Grand Canyon South Rim is overflowing with extraordinarily dramatic viewpoints and right here we’re going to show you 20 of the very best views to find when you visit the world famous national park for yourself.
The beauty of a visit to Grand Canyon South Rim is being able to see the best views without having to make any effort. You know, like climbing a mountain or driving up a steep, narrow and winding pass!
Grand Canyon National Park comes pre-loaded with postcard perfect views anyone can access at any time of the year, which is why South Rim is widely regarded as one of the best places to visit in the US.
We’re taking you on a tour of South Rim from Hermits Rest in the West, through Grand Canyon village as far as Desert View in the East. We’ll even step inside the canyon for unique views hikers can enjoy.
Are you ready to see the most amazing views around Grand Canyon South Rim?!
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Map Of Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints
Before we get stuck into descriptions and photos of each viewpoint, take a quick look at the graphic we created below to familiarize yourself with each area of Grand Canyon South Rim.
We will display each viewpoint in this exact order from West at Hermits Rest, through the village and out to the East as far as Desert View.
You can refer back to this map and make a note of which viewpoints you want to prioritize during your visit to Grand Canyon.
- Red – Hermit Road: Starting furthest West at Hermits Rest and tracking East toward Grand Canyon village.
- Blue – Grand Canyon village: Starting where Hermit Road ends, tracking East and ending where Desert View Drive begins.
- Green – Desert View Drive: Starting where the village area ends and tracking East to Desert View.
- Orange Circle – Yaki Point: The viewpoint is located on Yaki Point Road, a 1 mile spur off Desert View Drive. You cannot access this viewpoint by car. You must take the orange hiker express shuttle from the village or park your car on Desert View Drive and walk 1 mile to the viewpoint.
Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints On Hermit Road
Let’s begin to the West of Grand Canyon village. Hermit Road will get you to around half of the best viewpoints along Grand Canyon South Rim but it is very different to Desert View Drive, which we will get to later.
For starters, Hermit Road is not an access road to enter or leave Grand Canyon village. It is a dead end with a very obvious turnaround point at Hermits Rest.
Plus, there are a higher number of viewpoints packed into a much smaller area. This results in a more densely populated tourist heavy area.
- Distance: Hermit Road is just 8 miles long, from Bright Angel Trailhead to Hermits Rest.
- Important: This road can only be accessed by Red shuttle bus for 9 months of the year. December through February you can drive your own vehicle up Hermit Road.
One of the more appealing parts of visiting Hermit Road over Desert View Drive is that you can walk a South Rim hugging trail all the way from Hermits Rest back to the village.
Many of Grand Canyon South Rim’s best sunset locations are located along Hermit Road, including the hugely popular Hopi Point viewpoint.
Let’s get stuck into the best views starting furthest West and working back to Grand Canyon village.
1. Hermits Rest
Hermits Rest is the furthest viewpoint you can reach heading West along Hermit Road from Grand Canyon village. This is the last Red shuttle stop and you can park your own car here in Winter.
The view into Grand Canyon isn’t among the best on South Rim. Sunset would be the best time of day to peer into the canyon from here but there are better spots to try first.
However, if you have time we highly recommend you take the shuttle all the way to historic Hermits Rest and walk at least some of the Rim trail back toward the village.
One of the first things you will notice here is a stone arch with Hermits Rest plaque and a bell, which is a perfect photo opportunity. There are also restrooms available here.
You will find an old stone building with enormous fire place and cafe attached to the side at Hermits Rest. We each sat in chairs next to the fireplace with a hot chocolate on a cold day in October during our first visit.
If you’re looking for an extremely quiet hike down into the canyon, you might want to consider backcountry hiking down steep and winding Hermit Trail. You can reach Hermit Creek campground after around 7 miles one-way and you’ll barely see another soul.
Next stop: Pima Point – Distance 1 mile.
