Julie United States 33 Comments

For millions of years, the Colorado River has carved its way through the Colorado Plateau, forming this expansive, awe-inspiring landscape that we call the Grand Canyon. And it certainly is grand. Words cannot describe what it is like to gaze across the Grand Canyon for the first time.

On a visit to the Grand Canyon, there is more to do than just look out over the canyon from the Visitor Center. Walk along the rim, watch the sunrise, take a helicopter flight, tour the viewpoints by bicycle, or hike below the rim.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most accessible and most popular section of the canyon to visit. This article focuses on the best things to do in the Grand Canyon on the South Rim. At the end of the article, we give you itinerary ideas and tips to help you have the best experience.

 

While in Grand Canyon National Park, 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.

Facts About the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long. It is estimated that the Colorado River has been at work for 5 to 6 million years, carving out the canyon.

The Grand Canyon officially became a national park on February 26, 1919.

The Grand Canyon is the second most visited park in the United States. Great Smoky Mountain National Park comes in first place, with 12.5 million visitors in 2019 (by comparison, the Grand Canyon only saw a mere 6 million visitors).

Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon

Here are some of the best ways to experience the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

1. Visit the South Rim Viewpoints

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.

There are three sections to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon: Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon Village, and Hermit Road. Each of these sections offers a slightly different experience, and if you have the time, it is worth it to visit each spot.

Near Grand Canyon Village

To get between these viewpoints, you can walk the Rim Trail or take the shuttle (Kaibab Rim Route, orange line).

  • Mather Point – most popular viewpoint on the South Rim; expect huge crowds and decent views
  • Yavapai Point – panoramic views with less crowds than Mather Point
  • Yaki Point – Stunning views of the Grand Canyon and you can see the South Kaibab Trail weaving its way to the Colorado River
  • Ooh Aah Point – located on the South Kaibab Trail and it is one of our favorite viewpoints of the Grand Canyon

Yavapai Point

Yavapai Point

 

Yaki Point

Yaki Point

Along Hermit Road

Hermit Road is 7 miles long. From March 1 to November 30 you must take the Grand Canyon Shuttle (red line). During the winter months, you can drive to the viewpoints but parking can be limited.

  • Powell Point – jaw-dropping views with outcroppings of rock that make great photo spots
  • Mohave Point – more amazing views; there are several different photo spots that offer slightly different views
  • Pima Point – another great location for panoramic views of the Grand Canyon

Mohave Point Sunrise

Mohave Point

Along Desert View Drive

The Grand Canyon Shuttle does not travel to these viewpoints so you will need a car. This road is 25 miles long. If you are entering or leaving the Grand Canyon through the east entrance (for example, if you are also visiting Page, Arizona or Monument Valley), you can visit these viewpoints as you drive to/from Grand Canyon Village.

  • Shoshone Point – Great spot to leave the crowds behind; short hike to the viewpoint
  • Grand View Point – The name says it all
  • Moran Point – Explore the rocky outcroppings to find your favorite photo spot
  • Desert View Point – Easternmost viewpoint on the South Rim; climb the watchtower for 360° views

Moran Point

Moran Point

 

For a full list of the viewpoints, and ideas on how to plan your time, don’t miss our article: 16 Amazing South Rim Viewpoints.

2. Bike Along Hermit Road

Hermit Road is 7 miles long. It starts at the Grand Canyon Village and ends at Hermit’s Rest.

You can visit the viewpoints along Hermit Road by shuttle (from March 1 to November 30), by car (only between December 1 and February 28), by foot, or by bike.

Out of these options, touring Hermit Road by bicycle sounds like the most fun. Plus, this is one of the best family friendly things to do in the Grand Canyon. You can visit the viewpoints on your own schedule, without hopping from shuttle from shuttle or dealing with finding a parking spot. And it’s much quicker than walking the entire 7 miles.

