Julie United States 16 Comments

Epic, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping…these are all words that describe the Grand Canyon. But in all honesty, words, and even photos, cannot quite capture what it is like to stand on the rim and gaze out across the canyon.

There are dozens of viewpoints along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Each one of these viewpoints offers a spectacular view, but some viewpoints are just better than others. Some offer panoramic vistas, some are less crowded, and some make fantastic sunrise and sunset destinations.

Here are 16 of the best South Rim viewpoints. It sounds like a lot, but this is narrowed down from our original list. At the end of this article, we will give you our top 10 spots with tips to help you plan your time.

In this post, you’ll notice that we are wearing Santa Hats. We visited the Grand Canyon over the Christmas holiday season and we spent Christmas morning exploring many of the South Rim Viewpoints.

South Rim Viewpoints

The South Rim viewpoints are quite spread out. The drive from Hermit’s Rest to Desert View is 32 miles long and takes about an hour (without stopping for photos).

I grouped these viewpoints into three sections: viewpoints located near the Grand Canyon Village, viewpoints along Hermit Road, and the viewpoints along Desert View Road.

At the end of this article, you can see all of the viewpoints on a map.

Grand Canyon Village Viewpoints

These viewpoints are all located near the Grand Canyon Village. To get between viewpoints, you can either use the Grand Canyon shuttle (the Kaibab Rim Route, orange line) or hike the Rim Trail.

During the off-season, it is possible to drive between some of these viewpoints. On Christmas morning, we did not have any problems with parking. However, Yaki Point is only accessible by shuttle or by the Rim Trail. During peak season, it can be very difficult to find parking so the shuttle or walking is your best bet.

Mather Point

This is the most popular viewpoint on the South Rim. Located just a short walk from the Visitor Center, everyone comes here for a view of the Grand Canyon. Expect big crowds and decent views of the canyon.

Out of every South Rim viewpoint on this list, this was our least favorite. I almost didn’t include it on this list, but it is so popular that it would be crazy not to mention it.

Mather Point South Rim viewpoints

Mather Point Grand Canyon

Yavapai Point

For panoramic views with slightly fewer crowds than Mather Point, put Yavapai Point on your list.

Yavapai Point South Rim viewpoints

Yavapai Point Grand Canyon

Yaki Point

It is well worth your time to take the shuttle to this viewpoint. From here, you can look down at the South Kaibab Trail, as it weaves its way to the Colorado River. You also have fantastic views looking east.

Yaki South Rim viewpoints

Best South Rim Viewpoints

Ooh Aah Point

Isn’t this the best name for a viewpoint? 🙂

This viewpoint is located on the South Kaibab Trail. Getting here isn’t easy but it’s worth it, especially if you want to go hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Ooh Aah Point

Hike Grand Canyon

To get here, you will need to take the Grand Canyon shuttle (orange line, Kaibab Rim Route) to the South Kaibab trailhead. Then it is a 1 mile hike downhill to the viewpoint. This viewpoint puts you under the rim so you get a slightly different perspective of the Grand Canyon than from nearby Yaki Point. Just be aware that it will be a strenuous, 1 mile uphill hike to get back to the shuttle stop.

How Much Time Do You Need?

If you choose to hike to Ooh Aah Point, it can take about 2 hours, including the time for the shuttle.

Allow up to four hours if you want to visit all four viewpoints that we list (including Ooh Aah Point). It’s possible to do this a lot faster if you get lucky with the shuttle schedule and don’t tend to linger long at the viewpoints.

Looking for a great hike in the Grand Canyon? Learn how to hike the South Kaibab Trail to the Bright Angel Trail, an awesome adventure that takes you from the South Rim to the Colorado River and back up to the South Rim. It is usually done as a two day backpacking trip, but if you are fit and fast you can do it all in one day. Read about it here:

Hiking the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails in One Day

Hermit Road Viewpoints

Hermit Road is 7 miles long. It starts near the Grand Canyon Village and ends at Hermit’s Rest. From March 1 to November 30, you can take the Grand Canyon Shuttle (Hermits Rest Route, red line) to get to all of these viewpoints. From December 1 to February 28, you will need to drive or walk to get between the viewpoints.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: There is very limited parking at all of these viewpoints. While the shuttle is in service, this is the best way to get around.