2. Pima Point
Things become far more simple as you begin the journey back to Grand Canyon village. After leaving Hermits Rest it is all about the views, and what a place to start.
Pima Point is one of the best viewpoints along Grand Canyon South Rim. The photo above shows a Northwest view from Pima Point in late afternoon and you can already see the deep dark shadows forming.
You have some of the closest views over amazing rock formations inside the canyon here. A flat plateau, huge cracks and an awesome C shaped butte give you variation but the star of the show is the Colorado River.
If you listen closely, you can sometimes hear sound waves from Colorado River rapids bouncing against its walls when conditions are favorable.
Sunset is a great time to visit Pima Point when you can see the canyon glowing to the East, but earlier in the day will mean fewer shadows.
Next stop: Monument Creek Vista – Distance 1.8 miles.
3. Monument Creek Vista
The view over Monument Creek is one of the most picturesque along this section of Grand Canyon South Rim.
Although your view is very limited to the East and West by huge walls, the narrow creek is home to a stunning red multi-tiered rock formation curving out toward the Colorado River.
The photo above was taken from further around to the West side of the actual vista point at the shuttle stop. However, the best view of Monument Creek is from right where the shuttle stops as you can look North into the canyon and a keen eye might even spot Granite Rapid on the river.
It can be challenging to grab this photo without shadows due to its position relative to the sun. In Summer when the sun is higher you’ll have a better chance around midday.
Next stop: The Abyss – Distance 1 mile.
4. The Abyss
The Abyss is a favorite viewpoint because it features the longest sheer vertical drop (3000 ft) along Grand Canyon South Rim.
If you look closely at the angled red slopes on either side of the Abyss, you will notice pockets of white rocks. This is a sign of gravity at work, using its pulling force to tear away at the walls around The Abyss.
There are no fault lines here and very little water runs into the Colorado River from this huge cavernous gap in the earth. It is just a result of time and gravity.
The Abyss is best shot around mid-morning when the sun directs its light up through the canyon here. Otherwise its golden hours, pre sunrise or post sunset for no shadows and soft light on the rocks.
Next stop: Mohave Point – Distance 1.1 miles.
5. Mohave Point
Often overlooked in favor of nearby Hopi Point (which we will cover next), Mohave Point is a contender for best sunset view on the South Rim.
There’s a tiny bottle necked and railed viewing area at the peak of Mohave Point. This narrow section can only fit a few people at once but it does offer wonderful close up views of buttes and a significant portion of the Colorado River.
Away from the railed viewing area, there are a lot of trees here blocking the view but you can find a spot further along the Rim to both sides.
However, we personally prefer the view of Mohave Point, as opposed to the view from Mohave Point. Not far from the Abyss if you are walking the Rim, you will reduce the angle as you look at Mohave Point.
The towering wall illuminates at sunset but it will be in shadow all morning.
Next stop: Hopi Point – Distance 1 mile.
6. Hopi Point
Hopi Point is widely regarded as the best viewpoint for sunset views along Grand Canyon South Rim and we find it hard to disagree.
One of the major reasons for its popularity among photographers is that you get both views of the canyon from Hopi Point. If you can’t decide whether to shoot into or away from the sun, Hopi Point is your solution.
To the East you can watch walls, buttes and cracks contrast between shadows and bright yellow light. Look West and you’ll see the sun so you can get a starburst as it rests on the flat horizon for a moment.
The railed viewing area right at the shuttle stop is OK, but we recommend you turn left and walk down the Rim a few meters until you find a gap along the edges. Just take care as the drop is significant.
in your frame you will be able to see a sliver of the Colorado River behind a thin red rock formation jutting out in the near left middle ground. It makes for an image filled with multiple elements.
The photo above is from our visit to Hopi Point in December. It was cold but clear, few people were around and we parked our own car a few feet away.
But we shared the space with hundreds of others during our visit in October, some of whom would sit right on the edges of the rocks in front of our camera set up on its tripod. Then we had to wait in line for a shuttle.