Bright Angel Bicycles has a package where you can rent bicycles for one day. With their Hermit Shuttle Package, you cycle from Hopi Point to Hermit’s Rest. A shuttle transports you back to the Grand Canyon Village so you do not have to bike 14 miles round trip. This is a great option for families with kids and those who do not want a long bike trip.

3. Walk the South Rim Trail

The South Rim trail is a flat, mostly paved trail that heads along the edge of the rim. It is 13 miles (21 km) long, stretching from Hermit’s Rest to the South Kaibab trailhead.

Of course, you don’t have to walk all 13 miles. You can pick a small section of the trail to walk, using the Grand Canyon shuttle to hop your way along the South Rim Trail.

Learn more here.

4. Hike Below the Rim

One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to hike below the rim. There are several options to do this from the South Rim.

Bright Angel Trail

The Bright Angel Trail is a very popular trail. It’s easily accessible, starting right in the Grand Canyon Village. This trail starts on the rim and ends at the Bright Angel Campground near the Colorado River. It is 9.5 miles long and descends 4380 feet.

Hike Grand Canyon

The view from the Bright Angel Trail

 

Bright Angel Trail

Switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail

The National Park service discourages people from hiking from the rim to the Colorado River and back to the rim in one day. Over 200 people are rescued every year due to fatigue and heat exhaustion.

You can hike a portion of the Bright Angel Trail and still have a great experience. Here are 4 day hike options.

1.5 Mile Resthouse: Distance: 3 miles round-trip. You will rapidly descend from the rim on a switchback trail. The view is good, but honestly, it’s not spectacular. Much of the Bright Angel Trail descends through a canyon, so you don’t get those sweeping views like you get from the rim. This hike is more about the experience going below the rim than having a stunning view.

3 Mile Resthouse: 6 miles round-trip. Descend further into the canyon. The views do not change much from the 1.5 Mile Resthouse hike.

Indian Garden: 9 miles round-trip. Just past 3 Mile Resthouse, the trail “levels out.” You are still walking downhill, but at a lower grade than on the first part of this hike. Indian Garden is a small campground with water. The NPS website recommends going no farther than this point in the summer. We hiked up the Bright Angel Trail in June as part of our rim-to-rim hike. At 1 pm, the thermometer read 98 degrees at Indian Garden and temperatures got even hotter the closer you got to the Colorado River.

Plateau Point: 12 miles round-trip. At Indian Garden, you can take the trail to Plateau Point for a stunning view over the Colorado River.

Visit the national park website for more information on these hikes.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Hiking down the Bright Angel Trail is going to be a lot faster and a lot easier than hiking back up. Make sure you start early in the day, bring plenty of salty food and water, and plan to give yourself plenty of time for the return hike back up to the rim. If this is your first time hiking, especially during the summer months, consider turning around at 1.5 Mile Resthouse or 3 Mile Resthouse.

South Kaibab Trail

The South Kaibab Trail also starts on the rim and ends at the Colorado River. It is shorter and steeper than the Bright Angel Trail (it’s 7 miles long with 4800 feet of elevation loss). It is also more spectacular, in my opinion. There is a lot more exposure on the trail, which gives you expansive, jaw-dropping views of the Grand Canyon.

To get here, you will need to take the Grand Canyon shuttle or walk the rim trail to the South Kaibab trailhead.

Here are day hike ideas for the South Kaibab Trail.

Ooh Aah Point:  1.8 miles round trip. Amazing viewpoint! Tyler and I were here at sunrise and this is one of my favorite spots in the Grand Canyon. It’s a very steep descent to get here (and a hefty climb back up to the rim later in the day) but it’s worth it for this view.

Ooh Aah Point

Ooh Aah Point Sunrise

Cedar Ridge: 3 miles round-trip. Enjoy more everchanging views as you descend farther into the canyon.

Skeleton Point: 6 miles round trip. Just past Skeleton Point you get your first view of the Colorado River. The NPS website recommends going no farther than this point as a day hike. From here, it’s still a very long ways to go until you reach the Colorado River.