Powell Viewpoint

We loved this viewpoint. In fact, we liked it so much that we visited it twice.

Best View Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Christmas South Rim viewpoints

From the shuttle stop, it’s a short, flat walk past the Masonic Grand Canyon Degree Memorial to the main viewpoint. Enjoy the sweeping views and if you want, you can walk down to a slightly lower viewpoint for a different perspective (and cool photos).

Hopi Viewpoint

This is a very popular viewpoint at sunrise and sunset. It is just a short distance from Powell viewpoint so the views do not change too much.

Hopi Point Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoints

Hopi Point

Grand Canyon Christmas Morning South Rim viewpoints

Mohave Viewpoint

This is another good one! The views from here are breathtaking. There are several different photo spots that offer slightly different views.

Mohave Viewpoint

Mohave Point

Mohave Point Grand Canyon

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

The Abyss

From Powell, Hopi, and Mohave, you view the Grand Canyon from the point of a peninsula. The Abyss is different. From here, you are farther away from the Colorado River, so you get a different perspective of the Grand Canyon.

The Abyss Grand Canyon

Pima Point

Pima Point is another great location for panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. Once again, you are standing out on the edge of peninsula so you get sweeping views of the canyon.

Pima Point

Hermit’s Rest

Located at the end of Hermit Road, this is the final viewpoint in this section. The views here are not as good as the other viewpoints since trees block some of the view. However, there is a great little gift shop and café that’s worth a visit.

Hermits Rest South Rim viewpoints

How Much Time Do You Need?

We visited all of the viewpoints along Hermit Road and did a little shopping at Hermit’s Rest. This took us two hours and we visited more viewpoints than we list in this article. We did drive from point to point. Using the shuttle bus might take longer, since you will most likely spend some time waiting for the bus.

Best National Parks USA

Desert View Road Viewpoints

To get to these viewpoints you will need a car. The Grand Canyon Shuttle does not travel to these viewpoints. From the Grand Canyon Village to the Desert View Point, it is a 25 mile (41 km) drive and takes about an hour. This road can be slick and icy during the winter months.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you plan to visit eastern Arizona (Page or Monument Valley), consider visiting these viewpoints as you drive out of (or into) the park.

Shoshone Point

This is another view that requires a little bit of hiking. But with that, you will leave the crowds behind for views like this.

Shoshone Point

Shoshone View

To get here, drive down Desert View Road 1.3 miles past the turn off for Yaki Point. Park in the small gravel and dirt parking lot. Take the easy to follow trail through the woods until you get to the viewpoint. It is 2 miles round trip to Shoshone Point from the parking lot.

Grandview Point

The name says it all. From the main viewpoint, you can walk down to several other unique photo spots.

Grandview Point

When we did this drive, this was one of the most crowded viewpoints on Desert View Road. It was also very foggy. At first, we had zero visibility at Moran and Lipan Points, but it cleared up later in the morning.

Travel Photography Gear Guide

Moran Point

At this viewpoint, enjoy more sweeping views. Explore the outcroppings for your favorite photo spot.

Moran Point

Moran Point Grand Canyon

Lipan Point

The canyon looks wider and more open here. The view is very similar to the view you get at Navajo Point and Desert View Point.

Lipan Point

Navajo Point

This is worth the stop if you want to see the Desert View watchtower from a distance. Otherwise, you can skip this viewpoint. The view is not much different than Lipan Point and Desert View.

Navajo Point South Rim viewpoints

Desert View Point

This is the final South Rim viewpoint. This is also a very popular viewpoint to visit. The parking lot is enormous and there are restrooms, a restaurant, and a gift shop here. Walk towards the watchtower to get to the viewpoint.

You can climb 85 steps to the top of the watchtower for 360° views. Check the official Grand Canyon website for updated hours.

Desert View Watchtower South Rim viewpoints

Desert View

How Much Time Do You Need?

Shoshone Point will take the most time. At two miles round trip, this takes about an hour (maybe a little less depending on how fast you walk).

It takes 35 minutes to drive one way on Desert View Road. You need about 10 minutes at Grandview, Lipan, Moran, and Navajo Point, if you decide to visit all of them.

It’s easy to spend 30 minutes or longer at Desert View since there is more to do here.