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like at sunset here between June and August, but we imagine rather busy!
Next stop: Powell Point – Distance 0.3 miles.
7. Powell Point
Powell Point is very close to Hopi Point and you can walk it in under 10 minutes. You also get to walk out a few meters into the canyon along a ridge to reach the viewing area. There are benches for sitting here but no rails.
If you’re goal is to capture a sunset directly facing the canyon formations, forget the over-crowded Hopi Point area and make your way here to Powell Point instead.
We used the photo above from Powell Point to show how you can capture canyon facing sunset views with deep dark shadows and soft golden yellows.
Notice the dark hazy clouds on the distant horizon? North Rim was shrouded in a haze from an entirely different weather system to South Rim.
Powell Point has a blocked West facing view but an expansive East facing view into Grand Canyon. If you want sun facing sunrises, Powell Point could be a quiet alternative to the busier spots in the village.
Next stop: Maricopa Point – Distance 0.5 miles.
8. Maricopa Point
Featuring extensive West and East facing views, we think Maricopa Point is a hugely underrated viewpoint along Grand Canyon South Rim.
You get to walk out quite a distance along a narrow ridge to reach the viewing area, which is completely encircled by railings with mesh in between.
Both times we have walked out to Maricopa Point we have been the only people at the viewpoint. Surprising for such a clear sighted vantage point.
The photo above is a West facing view from the overlook at Maricopa Point. We took it around 30 minutes after the photo at Powell Point, and this photo is facing Powell Point.
You can see those beautiful bright sun rays hitting the formations, but we increased the shadows to give a better idea of the view from here. In reality, those shadows were darker to the naked eye at the time.
Next stop: Trailview overlook – Distance 0.7 miles.
9. Trailview Overlook
You might be wondering why a viewpoint overlooking a hiking trail would be considered as one of the best views along Grand Canyon South Rim. We might have thought the same too, until we day hiked to the river and out.
The final few miles of Bright Angel are pretty tough and you keep looking up to the Rim hoping you’re getting closer. You can watch hikers struggle up those last few miles of the Bright Angel trail from Trailview Overlook.
Views of canyon formations don’t compare to other viewpoints but you can see Bright Angel trail switchbacks and hiking path cutting through the canyon floor below.
It’s hard to see in our photo (the contrast between sun and shadow was intense!) but the drop off behind the railed viewing area here is significant so take care with younger kids.
Next stop: Bright Angel Trailhead – Distance 0.5 miles.
Need help organizing your visit to Grand Canyon South Rim?
Our popular 30+ page Grand Canyon South Rim Guidebook can help you with planning every aspect of your trip.
Best Grand Canyon Village Viewpoints
If you’re visiting Grand Canyon South Rim for one day and don’t have time to explore further or you don’t have access to a car, you can still see some of the most famous viewpoints right around the village area.
Bright Angel trailhead is about the furthest West you can get without using the shuttle or a car. Yavapai Point is a wonderful sunrise and sunset location in addition to being very easy to access. Mather Point is an incredibly popular sunrise view and sits on the Eastern side of Grand Canyon village.
Walking distance between Bright Angel and Mather Point is just 2.6 miles. The Rim trail here is accessibility friendly and flat but it can become extremely busy because it offers some of the most dramatic canyon views. Hence the reason the village was built here.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the best views in Grand Canyon village continuing from West to East.
10. Bright Angel Trailhead
Bright Angel trailhead isn’t exactly a viewpoint as such, but it has one of the Grand Canyon South Rim’s most stunning views. There’s a reason they built Bright Angel Lodge right on the edge of a cliff here!
The best part of this view is that it looks straight down through an aesthetically pleasing ravine, with the very obvious Bright Angel hiking trail cutting right through the middle.
You do have to walk a few steps down the trail to get a front-on view like in the photo above but it isn’t far. We took this photo right at the end of our mammoth day hike at around 5pm just as some streaky dark clouds were drawing in.