Visit the national park website for more information on these hikes.

Bright Angel or South Kaibab? If you only have time for one trail, without a doubt, the winner is the South Kaibab. The views are much better and this trail tends to be a little bit less crowded, since you have to take a shuttle bus to get here. For most of the hike on the Bright Angel Trail you are in a canyon, so you don’t get the same expansive views like you do on the South Kaibab Trail.

South Rim to Colorado River to South Rim

In Two Days

You can connect the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail into one epic hike. Most people will hike down one trail to the Colorado River, spend the night at Phantom Ranch or camp at Bright Angel Campground, and hike up the other trail on day two. In order to do this, you need two days and a permit to camp or very good luck (and advance planning) to get a reservation at Phantom Ranch.

South Kaibab Trail

Tyler Hiking Grand Canyon

Colorado River Grand Canyon

Colorado River

In One Day

Even though the National Park Service discourages it, it is possible to hike from the South Rim to the South Rim in one day. But this is not a decision to be made lightly.

The entire round-trip hike is 16.5 miles with a massive descent at the beginning and nearly a mile of elevation gain at the end. This is a long hike with a huge amount of elevation changes. During the summer months, this becomes a very dangerous hike. 

Tyler and I did this hike in December. It was a very pleasant 52°F, perfect weather for hiking. We did not have to battle soaring temperatures which made this much more enjoyable.

I would only attempt this hike if you are very fit and have lots of hiking experience. This is not a hike for newbie hikers and weekend warriors. You should be able to easily walk 10 miles while wearing a backpack, preferably in very hilly terrain.

5. Ride a Mule into the Grand Canyon

If hiking is not your thing, you can ride a mule into the canyon. Xanterra offers mule trips on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This is an extremely popular thing to do and tickets are offered by lottery. Learn more here.

6. Watch the Grand Canyon IMAX Movie

This is a great, low-key activity to add to your list of things to do. In the IMAX theater in the Visitor Center, you can watch 34-minute movie about the Grand Canyon. It’s not quite as thrilling as seeing the Grand Canyon from the viewpoints or hiking below the rim, but this makes a great midday activity to do during the summer, since you can escape the heat in the air-conditioned theater.

Learn more here.

7. Take a Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon

A Grand Canyon helicopter tour can be a thrilling way to experience the awe-inspiring views and stunning beauty that the Grand Canyon has to offer. This allows you to see parts of the Grand Canyon that you cannot see from the South Rim viewpoints.

Grand Canyon Helicopter

Grand Canyon Helicopter Flight

You can take your pick from several flight options that leave right from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

8. Yavapai Museum of Geology

Learn about the history and formation of the Grand Canyon in this museum which is located in the historic Yavapai Observation Station. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so it makes a nice activity to do midday. Plus, you can enjoy another stunning view across the Grand Canyon from the large picture windows.

9. Walk the Trail of Time

The Trail of Time is a short walk (1.7 miles) that is actually a portion of the Rim Trail. It starts at the Verkamp’s Visitor Center and ends at the Yavapai Geological Museum. Along the way are 13 information panels that explain the geological history of the Grand Canyon.

10. Watch Sunrise and Sunset over the Grand Canyon

From one of many viewpoints, watch as the sun rises over the Grand Canyon, lighting it up in warm hues of reds, pinks, and oranges. Or, at the end of the day, behold the view as the sun descends toward the horizon, washing the canyon in warm light and making it glow just before nightfall.

It may be tough to roll out of bed early, but you will share the view with just a handful of other visitors. At sunset, expect to share the view with large crowds of people.

Here is a highly rated tour where you can view the sunset from Desert View Watchtower and your transportation is handled by the tour company.

Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon

Hopi Viewpoint

 

Shoshone Viewpoint

Shoshone Viewpoint

 

Mohave Point

Mohave Point

As far as picking the best viewpoints, they are all wonderful. We drove along Hermit Road at sunrise and all of the viewpoints were phenomenal.

Hopi Point, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, and Mohave Point are all popular. I think that Ooh Aah Point is gorgeous at sunrise. At sunset, if you want to get away from the crowds, try Shoshone Point (the view may not be quite as stunning as Yavapai or Hopi but the hike to get here will keep the viewpoint quiet) or one of the other viewpoints on Desert View Road.

Take a look at our post on the Grand Canyon viewpoints for more ideas.

11. Take a Ranger Guided Tour

Ranger guided tours are offered daily on the South Rim. Get a geology lesson or learn about the animals that call the Grand Canyon home. This is a great activity if you will be visiting the Grand Canyon with kids. Learn more about the ranger guided programs here.

Grand Canyon Itinerary

Grand Canyon on a Day Trip

If you just have a few hours to spend in the Grand Canyon (for example, if you are visiting the canyon on road trip from Page, Arizona to Las Vegas), you can see a few viewpoints and do a short hike.

If you will be driving down Desert View Road, it’s worth making a stop at several of these viewpoints. Desert View and Grand View Point are wonderful. Park in the Visitor Center and use the shuttle to get around. From here, you can either walk part of the South Rim Trail or hike below the rim. I recommend the 2-mile round trip hike to Ooh Aah Point.

1 Day in the Grand Canyon

Roll out of bed early, take the shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead, and hike out to Ooh Aah Point. Go at sunrise or a little later. Having some daylight will make it safer to hike down the trail (bring a headlamp if you want to get to Ooh Aah Point right at sunrise). By doing this first thing in the day, you can hike with low traffic on the trail and before it really starts to heat up. Turn around at Ooh Aah Point or keep going until you reach Cedar Point or Skeleton Point.

With the rest of your time in the morning (if you only hiked to Ooh Aah Point), visit the viewpoints near the Grand Canyon Village. Have lunch in the Village. Spend the afternoon cycling along the viewpoints on Hermit Road, or watch the IMAX movie and visit the Geology Museum. Have dinner in the Village. End with sunset views over the Grand Canyon.

Click here to read our detailed post about how to spend one day in the Grand Canyon.

2 Days in the Grand Canyon

Follow our 1 day in the Grand Canyon. On your second day, you can visit the viewpoints along Desert View Road, hike part of the Bright Angel Trail, and/or take a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon.

For an epic 2-day adventure, hike the Grand Canyon South Rim to South Rim. On day 1, hike the South Kaibab trail to the Bright Angel Campground. Camp here overnight (a permit is required) or stay at the Phantom Ranch Lodge (reservations need to be made well in advance). On day 2, hike up the Bright Angel Trail.

Or, if you are super fit, have lots of hiking experience, and like the idea of doing it all in one day, hike both trails in one day. This is best done from October through April, when temperatures in the canyon aren’t sweltering.

3 Days in the Grand Canyon

With 3 days in the Grand Canyon, you can do almost everything on this list. Take your time, savor the views, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Yaki Point December

Yaki Point

How to Get to the South Rim

You can get to the South Rim by car, bus, train, plane, helicopter, or on a tour.

Most people get to the Grand Canyon by car, usually on a road trip through the American Southwest. Here are the driving distances and times from nearby destinations:

  • Phoenix: 230 miles, 3.5 hours
  • Las Vegas: 280 miles, 4.5 hours
  • Page, Arizona: 133 miles, 2.5 hours
  • Flagstaff, Arizona: 80 miles, 1.5 hours
  • Monument Valley: 176 miles, 3 hours
  • Zion National Park: 240 miles, 4.25 hours

By plane or helicopter, you can fly into Tusayan airport. Tusayan is a small town that is located 15 minutes south of the Grand Canyon Village by car. It is possible to book a tour from Las Vegas where you fly into Tusayan and then tour the Grand Canyon on foot or by helicopter.

