Grand Canyon South Rim Top Sites & Itineraries

Maximize Your Visit: Grand Canyon Itinerary and Imagery

by and - last updated on 6/12/2024

Take a look at our Visit the Grand Canyon page for information about where to stay, where to eat, parking and other logistics associated with your visit.

On this page dive into the major things to see and do while visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and then provide detailed itineraries for you depending on where you will stay (inside or outside of the park) and where you are coming from (south entrance or east entrance).

Grand Canyon Visitors Center 

The visitor center is packed with informative exhibits that delve deep into the canyon's geological history, flora and fauna, and cultural significance. Interactive displays and informative films bring the canyon's story to life. Learn about the powerful forces that shaped the canyon over millions of years and the diverse ecosystem that thrives within it.

The visitor center houses a well-stocked bookstore and gift shop where you can find souvenirs, maps, and educational materials to remember your visit. There is a grab and go cafe serving mostly sandwiches, snacks and drinks including coffee and also a bike rental location.

Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Bus System Station
Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Shops/Restrooms/Snack Bar
Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Snack Bar Fare
Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Coffee Bar Area

South Rim Trail of Time 

The Trail of Time is an educational and interpretive walking path that is 2.83 miles long located along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the geologic history of the Grand Canyon in an engaging and accessible way.

It stretches between Yavapai Geology Museum and Grand Canyon Village. It is designed to provide visitors with a sense of the vast geological timescales represented by the rock formations visible in the canyon. Along the trail, markers are placed at intervals to represent significant points in geologic time. Each meter of the trail corresponds to one million years of the Earth's history. There are numerous interpretive exhibits and displays along the trail. These include rock samples, explanatory plaques, and interactive features that help visitors understand the formation and evolution of the Grand Canyon. In addition to all of that you will see stunning views of the Canyon.

The entire trail is paved and accessible to everyone including wheelchairs and strollers. It’s a great way for you and family to learn about the Grand Canyon on your walk. Kids will love making it to the next exhibit.

Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Rim Trail Map
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Trail is Spacious
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Frequent Information Signs
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Trail of Time End-Point

Yavapai Geology Museum 

The Yavapai Geology Museum offers visitors a captivating journey through the canyon's ancient past. It has panoramic windows overlooking the canyon's breathtaking vistas, tells the story of millions of years of Earth's history. Inside, immersive exhibits and interactive displays delve into the geology of the Grand Canyon, unraveling the mysteries of its formation through engaging visuals and informative narratives. Of course, there is a gift shop in there too.

Hermits Rest Route and viewpoints on the way 

The Hermits Rest Route (also known as the Bus Red Route) is one of the shuttle bus routes at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This route provides access to several scenic viewpoints and trailheads along the west end of the South Rim.

The Hermits Rest Bus Route typically operates from March through November. During this timeframe, cars are not allowed along the route. It is only accessible by bus, bike, or on foot. During the winter months, however, the road is open to private vehicles.

Key Stops and Viewpoints

  1. Hermits Rest Transfer Station: The starting point for the shuttle route, located near the Village area.
  2. Trailview Overlook: Offers panoramic views of the Bright Angel Trail switchbacks and the Grand Canyon Village.
  3. Maricopa Point: A great spot for views of the canyon and the Colorado River.
  4. Powell Point: Features a memorial to John Wesley Powell and offers stunning sunset views.
  5. Hopi Point: Known for its expansive views and is one of the best spots to watch the sunrise or sunset.
  6. Mohave Point: Provides views of the river, the Abyss, and extensive canyon vistas.
  7. The Abyss: Known for its sheer drop of over 3,000 feet to the canyon floor.
  8. Monument Creek Vista: Offers views of Monument Creek and the Colorado River.
  9. Pima Point: Provides sweeping views and often allows you to hear the roar of the Colorado River rapids below.
  10. Hermits Rest: The final stop, featuring a historic structure designed by Mary Colter, a gift shop, and a snack bar. It's a great place to relax (it has shade, places to sit, etc) and take in the scenery before heading back.
Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Powell Point Monument
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Good Seat to View the Canyon Below
Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Powell Monument Path
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Hopi Point Canyon View East
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Hopi Point
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Colorado River below Hopi Point
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West at Hopi Point
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West Hopi Point view of Canyon
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Hopi Point looking East
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Colorado River / Salt Creek Rapids
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Looking West at Hopi Point
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Looking further West from Hopi Point

Grand Canyon Hermit's Rest Area 

Unlike the bustling Mather Point, Hermit's Rest sits at the western end of Hermit Road, offering a quieter and less crowded atmosphere. It's the perfect spot to escape the crowds and truly appreciate the canyon's serenity.

Built in 1914, the historic building at Hermit's Rest resembles a rustic miner's cabin. Stepping inside, you'll be transported back in time with its massive stone fireplace and lodge-like ambiance. It's a designated National Historic Landmark, adding a layer of cultural interest to your visit.