You can easily reach Bright Angel Trailhead by parking nearby, walking the Rim trail or from anywhere else in Grand Canyon village by taking the Blue village route shuttle bus.
Next to the trailhead you can find Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, 3 of the park’s lodges, Hopi House, the train depot and Verkamp’s visitor center.
Next stop: Yavapai Point – Distance 1.9 miles.
11. Yavapai Point
Yavapai Point is one of the best and most popular viewpoints on the entire South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Because it has fantastic views both West and East. Plus, it has all of the rock formations, types and layers on display, which is why they built a Geology Museum right on the edge of the canyon.
Just look at the dramatic tears in the Earth in our photo above. We took this right after sunrise in October with light beams exploding out from behind thick clouds.
The actual viewing area is railed and small, but you can explore and learn at the Geology Museum nearby, or you can walk slightly East to an amphitheater style seating area to enjoy either sunrise or sunset.
Yavapai Point will be busy at dawn, during the day and at sunset. It is very easy to access with a parking lot specifically for this viewpoint.
It is located about half way between the village and the main visitor center close to Mather Point. If you’re short on time in the park, you can’t afford to miss Yavapai Point.
Next stop: Mather Point – Distance 0.7 miles.
12. Mather Point
Mather Point is the most heavily trafficked viewpoint you will find in Grand Canyon National Park. It is the easiest and first overlook you will reach when entering the park and it has the best sunrise view at South Rim.
You will find a huge parking lot and the main visitor center as arrive into South Rim. Right behind you will see a large railed viewing area which extends out slightly into the canyon, that is Mather Point.
If you plan to visit Mather Point to catch a sunrise you should expect it to be extremely busy. We highly recommend you head East along the Rim and find a small intimate space with no others around if you’re looking for a romantic or serene sunrise.
We took the photo above from one such small outcrop on a cold October morning and it was one of the best sunrises we had ever seen. In part because we were lucky with clouds and colors but mainly because it was all happening over such an iconic and spectacular landscape.
If you only have time to visit one viewpoint at the Grand Canyon, it is likely going to be Mather Point. If you can, make it sunrise!
Next stop: Yaki Point – Distance 3 miles.
Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints On Desert View Drive
Desert View Drive is one of two major roads used to access Grand Canyon village.
This road leads East from Grand Canyon South Rim’s major amenities and touristy village area, as far as the East Entrance Station and UT-89.
- Distance: It is a total of 22 miles from Grand Canyon visitor center to Desert View furthest East.
- Important: You can drive your own vehicle along this road to each viewpoint year round, with the exception of Yaki Point which we explain below.
Are you planning to visit Page for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley or Grand Canyon North Rim?
You will enter or exit Grand Canyon via Desert View Drive. And that means you’ll be able to visit each of these viewpoints on your way in or out without having to drive back on yourself.
But even if you’re just visiting Grand Canyon South Rim, you should plan to see all of the awesome viewpoints East of the village. It will mean driving back on yourself for a total roundtrip of 44 miles but it is certainly worth it.
Expect parking at viewpoints to be challenging in peak season and remember, visiting Grand Canyon in Winter will give you a much more relaxing experience.
Let’s take a look at the best Grand Canyon South Rim views along Desert View Drive, as we continue heading from West to East.
13. Yaki Point
Yaki Point is both an excellent but also frustrating viewpoint. The important part is that views to the West and East are fantastic, which means sunrise and sunset would both be wonderful to see from here.
However, it is a pain to reach Yaki Point:
- Good news – Yaki Point is quieter than most other points despite having amazing views.
- Bad news – You have to take the Orange Kaibab shuttle or walk 1 mile from Desert View Drive.
We haven’t actually been to Yaki Point ourselves but we did take the orange Kaibab shuttle half way down the same road on which Yaki Point is the end. Instead we got off at South Kaibab trailhead and began our day hike.