There are options to take a bus or a train to the Grand Canyon. Click here to learn more.

Map of GC Village

Map of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

When to Go

The Grand Canyon can be visited year round. Peak season is during the summer months and during the holiday seasons of Easter and Christmas. During these times, expect large crowds, traffic jams to enter the park, and hotels booked to capacity.

Spring and fall are great times to visit the park. The weather is pleasant and the park isn’t overly crowded.

From June through September, expect hot conditions and large crowds.

Winter is the off-season. Crowds will be low, but so will the temperatures. Snow is a possibility, but that will only make the Grand Canyon look more magical.

Desert View Point

Desert View Point

Park Fees and Hours of Operation

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open 24 hours 365 days a year.

The entrance fee is $35 and is valid for 7 days. This fee also includes the visit to the North Rim.

If you plan to visit the North Rim, you should be aware that it is only open from mid-May through mid-October. The road to the North Rim is closed in the winter due to snow. You can check conditions on the official National Park Service website. If you plan to drive from the South Rim to the North Rim, it takes roughly 4 to 5 hours.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Check for trail closures, road closures, and get important updates before your visit on the official national park website.

Tours of the Grand Canyon

Here are several highly rated tours that you can add on to your visit to the Grand Canyon.

 

Where to Stay

There are five hotels located in the Grand Canyon Village (El Tovar, Thunderbird Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Maswick Lodge). Staying here gives you the advantage of easy access to the shuttles, short walks to several of the viewpoints, and no hassles driving into and out the park every day. However, the hotels get mediocre reviews and many people say they are expensive for what you get.

Click here to view the lodges and get updated pricing. These hotels fill up very far in advance. Make your reservations 4 – 6 months in advance.

You also have the option to stay in Tusayan. From Tusayan, it is a 15-minute drive into the park. There are several hotels to choose from as well as some restaurants.

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 Best Western and the Holiday Inn Express are two more hotels to try in Tusayan.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you stay in Tusayan, plan to arrive at the Grand Canyon Village no later than 8 am so that you do not get stuck in traffic jams to enter the park, and to make sure you get a parking spot. Or, during the summer months, take the shuttle that runs between Tusayan and the Grand Canyon Village.

More Information about the Grand Canyon:

Here are the links to our other articles about the Grand Canyon, with some more ideas about what to do in the area.

Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Road trip itineraries that include the Grand Canyon


If you have any questions about the best things to do in the Grand Canyon and have any questions, comment below!

You Might Also Like:

 

Grand Canyon Best Things To Do

 

Grand Canyon Best Things To Do
Grand Canyon South Rim Travel Guide

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Comments 33

  1. Hello, my family and I are planning a trip to the south rim in mid- August. I have heard conflicting reports on the weather. I have heard it will be really hot, I have also heard that up on the rim it is much milder and the average temp is in the mid 80s. But down below is where it gets really hot. Could you please clarify? Thanks!

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      In general, it is much cooler on the South Rim than down by the river. Yes, you are correct that the average temps on the Rim are in the 80’s. But down by the river it can be 120 degrees (when it is 80 degrees on the Rim). This year is hotter than normal and temps have been in the 90s and sometimes topping out over 100 degrees. That’s on the Rim and it will be hotter if you hike down the South Kaibab or Bright Angel Trails. Keep your fingers crossed that it will be cooler in August but I would plan for those hot temps. Go out early in the day and stay hydrated. If it’s extremely hot, avoid doing long hikes below the rim. Sunset and sunrise are beautiful times to visit the Grand Canyon so you can still have a great time here even if it’s hotter than normal. Cheers, Julie

  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog! Lots of good information. We are planning a trip Aug 13-27, starting and ending in Las Vegas. I have 2 nights at El Tovar and Im waiting to hear about the lottery for another night at GC. What is the weather like in mid Aug? Are the cross starting to go down by these dates? We were also planning to drive to Page, Bryce Canyon and Zion before heading back. Where is a good place to stay? Should I book a couple nights at each location or book a place close to all and drive back n forth?

