Best U.S. Travel Destination for Spring Colors: Grand Canyon, Arizona

Springtime in Arizona features brilliant blossoms that appear on the various types of cactus and other native plants. A beautiful place for many varieties of spring colors is the the state’s Grand Canyon. It’s one of the world’s most spectacular natural locations, and the change of seasons adds to its enormous appeal. If you’ve seen it in pictures or on television, it just doesn’t convey the scale and sheer natural beauty of this place; you must visit at least once in your lifetime.

We lived in Arizona for a number of years and made it a family springtime tradition to drive to the Canyon to see the spring flowers. The entrance to the National Park is 230 miles north of Phoenix, a five-hour drive, and we usually made a lunch stop in Flagstaff. From Phoenix, we took Highway I-17 north to I-40, then west to Highway 64, and on to the South Rim entrance.

Springtime at the Canyon is the best time of year, because the relatively mild winter patches of snow are gone. Day temperatures are in the 60s, while the nights are crisply cool for hiking or just staring at the Canyon’s beauty. The hardiest and most colorful of the Canyon’s many species of plants in springtime is the cactus – mostly low-growing varieties. Their large spring blossoms have yellow centers. Petals are white, red, lavender, and other brilliant colors. Many other colorful desert plants that welcome springtime in the Canyon include Indian paintbrush, evening primrose, and the one with my favorite flower name: crimson monkeyflower.

Bright Angel Lodge is a a century-old rustic hotel located at the South Rim. We stayed there on our trips, because the rates are reasonable and the setting is spectacular. The lodge offers one of the best views of the Grand Canyon, which is just steps away. In springtime, there are all varieties of wild flowers surrounding the lodge and on hiker walkways along the rim. The lodge is next to the corral, where the very popular Canyon mule rides begin each morning at Bright Angel trail. The views of spring blossoms as the mules and riders descend into the Canyon floor are spectacular. Because of their great popularity, book your stay at Bright Angel and Canyon mule ride at least six months in advance.

To eat, we like to go to another hotel on the Canyon grounds, the El Tovar Hotel Dining Room. It has an extensive menu featuring Southwestern-style dining and an outside patio Canyon overlook. The best time to view the colors is during springtime sunset. The bright colors of the wildflowers dot the Canyon rim as the enormous expanse of rock buttes and pinnacles below change colors from brilliant reds to lush scarlets to rich browns.