The entire round trip excursion along Desert View Road will take between 4 to 5 hours if you plan to do everything. Of course, skipping a viewpoint or two, or only traveling one way, will save some time.

See Them All on a Map

I recommend saving your favorite viewpoints on Google Maps before your trip to the Grand Canyon. Cache the map on your phone before you leave your hotel. We were able to get a decent cellular signal near the Grand Canyon Village but it fades out once you move farther away from the Visitor Center.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Our Recommendations

We listed 16 viewpoints. That’s a lot to get to. And even though views of the Grand Canyon are amazing, it does get to be repetitive.

To help you narrow down the list, here are our 10 favorite viewpoints.

Our Top 10 South Rim Viewpoints

Along Hermit Road:If you want to narrow down the list on Hermit Road, our favorites are Powell, Mohave, and Pima Point and Hermit’s Rest is worth the visit, especially if you need a snack or want to shop for souvenirs.

Near the Grand Canyon Village:  We really liked Yavapai and Yaki Point. If you want to hike down below the rim, hiking out to Ooh Aah Point is awesome.

Along Desert View Road:  Shoshone Point is a great spot to leave the crowds behind. We also liked Moran Point and Desert View Point.

Tips to Have the Best Experience

Don’t try to visit all of these viewpoints in one day. They will all blend together. If you can, visit them over two to three days if you have the time.

Consider hiking the rim trail between some of these viewpoints. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some of the best views right from the trail. Most of the trail is paved and flat, so it is easy to walk. Learn more about the rim trail here.

The viewpoints are the least crowded early in the morning around sunrise. By mid-morning, crowds steadily build and peak midday. Several popular viewpoints, such as Mather, Hopi, and Yavapai, can also get crowded at sunset. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider starting your day at sunrise.

Use the free shuttle service to get from point to point. Learn more here.

About Our Visit

All of these photos were taken in the morning from December 24 to December 26, 2018.

Over these three days, our weather varied quite a bit. On December 24, high temperatures reached the mid-50’s and we had sunny skies. It was cloudy and cooler on Christmas day. On the 26th, we awoke to foggy skies and freezing temperatures. Desert View Road was covered in a thin layer of ice and we had to wait for the fog to lift in order to get these photos. It was wild. In just a matter of minutes, once the fog decided to lift, it went from zero visibility to crystal clear skies.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at The Grand Hotel in Tusayan. It is the highest rated hotel in the area. The hotel looks impressive from the outside and the lobby is very nice but the rooms are nothing special. On Booking.com it is listed as a 5-star hotel but it looks and feels a lot more like a 3 to 4 star hotel. However, the rooms are clean and quiet and fit our needs. The WiFi was a bit slow but that is the norm from what we read for any hotel in the area.

From Tusayan, it is a 15 minute drive to get to the Grand Canyon Village. There are several restaurants in town. Our favorite spots were Plaza Bonita, the Coronado Room, and Starbucks.

Which one(s) of these South Rim viewpoints do you want to visit? Do you have a favorite view from the South Rim that we missed? Comment below and share your experience.

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Comments 16

  1. Avatar for Tracie Clay
    Tracie Clay

    We will be in the Grand Canyon in two days. Does it make any sense to ride the Orange shuttle all the way to Ooh Ahh Point first and do the hike first, then use the shuttle “backwards” for the other three viewpoints? Also, we have two full days in the park and then head out Wednesday morning for Antelope Canyon. We plan to do the Desert View drive part on our way out on Wednesday, but I was wondering what you would do to fill 2 full days in the park. We are both 60 and moderate hikers. We have used your blogs for all of our trips this year and find ourselves doing your 2-3 mile hikes that are easy to moderate and we love throwing a 3-5 miler that’s moderate once in a while too. :). Thanks.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Tracie. You can ride the orange shuttle to the South Kaibab Trailhead, then go to Yaki Point, and then ride the shuttle to Mather Point. This would work well if you want to see Ooh Aah Point at sunrise. Another way to do it (and this would be more hiking) is to go to Yaki Point first, then the South Kaibab Trailhead next. Hike out and back to Ooh Aah Point, and then walk the Rim Trail to Mather Point and the visitor center. That afternoon, you could visit the Yavapai Museum, take a helicopter tour, or ride the red shuttle to the Hermit Road viewpoints. On day 2, I recommend walking a small portion of the Bright Angel Trail. Go 1.5 to 2.5 miles down this trail, turning around when you are ready, which would make this hike 3 to 5 miles. OR, walk the Rim Trail along a portion of Hermit Road (the area around Maricopa Point to Mojave Point would be nice), if you did not do these overlooks on day 1. In the afternoon, you could watch the IMAX movie in Tusayan, or do the Yavapai Museum or helicopter ride if you did not do that yesterday. On the drive Wednesday, visit the viewpoints along Desert View Drive, like you mentioned. I hope you have a great time! Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Ankita Kumari
    Ankita Kumari