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      In mid-August it will be hot during the day and cooler at night. Temps can easily reach 100 degrees on the south rim in August. This is also the month when afternoon thunderstorms are most likely to occur. With these year’s drought, if it continues until August, temps could be even hotter but rainfall would be less. Crowds can remain high through Labor Day weekend and then start to get better into September. As for where to stay in Page, Bryce, and Zion, check out our American Southwest Road Trip itinerary, which gives lodging recommendations and what to do in each place. Cheers, Julie

  3. Thank you very much for this great blog. Very informative and useful tips. I got everything marked into my trip planner. I am planning a trip and booked Yavapai Lodged for 2 days with my 3 kids. That is June 5th and 6th. Unfortunately its a weekend but due to our 11 day trip, its a hassle to change now. Hope we can enjoy many spots that you have mentioned here and start early. Do you think the Angel view point is dangerous to hike with children? One of my friends said it is dangerous and not to take it. But I see that its a very popular trail. My children are 21,19 and 9.

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      Hello Samanthi. The thing that makes Bright Angel Trail dangerous is the heat. In the summer months, the trail gets very hot. People quickly hike down it without realizing how strenuous it is to get back up. Then they get overheated on the way back up and there are frequently rescues where the national park service has to assist people, either by hiking up with them or by helicopter. We saw a helicopter rescue for a teenage girl at the 4 mile point when we hiked this trail in June. The trick to staying safe is starting early, bring plenty of water, refill your water at 3-mile resthouse (if it is open, which it should be in June, but you should check before you hike), and only walk to 3-mile resthouse or a little bit beyond this point. This trail is wide and easy to follow and it is not dangerous in the fact that you could fall off of it over a cliff. There are no steep drop-offs on this part of the trail. If you started at sunrise, not only would it be cool, but the trail will not have big crowds. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi There! First and foremost, this is my favorite travel blog…you guys provide a real wealth of information! We are planning on doing the rim-to-rim hike May 2022 from North Rim to South Rim as you recommend (luckily have reservations at Phantom Ranch). I really like the idea of hiking up to the South Rim, spending the night, and taking the shuttle back to the North Rim the next day. With that said, do you recommend 2 nights in the South Rim before heading back to the North Rim (meaning, taking an extra day to explore the sights in the South Rim) or do you think we will see plenty of the canyon from the North Rim and the Rim-To-Rim hike that we can just head back the day after our climb up to explore other areas in the SW?

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      Hello Priya. That’s awesome that you got Phantom Ranch reservations!! Yes, I think that adding a day on the south rim is worth it. It’s epic to cross the canyon on foot. But it is also an essential experience to look out over the Grand Canyon from some of the overlooks. You could potentially visit some of the overlooks on the day you get back up to the south rim, but you might be tired and just need a rest. One leisurely day to explore the overlooks sounds great to me, especially if you have the time to do it. Don’t miss Ooh Aah Point…you’ll get an awesome view of the South Kaibab Trail. Cheers, Julie

  5. Hello family, my name is Angel, I am from Madrid, Spain, I am planning a trip on the west of the US this summer (if it’s possible to travel in this situation), and I would (or will) spend almost two full days in the Grand Canyon South rim, but according to the route I have planned, those two days would be a week end. I suppose week ends will be very crowded at the Grand Canyon, so I would have to change my route to avoid the week end. Do you think it is worth to do that, or can I leave my route as it is? I will visit the North rim too on my way to the north (Zion, Bryce…). My route is 25 days, starting in San Francisco and ending in Denver, so I would have to do more changes than just those two days in the Grand Canyon,
    I am a great follower of yours, last year I read your adventure in Norway because I was going to travel there, but finally that was no possible because of Covid, and now I would like to do this trip on the west of the US.