Hermit's Rest serves as the starting point for the challenging Hermit Trail, which winds down into the canyon. Even if you don't plan on a strenuous hike, you can take a short walk along the trail for a different perspective and a glimpse of the Colorado River far below.

Looking for the best way to explore the Grand Canyon? Our itineraries for the south rim cover must-see sights, activities, and tips for an amazing adventure
Entrance from Bus Stop
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Shop/Restrooms/Snack Bar
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Shop Entrance
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Canyon View from Shop
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Store Fireplace
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Looking West from Shop

Desert View Drive 

Desert View Drive is a 23-mile (37 km) scenic route along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, stretching from Grand Canyon Village to the Desert View Watchtower to the east. This drive offers some of the most breathtaking views and unique experiences within the Grand Canyon National Park.

 Drive Key Highlights and Stops

  1. Pipe Creek Vista: This viewpoint offers wide-angle views of the canyon and is a great spot for photography.
  2. Duck on a Rock: Named for a rock formation that resembles a duck, this overlook offers unique and interesting views of the canyon. It's a fun stop for families and photography enthusiasts.
  3. Grandview Point: One of the highest points on the South Rim, Grandview Point offers sweeping vistas of the canyon and the Colorado River. It's a popular stop for its panoramic views and the trailhead for the Grandview Trail.
  4. Moran Point: Named after the famous painter Thomas Moran, this viewpoint offers expansive views of the canyon, highlighting the stunning colors and formations that inspired many of his works.
  5. Lipan Point: Known for its exceptional views of the canyon's rock formations and the Colorado River. It is also a great spot for sunrise and sunset photography, offering unobstructed views in multiple directions.
  6. Navajo Point: This is the highest point on Desert View Drive, providing some of the most expansive views of the Grand Canyon. From here, you can see the Desert View Watchtower and the Painted Desert in the distance.
  7. Desert View Watchtower: The endpoint of Desert View Drive, the Desert View Watchtower is a 70-foot stone structure designed by Mary Colter. The tower offers panoramic views of the canyon and the Painted Desert. Inside, visitors can explore the tower's interior, which features murals and artwork inspired by Native American designs.

Descending into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim 

Hiking into the Grand Canyon offers a unique and immersive experience, showcasing the canyon's breathtaking beauty and geological wonders. However, it is essential to recognize that these trails demand physical fitness, proper preparation, and respect for the challenging conditions. Hiking into the canyon is not suitable for everyone, especially those without prior hiking experience. The trails are steep, the temperatures can be extreme, and the journey back up can be significantly more strenuous than the descent. It is crucial to plan carefully, carry adequate supplies, and understand your limits to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure.

 Hiking Trail Options

  1. Bright Angel Trail: 9.5 miles one way to the Colorado River. It is the most popular hike with an elevation change of 4380 feet.. The entire trail can not be done in a single day and many people stop and turn around at various points. One of the popular turn around spots is at Indian Garden which is 4.9 miles from the trail head.
  2. South Kaibab Trail: 7 miles one way to the Colorado River, elevation change of 4780 feet. It is steeper than Bright Angel Trail.
  3. Hermit Trail: 8.9 miles one way to Hermit Creek, elevation change of 4240 feet. This trail is less crowded but more rugged and less maintained than Bright Angel Trail.
  4. Grandview Trail: 6 miles one way to Horseshoe Mesa, elevation change of 2600 ft but is known for its steepness and rough terrain.

While hiking into the Grand Canyon can be a rewarding experience, it is important to approach it with caution and respect for the environment and your own physical limits. Thorough preparation, understanding the challenges, and choosing the right trail for your experience level are essential to ensure a safe and memorable journey.

 
Wikipedia Logo
 Click here if you are interested in hiking into the canyon then you need to read this information in detail National Park Service Website Page.
 

Descending into the Grand Canyon by Mule 

While the idea of embarking on a "Grand Canyon Donkey trip" might conjure up amusing images of being led by a team of determined donkeys, the truth is a tad different – and perhaps a bit more refined. Grand Canyon mule trips, often mistakenly referred to as donkey trips, offer visitors a one-of-a-kind journey into the heart of the canyon.

First things first: let’s clear up the confusion. While donkeys and mules share some similarities, the four-legged companions leading the way on these trips are, in fact, mules – a hybrid of a male donkey and a female horse. Known for their surefootedness and resilience, these remarkable animals have been transporting visitors into the canyon for decades.

Now, you might be wondering, "Are mule trips safe?" Absolutely! Grand Canyon National Park takes the safety of its visitors seriously, and mule trips are no exception. The animals are well-trained and accustomed to navigating the rugged terrain, ensuring a smooth and secure journey for riders. Additionally, experienced wranglers accompany each trip, providing guidance and ensuring the well-being of both riders and mules.

The duration of the trip varies depending on the route chosen. For instance, a one-day trip to the canyon's floor and back may take approximately 5-7 hours, while overnight adventures can extend to multiple days.

