one lane, which can get backed up for miles during peak times. Ramp space at the airfield is limited as well. It was pretty empty when I was there in December but I would guess that it fills up pretty quick during the peak Summer tourist season. The views of the Grand Canyon on the way in are spectacular from any direction. The 18/36 runway blends in with the trees on either side when approaching from the East or West until you’re close.
  • GPS Longitude: 112
  • GPS Latitude: 35
  • Best Season: Yearround
  • What To Bring: Comfortable walking shoes

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