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      Hello Angel. Yes, you are correct in that the weekend will be busier, but it won’t be a giant increase in crowds. I don’t think that it is worth it to change your entire itinerary just to avoid the Grand Canyon on the weekend. There are things you can do to minimize crowds. Get started very early, around sunrise. Usually, the US national parks don’t get crowded until 8 am. So if you don’t mind rolling out of bed early, you can at least have an hour or two with very light crowds. Plus, sunrise is a beautiful time to see the Grand Canyon. If you can, stay in Grand Canyon village. This will save you time and the hassle of driving to and from Tusayan. Or, stay in Tusayan and get into the park by 7 am (or earlier). Sometimes in the national parks, we take a break midday (from 11 to 2) when crowds are the highest, relaxing in a quiet spot or back at our hotel. I think if you packed a picnic lunch and had it at Shoshone Point, away from the crowds, it would be a very nice experience. I hope everything works out for your travel plans this summer and I hope you get to Norway soon. We are hoping to get back to Europe, as well. There is still a lot we want to see and do in Spain. Cheers, Julie

      1. Hello Julie, thank you so much for your answer and your advices. I was planning an alternative route, but you are wright, it’s hard to change an itinerary when you have already planned it (and I plan it very carefully, which I enjoy too as well as the trip itself).
        I will follow your suggestions as the experienced hiker and traveller you are. And I will keep following your adventures.
        Hope you have a very good time when coming to Spain.
        Cheers
        Angel

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  6. We are coming by RV in April and I wondering if there are RV inside the park. Or do we have to drive our RV inside the park each day?

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  7. Hi there! Love your blog and site. We are from Georgia trying to plan a February President’s day trip- the kids have the week off. Our Grand Canyon/Antelope Canyon/Bryce/Zion trip was cancelled due to COVID in April. Is February a good time to due this itinerary? Or should we plan a New Mexico/Big Bend trip? Or any other suggestion for that time of year? Any of the US continental Parks we are opened to. Thanks!

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      Both trips should be good in February. Just keep an eye on El Paso…their COVID case count is very high right now and there are reports of people having to be airlifted to other hospitals for treatment. I know this because we were considering a trip to White Sands and Guadalupe Mountains NP in January 20201 but changed our minds once we heard this. We actually were in El Paso in March 2020, when COVID spiked, and ended our trip early (postponing White Sands and Guadalupe).

      We have done a Grand Canyon – Utah trip at the end of December and loved it. It will be cold in some places and there could be some snow. That could be good or bad, depending on whether or not you like snow. Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley might be closed due to COVID so check this first before making your decision. But crowds should be low (most likely) this time of year. So I guess your Grand Canyon Utah trip gets my vote.

      Another option is the Grand Canyon plus Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Park. You could road trip from Las Vegas to LA. Death Valley and Joshua Tree will be warmer than the Utah parks, if that matters to you. We currently don’t have any info on Joshua Tree (hoping to get there in January) but Death Valley is one of my favorite national parks. But really, whatever you choose in that part of the country, it will be amazing.

      If you narrow things down and have more questions, don’t hesitate to write back in.

      Cheers, Julie

  8. Hi, I just want to send a big thanks for the indispensable advice and suggestions provided here. Congrats on creating such an insightful, helpful, time- and angst-saving resource. I recently returned from a 14-day Southwest road trip using lots of tips and highlights culled from your Utah and Arizona sections. Thanks again!

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  9. This is awesome! We visited the Grand Canyon last year and did many of these things on a quick trip. We walked the trail of time and spent some time in the Yavapai Geology Museum where we saw the large relief of the entire Grand Canyon. It was very impressive because just a few days prior we were on the north rim almost directly across from where we were standing. We were about 16 miles away but it had taken us days to make our way around the canyon!! Of course we enjoyed the entire trip and can’t wait to go back again. We ended up sleeping at the Red Feather Inn, I chose that because it is very close and you can catch the shuttle from there. My timeline had to include close sleeping arrangements because it is not safe to drive at night in that area.
    I did write a blog to chronicle our itinerary 🙂 I will share in case you or anyone else are interested.
    http://Www.savvysinglemamatravels.com

  10. Super helpful information. We were looking for more information that compared the experiences for the trails and you’ve made it easy for us to decide where we could spend more time hiking. Thanks so much!