The rides are not cheap and must be reserved well in advance. Explore the National Park Service site for more information.

 
Wikipedia Logo
 Click here to read more information about the mule trains on this National Park Service Website Page.
 

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours 

We took a Grand Canyon Helicopter tour of the North Rim some years ago from Las Vegas. It’s a quick way to see a lot of the Grand Canyon and an interesting experience. I always get a little queasy in Helicopters but they are definitely a unique and fun thing to do, especially if you are short on time. See the links to tour operators in our "more information section" below.

 
Wikipedia Logo
 There are a number of Helicopter Tour Operators based in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Flagstaff as well as at the Grand Canyon. Click here to view a Google Search Results List for Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Operators.

Suggested Grand Canyon South Rim Itineraries 

Now that you've grasped an understanding of the Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim area, we're excited to offer four distinct itineraries tailored to your arrival point and lodging preferences, whether you're coming from the east or south and opting to stay within the park or outside of it. Dive deeper into your Grand Canyon adventure on our Visit the Grand Canyon page [hyperlink to your primary page], where you'll discover comprehensive insights into the canyon's marvels, along with detailed guidance on accommodations, parking, dining, and more.

Look for the itinerary based on where you are staying and which direction you are coming from. Also keep in mind that these are just suggestions and there numerous ways to plan your visit. We hope that these itineraries give you some ideas on how to approach your own visit and save you a bit of time in your planning.

 Arriving from the East (Page or Monument Valley area) and Staying in the Park

Day 1 at the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim
  1. Enter at the east entrance and drive along the desert view drive. Stop at scenic viewpoints along the way and don’t miss the Desert View Watchtower and Grand View Point.
  2. Park in the village lots C or D.
  3. Walk the Trail of Time towards the visitor center.
  4. Walk to and visit the Yavapai Geology Museum.
  5. Eat lunch at the visitor Center or take the bus to the market place or village and eat - see our section on eating options.
  6. After lunch, check into your hotel and take a break or do some tourist shopping at the various village shops.
  7. Eat Dinner in the village.
  8. Watch the sunset from the rim. If you have time to kill opt for a drink at the beer garden next to the El Tovar Hotel.

 Arriving from the East (Page or Monument Valley area) and Staying in Tusayan

Day 1 at the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim
  1. Enter at the east entrance and drive along the desert view drive. Stop at scenic viewpoints along the way and don’t miss the Desert View Watchtower and Grand View Point.
  2. Park at any of the visitor center lots.
  3. Walk to and visit the Yavapai Geology Museum.
  4. Walk the Trail of Time from the visitor center area to the village.
  5. Eat lunch at the village or take a bus to the marketplace - See our section on eating options.
  6. Explore the village area. There are numerous shops and the trailhead to Bright Angel Trail.
  7. Either plan to eat dinner in the village and watch the sunset or get your car and check into your hotel in Tusayan and eat at one of the restaurants nearby.
  8. Head back to the park for sunset views by the visitor center if you have the energy.

 Half Day - Day 2 for everyone who arrived from the South Entrance

  1. Get up early for sunrise - watch the sunrise from the rim near your hotel or head to the visitor center, if staying in Tusayan, and plan to watch the sunrise at either Mather Point or Yavapai Point or take the orange bus line to Yaki point. The orange bus starts before sunrise as it takes hikers to the Kaibab trail.
  2. Eat Breakfast at the location of your choice (visitor center, marketplace or village).
  3. Drive the 25 miles to the Desert View Drive to the Watchtower to see the Desert View Point. Stop at viewpoints along the way. You could plan to see the sunrise at Desert view point instead of stopping at the visitor center area.

 Full Day - Day 2: If you have a full day consider these options

  1. Alternative 1: Hike or take a mule trip into the canyon on Angels trail or one of the other trail options. This requires a full day if you plan to go to the bottom. Only the very fit and experienced hikers should try this. Of course, you could just hike part of the way if you are tight on time. Don’t underestimate the difficulty in hiking into the canyon. Many people train for this. tips: do your research, bring water, snacks, be aware of mule train rules and passing rules. Don’t let your hiking partners out of your site.
  2. Alternative 2: Take a helicopter tour of the canyon.
  3. Alternative 3: View the Grand Canyon IMAX movie in Tusayan. It is informative and worth checking out during your visit.

More Just Traveling Thru Resources  

  • Our Grand Canyon Image Gallery
  • Our Grand Canyon Video
  • Our Grand Canyon El Tovar Hotel Page
  • Top Sites in the Grand Canyon and Grand Canyon South Rim Itineraries
  • Fly Drive Road Trip Tips
  • Our Youtube Channel

More Info for the Grand Canyon, AZ 

  • Grand Canyon Wikipedia Article
  • Grand Canyon National Park Service Page
  • Grand Canyon Google Images Set:
  • Get Your Guide Grand Canyon Tour from South Rim:
  • Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
  • Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
 
 

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