Millions of hikers from all around the world travel to the Grand Canyon National Park to witness the stunning beauties of the earth.
Joelle Baird from Wisconsin works as the public affairs specialist at the park and said that people are drawn to the park, as it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
“One of the surprising things is how many international visitors we get here every year,” Baird said. “It definitely is a revered place for so many people.”
Baird said they had 4.5 million visitors this last year, but they are still getting back to the normal, pre-pandemic number of visitors, which is usually around 6.5 million.
She also said a third of those were international visitors.
“Things have dropped off a little bit with COVID,” Baird said. “That is slowly on the rebound as international travel and tourism has increased across the country,” Baird said.
Charise McMullin from Arkansas said she hiked rim to rim with a group of friends, a long venture that is nearly 24 miles, according to Earth Trekkers.
“It feels good (to be here),” McMullin said. “It’s beautiful, and it makes me happy.”
McMullin said she was planning to hike the way back the next day, which toals about 48 miles of hiking.
“It brings me happiness to see the creations and beauty of this earth,” McMullin said. “It’s breathtaking.”
Baird said there are many reasons why the beauty of the Grand Canyon is so special.
“The vast landscape of the large Canyon, as well as the depths, are certainly unique,” Baird said. “There’s nothing like it in the whole world.”
She explained how there are limitless activities people can experience while visiting, including hiking, river rafting, and simply seeing the views.
“It’s an opportunity to see a new landscape and to experience something that people don’t have in their backyard,” Baird said. “It definitely is a destination type of experience.”
Jake Swanson from Houston, Texas said his experience hiking the Grand Canyon was challenging, but worth it to enjoy the views.
“It’s beautiful and peaceful,” Swanson said. “It helped me to center myself and feel better.”
Swanson said he likes not having to deal with all the business and stress of his life while he is in nature.
“God’s creations help me disconnect,” Swanson said. “I can get away from the pressures of normal life.”
Donn Miller from Colorado, who enjoyed the hike alongside McMullin, said she enjoyed the challenge because of the scenery as well.
“It was long,” Miller said. “But, it was indescribable with so many beautiful things.”
Miller said she also likes it because she can take a moment to pause and reflect.
“I enjoy appreciating the beauty more and connecting with it,” Miller said. “It helps me slow down and think.”
Baird agreed that it is a great place for people to get away from everything.
“It’s definitely a peaceful, enriching experience, especially if people don’t have those types of outlets in their daily life,” Baird said.
Annie Green from Mesa, Arizona said she doesn’t visit very many national parks, but the Grand Canyon is one of those few because she enjoys the sights.
“There’s so much beauty in the world,” Green said. “It’s easier to be outside here than if I’m just going to the park because you see all the beauty of God’s creations,” Green said.
Baird said another unique feature of the Grand Canyon is how accessible and well-maintained it is.
“This is a park that’s accessible and open to anyone who wants to come,” Baird said. “Folks who are in wheelchairs that might not have the best mobility can still experience it,” Baird said.
McMullin and Miller both said they were surprised at how clean the trails were.
“The trails are beautiful,” McMullin said. “We were so impressed with how well maintained it was,” McMullin said.
Baird said they are able to keep it nice thanks to all the hard workers.
“That’s one of the things that we pride ourselves in here at Grand Canyon,” Baird said. “[National Parks] belong to everyone, and anyone can visit and experience how they see fit.”
Green said the reason she comes to the Grand Canyon is to relax, see the views, and support her husband and her Latter-Day Saint church group.
“There’s a group of people from church that do it the same day every year,” Green said. “So, I just love to come up and support them.”
Although Green doesn’t do the hike herself, she said she comes to be in nature and and loves to cheer on the other people.
“I love spending time together,” Green said. “There’s something to be said about fresh air, but it’s mostly the time together that matters.”
Swanson, who has been to several national parks around the United States including Big Bend National Park in Texas and Zion National Park in Utah, said to those wanting to get more into hiking that it’s best to start being active by finding something you enjoy doing.
“Start small with what you like to do,” Swanson said. “Whether it’s biking or throwing the football, just start small.”
Mcmullin said she enjoys exercising with other people, just like she did for her Grand Canyon hike.
“My advice is to do it with a friend,” McMullin said. “That’s what I do.”
Miller also said that National Parks are a great way to spend time outdoors.
“Just start small and get outside a little bit at a time,” Miller said. “Most likely, you’ll love it.”
Baird said her advice to visitors is to plan ahead so that you can have an enjoyable, less stressful experience.
“It’s very hard to just show up here on the same day and be spontaneous,” Baird said. “Really plan ahead of time.”
Baird said her tips are to get reservations in advance and get permits early if visitors want to explore the backcountry.
“We have a lot of great resources on our park website that can help with trip planning,” Baird said. “The sooner you’re able to do that, the better you will be, and it will ultimately lead to a more enjoyable visit when you get here.”