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  11. Thank you so much for this post! I started researching Grand Canyon about a year ago and just got back from my trip. I’ve had this page bookmarked and hit most things you listed. Spent a couple nights backpacking at the bottom and 4 nights on top.

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  12. Hi Julie,

    If we get to the park around 6 pm, will we still be able to go in, walk/drive around and see the sunset ? I think the visitor center at South Rim closes at 6 pm but I hope the gates to the park does not ? Also if go back the next day, will we have to pay to enter the park on both days ? Or do you recommend we take a shuttle into the park?

    Thank you !

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      The park is always open. The visitor center does open and close, but when the visitor center is closed, you are still free to walk/drive around the park. The entrance booths typically open at 6 or 7 am (times change based on the season). If you visit before the booth “opens,” you drive into the park for free. Park tickets usually are valid for 7 days, so you can visit multiple days on one ticket. If you are visiting during peak season (May through September and holidays) plan to get in very early (sunrise) or use the shuttle. Cheers, Julie

  13. I just found your website – very informative! My husband and I are staying at the Grand Hotel @ South Rim and arriving 10/31. We are traveling with his 80 year old grandparents – they have traveled the world and the Grand Canyon is one of the last on their bucket list. That being said, I want to see as much as possible (I’m really into photography) but I am concerned with all the walking that could be involved for them. Any specific recommendations? I also worry about the need for restrooms (often) for them as well. One day we are driving to Antelope Canyon and doing a tour from there, I am very excited about that.
    Suggestions are very welcome!

    Thank you,
    Mandy

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      Hello Mandy. To get to many of the sites on the South Rim, park your car in one of the lots and then use the Grand Canyon shuttle to get to the viewpoints. You can see a lot without doing a lot of walking by using the shuttle. It will drop you off and pick you up all along Hermit Road and throughout the Grand Canyon Village. There are restrooms throughout the Grand Canyon Village and at the end of Hermit Road, so hopefully that should not be too much of an issue. As for Desert View Road, you will have to drive this in your car and restrooms are a bit more sparse, but there one at the end of the road at the Desert View Inn. If you want to have low crowds, start early in the day. It’s also very nice to see the sunrise (see our viewpoint article for recommendations), and this is one of the best times for photography. Cheers, Julie

  14. Love your insight. I’m going to the Grand Canyon in early December. What are your recommendations for gear? What type of footwear – do I need crampons?

    Cheers

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      For the most part, hiking shoes or boots are sufficient. If you plan to do a lot of hiking, you could bring along traction cleats or micro spikes if it is icy. Cheers, Julie

  15. I just found your website and I am loving your detailed travel guides! We are making a family RV trip from Phoenix to northern Utah in the next few week. We are planning on doing a day at the Grand Canyon and then a day at Bryce Canyon. We have four your kids ages 2-8 and I’m wondering what short hikes you would recommend at the South Rim?

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      Hello Kara. I’m glad you like our site! The easiest trail would be the trail along the South Rim trail. You can get some spectacular views from here and since you aren’t far from the shuttle, you can always bail out if someone gets tired and cranky. I’m a big fan of the hike to Ooh Aah Point, especially early in the morning. It’s not as popular as the Bright Angel Trail, since it’s a little harder to get to, so it will be less crowded, and the views are better, in my opinion. It will be a tough hike back up but I think it’s worth it. The Bright Angel is nice, but the views don’t change that much, so that’s why I think that the South Kaibab is better. Cheers, Julie

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