Whether the highlight of your visit is a spectacular sunrise, a staged train "holdup," or a glimpse of the endangered California Condor, your trip to the Grand Canyon will be one your family talks about for years to come. There's a reason why nearly five million people from all over the world visit this natural wonder each year -- few other views are so utterly spectacular.
The crowds that the summer season draws can seem as large as the park itself, so if you come this time of year, bring an extra dose of patience. You'll find fewer tourists in early spring or late fall, but those months can be unpredictable weather-wise. Snow is not uncommon in May.
Summer's day temperatures are a mild and pleasant 50 to 81 degrees, making it a great time to visit the park, despite it being high tourist season. Keep in mind that the temperature dips considerably at night. Winter is decidedly not a good time for your trip, as conditions can become extreme. (Think snow, ice, and impassable roads to the park.) Get more weather info.
The closest major airport to the Grand Canyon's popular South Rim is Sky Harbor (PHX) in Phoenix, 220 miles away. You'll need to rent a car for the rest of your journey to the Canyon. If you plan to make the five-hour drive to the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, take this into account when choosing your rental car as this is canyon country.
To avoid traffic, get an early start and purchase a prepaid park entry ticket at your hotel or the vending machine near the Pizza Hut in the IMAX theater in Tusayan (follow signs off Route 64). This allows you to zip through the prepaid ticket line at the gate. You can park at the South Rim Visitor Center or the Maswik Transportation Center lot, where you can catch the park's shuttle bus.
You can explore all of the South Rim -- historic Grand Canyon Village and the eight-mile West Rim Drive -- by way of the park's free shuttle buses.