    Thank you for the this itinerary. We did Grand Canyon yesterday and used this as reference. It was very helpful. Yesterday, Grand Canyon annual star party returned in-person after pandemic, it was so good to hear from someone at NASA followed by looking at the stars through telescope set-up my astronomers all across the US and Canada.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  3. Avatar for Rainer
  4. Avatar for Paula

    Those are just about the most breath-taking photos I’ve seen of the Grand Canyon and I’ve seen a lot! Thank you so much for sharing. What type of camera do you use?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for Billi Greenwell
    Billi Greenwell

    This is so helpful! My friends and I want to hike to some amazing views but one of our friends is injured from his last deployment so we are searching for easy hikes he can go on. These spots are perfect and will give us great views without leaving out our friend.

  6. Avatar for tom hardcastle
    tom hardcastle

    How do I get a brochure on the Grand Canyon. How early are you allowed to go in. What is the middle October weather like. Thanks

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Tom. I don’t know anything about a brochure but you can get a lot more info on the National Park website and maps. The park is open 24 hours a day so you can enter anytime you like. The ticket booths have hours depending upon the season and usually open at 7 am or 8 am. If you enter before these hours you can drive right past the ticket booth without paying. In October the weather should be wonderful. Here’s a link for the weather in October. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Michele
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  8. Avatar for Nicoleta

    Hi, I was wondering if along the rim trail to Hermit’s rest there are any areas with trees to offer some shade and a good spot to rest and have a snack. We want to hike from Powell to Mojave, maybe more if we have the time. But we will do this starting at 11. 30 am in June and if it gets too hot, it will be good to know if there is any area where we could stop in the shade. We plan to start the day early, coming from the east, stop at Desert View, Grandview Point, than take the hike to Ooh Aah. Is there a place to leave the car near South Kaibab Trail and walk to the trailhead? I mean coming from the east, to go directly to the hike and not go park the car to the visitor center and then take the shuttle back to South Kaibab trail. Thank you!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      There are trees along the trail between Mohave and Powell. They aren’t big trees but they might offer a bit of shade. You can see the trail on Google Maps: you can drop the little man on the trail for the “street view” and then you will know exactly what to expect. There is some parking along Desert View Drive near Yaki Road (the road you take to get to the South Kaibab trailhead). Keep your fingers crossed that you will be able to get a spot here (I imagine they fill up early in the summer months). It might not be a bad idea to park your car at near the Visitor Center and take the shuttle. I have heard that it can be difficult to find parking here during the summer months. You will need to park here, anyway, to take the shuttle out to Hermit Road. We will also be at the Grand Canyon in June and we are wondering the same thing about parking. Cheers, Julie

  9. Avatar for Pattie

    Hi. We are taking our grandkids (10 & 7) to the Grand Canyon late May after school is out. I know, I know, Memorial Day will be HORRENDOUS, but with summer swim practices and baseball practices, what choice did we have? Thank you for noting other viewpoints, the “hunt” will help us with our time allotment. BTW – I sent you an earlier email regarding our trip from the boot of Italy to Croatia……..I’m still working on it – trying to find the best and most cost advantaged way to see both. The older I get, the less fun planning itineraries have become! 🙁 AND, we went to NYC first week of December…..stayed in Greenwich – what fun! We walked everywhere…..8.6 miles was the highest in one day, but loved every minute.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      To survive the crowds at the Grand Canyon, get into the park by sunrise (or earlier). It seems like many people don’t make it until 9 am. So you can have at least a few peaceful hours before the hoards arrive. 🙂 We are working on your email, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about you. 🙂 Emails take us several days because we get tons everyday. Cheers, Julie

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