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UPDATED OCT. 3, 2013: Many updates are available in the comments as well as in the post, as marked below.

We published this story on our website theCanyon.com today.

Grand Canyon National Park is closed during the Federal Government shutdown as of today, October 1, 2013. Here are the facts and some alternative travel plans if you need to make last-minute changes to your Arizona vacation.

During the shutdown:

  • Arizona’s 22 national parks and federal monuments, historical sites and recreation areas are affected by shutdown-caused closures.
  • People will be turned away at the gates to Grand Canyon National Park at the South and North Rims.
  • The daily run of the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the South Rim is suspended. See http://www.xanterra.com/news/potential-government-shutdown for more details.
  • If you have questions about an existing reservation in one of the Grand Canyon Lodges on the South Rim, contact Xanterra Resorts at http://www.xanterra.com.
  • If you have questions about an existing reservation at the Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim, contact Forever Resorts at http://www.grandcanyonlodgenorth.com.
  • Visitors already inside the Park have 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave.
  • Backcountry campers, hikers and river rafters may leave the park at their own pace.

If you need to make alternative travel arrangements, or you’re wondering what else to do instead of visiting the Grand Canyon during the shutdown, here is a list of 21 other beautiful, historic and culturally-rich places to check out as well as places to find nearby lodging. Think Arizona State Parks, native American tribal sites, commercial tours and hiking/mountain biking trails.

  1. Grand Canyon West (Peach Springs)
  2. Havasupai (Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls) (Havasupai Hilltop)
  3. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (Four Corners Area)
  4. Palatki/Honanki Heritage Sites (Sedona)
  5. Verde Canyon Railroad (Clarkdale)
  6. Bearizona (Williams)
  7. East Clear Creek
  8. Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff)
  9. The Arboretum (Flagstaff)
  10. Painted Desert (Flagstaff)
  11. Meteor Crater (Flagstaff)
  12. Horseshoe Bend (Page)
  13. Homolovi State Park (Winslow)
  14. Hiking and Mountain Biking on the White Mountains Trail System (White Mountains)
  15. Arizona Wine Country (Page Springs/Cornville)
  16. Red Rock State Park (Sedona)
  17. Slide Rock State Park (Sedona)
  18. Grasshopper Point (Sedona)
  19. Dead Horse Ranch State Park (Cottonwood)
  20. Jerome State Historic Park (Jerome)
  21. Oatman-Gold Road (Oatman)
  22. Edited to add: Out of Africa Wildlife Park (Camp Verde)
  23. Edited to add: Highlands Center (Prescott)

      • Sites operated by Recreation Resource Management
          • Ashurst Lake
          • Bonito
          • Canyon Vista
          • Dairy Springs
          • Lake Mary Day Use Area
          • Lakeview
          • Lockett Meadow
          • O’Leary Group
          • Pinegrove
          • Crescent Moon/Red Rock Crossing
          • Grasshopper Point
          • West Fork/Call of the Canyon
          • Manzanita
          • Cave Springs
          • Chavez Crossing
          • Pine Flats, east and west
          • Oak Creek Visitor Center
          • Clear Creek
          • Beaver Creek

If you already have lodging reservations secured outside of the National Park, we urge you to keep them. Cancelled reservations not only may be hard to rebook elsewhere as visitors scramble to rearrange their plans, but they also deeply hurt the tourism-driven economy in northern Arizona. From Kingman to Sedona, Tusayan to Williams, Flagstaff to Page, these central and northern Arizona cities are all smart locations from which to launch the above suggested day trips, and you won’t have to hassle with rebooking a portion of your vacation plans.

If you’ve booked an impending reservation on one of the commercial tours in the park, such as the Grand Canyon Railway or south rim bus tours, please try to reschedule it versus canceling, or look for another commercial tour. For example, Grand Canyon Railway ticket holders may want to check out the Pumpkin Patch tour or Polar Express — two GCR specialty tours that are still up and running despite the park closure — or perhaps opt for the Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale. Those taking a van tour to the South Rim may want to call their tour provider to see if a similar tour is available to Grand Canyon West (home of the Skywalk) or to the Indian Country sites, where you can enjoy Navajo and Hopi history.

Got questions about the government shutdown, or want to know where else you can visit? Leave your questions in the comments!

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12 Responses to “21 Things to Do Instead of Visiting Grand Canyon National Park”

  1. John King says:

    So my friends and I have had a camping trip planned to go up to the Mogollon rim, will we be turned away at this point?? The trip is planned for the 4th 5th and 6th of oct. Please Advise

  2. John King says:

    i see that it says in the “other things to do” section however i just want it clear for myself that mogollon rim is not at all effected by this.

  3. Hi, John. Dispersed camping is still allowed in the Coconino National Forest. Follow their guidelines, posted here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/recreation/camping-cabins/?cid=stelprdb5313448. However, the National Forest Service’s offices are closed due to the shutdown, so it’s likely you’ll find closed gates at the Coconino NF developed campgrounds.

  4. I edited our post. We mistakenly included Clear Creek and Grasshopper Point in the “Open” items. However, these sites are both in the Coconino National Forest and are unfortunately closed due to the lapse in government funding. In their place, I added Out of Africa Wildlife Park – they have a new white rhino at the park that you absolutely MUST see – and the Highlands Center in Prescott. Highlands Center is a wonderful place to birdwatch or enjoy a nature walk among the tall pines near Lynx Lake between Prescott Valley and Prescott.

  5. Cheri Williams says:

    I was wondering if the Lawrence Crossing area near Beaver Creek campground is open for camping?

  6. Joseph says:

    Hello i have a trip pland at knoll lake on the 10 th 11th 12 th of oct will it be open for fishing

  7. According to the Az Daily Sun, the Knoll Lake Campground is closed. The roads and access are unrestricted, but the permit offices and such services are closed. I hope that’s helpful! Here is the link to the source:

  8. Melissa says:

    Do you know if the campgrounds along Rose Creek and Workman Falls will be open? We wanted to go camping.

  9. Rose Creek appears to be closed: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/null/recarea/?recid=35643&actid=29
    Workman Creek appears to be a no fee area anyway, so I am guessing it is open, but I really don’t know. I tried calling the Tonto National Forest office, but of course it’s closed due to the lack of federal funding. I’m sorry; wish I could be of more help.

  10. Anna says:

    I am staying in Scottsdale week of Oct 13-18 and was planning on driving up to see the Grand Canyon. I don’t want a tour I just want a good view point to say I saw it. Any recommedations on where would be closest and best place if any to still do that?

  11. Hi, Anna. Let’s cross our fingers that the government shutdown will be over and you can visit the South Rim and see it on your own. If not, you can still get a pretty spectacular view of the Grand Canyon by visiting Grand Canyon West. It’s a bit longer drive, but because Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai Tribe, it is still open for business. Once you park and pay for an entrance package (more on this in a sec) you can take a self-guided tour of the area, using the hop-on-hop-off shuttle to visit Eagle Point and Guano Point and of course, the Grand Canyon Skywalk. However, the drive is longer than the one to the South Rim – it’s about 5 hours (284 miles) from Scottsdale via US-93. You will be require to pay for an entrance package that starts around $88 per person to include the Skywalk. Make plans to stay overnight at a hotel in Kingman that night; 10 hours of driving and 3 – 4 hours of touring the West Rim could prove to be a long, tiring day.