TRAVEL CONCIERGE: You don't want your deep-breath-all-Zen Grand Canyon moment to be preceded by fisticuffs over a parking spot. This marvel of nature can get crowded with four-million-plus visitors flocking there every year. But there are ways to escape the masses.
You can go off-season, when the canyon may be dusted in soft light and snow. You can drive the extra hours to the less-visited North Rim. Or, if you are in the South Rim in the busy summer, ditch the stress (and the car) and jump on one of the free shuttle buses, which frequent the popular lookouts.
You can find views with elbow room, such as at Trailview Overlook, an excellent spot to watch the sun rise, says James Schenck, a park ranger at Grand Canyon National Park.
Then, to really lose the crowd, stretch your legs along the Rim Trail, a paved path along the canyon edge. "Every step of the way you're going to be able to see a great view."
And while you can buckle into a helicopter or shoulder a pack, Schenck recommends an old-fashioned mule ride as a unique experience. (Just remember to book ahead; reservations are taken 13 months in advance.)
And, finally, if you can't beat 'em, it may not be so bad joining them. Just walk beyond the main viewpoint and claim a rock, Schenck says. "Challenge yourself. Go sit on a rock on the rim for 30 minutes. Do not move. Do not talk to anyone and soak in the view. And it will change your life."
Send your travel questions to The Concierge.
Karan Smith is a former Globe Travel editor. Special to The Globe and Mail