The photo above is of us hiking South Kaibab Trail directly in line with where Yaki Point looks into the canyon, so it is a true reflection of the view, but you would be standing at a higher elevation if you were at the viewpoint.
On the way to Yaki Point, you can park your car at Pipe Creek Vista, which is another amazing viewpoint overlooking South Kaibab trail. It is similar to the view from Bright Angel Trailhead.
Hikers: If you plan to day hike South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail, you will start here very early and end back at Bright Angel Trailhead in the village.
Next stop: Grandview Point – Distance 9 miles.
14. Grandview Point
Grandview Point is the first viewpoint from which you will see the Colorado River snaking through Grand Canyon when heading East out of the village.
First we have to mention there are two more optional stops you can make on the way here:
- Shoshone Point – Stunning views but you have to hike 1 mile out and 1 mile back to Desert View Road to reach it.
- Duck on a Rock Viewpoint – Huge balancing rock shaped at the top like a duck.
Back to Grandview Point and what a grand view it is, especially to the East. Sunrise would be awesome here if you wanted the sun to create a starburst effect.
This viewpoint was jam packed when we visited around lunch time in October, so in order to get no other people in the shot we had to look West and use a wall in the foreground for a nice bokeh effect.
East is the best view but it is a popular stop and you will have to contend for selfie space!
There are more parking spaces here than at most other viewpoints along Desert View Drive. But many of those are for overnight hikers who have taken on the very steep but historic Grandview Trail.
Next stop: Moran Point – Distance 6.7 miles.
15. Moran Point
Moran Point is another popular stop thanks to the pizza slice or Christmas Tree shaped rock you see in the foreground above.
This is a photographers favorite and wedding shoots are frequent here. Views are far reaching to the East and West as the canyon opens up more and more. Plus, the huge sandy rock serves as an excellent background for portraits.
You can see the Colorado River a little more clearly as it winds through the canyon below. Rock formations are beginning to become less sharp and dramatic as you leave the inner canyon. Notice the smoother looking domes in the canyon below?
Parking is limited but should only be a problem if you visit in peak season between mid morning and mid afternoon.
Next stop: Lipan Point – Distance 5.8 miles.
16. Lipan Point
Lipan Point is one of our personal favorite viewpoints on the East section of Grand Canyon South Rim. It has the most extensive views looking to the West and a beautiful narrow butte protruding far out into the canyon.
Sunrise would be awesome from here if looking to the West to watch the canyon formations glow. It is such a wide open view and you can see the Colorado River. Sunset and even astrophotography are popular here too.
We took a telephoto shot here to make the North Rim and rock formations appear closer than they are in reality. The long ridge bursting in from the bottom right is exceptionally photogenic at dawn and dusk.
Parking is again limited, but you should be fine except for peak seasons and times.
Next stop: Navajo Point – Distance 1.7 miles.
Navajo Point is the highest elevation viewpoint along Grand Canyon South Rim at 7,461 ft.
It may appear as a non event being sandwiched between Lipan Point and Desert View which we will cover next) but it is a wonderful spot of its own.
This is the point along South Rim where you can clearly see the canyon bend away on a Northward trajectory. So, you get great views directly up the Colorado River to the North.
Remember the awesome ridge from Lipan Point? Well you can look right down the barrel of it from Navajo Point.
But the best part of this viewpoint is the enormous canyon wall to the right, which radiates at sunset and Desert View Watchtower is your cherry on the top.
Look at how hazy the sky is in our photo above. That hazy weather system we mentioned earlier made its way across to South Rim. It can happen and it will mean views are impacted.
Parking is even more limited here and there are no spaces, you just have to park behind other cars on the roadside.
Next stop: Desert View – Distance 1 mile.
18. Desert View
Desert View is the furthest viewpoint to the East of Grand Canyon South Rim. So it’s either your first or final view of Grand Canyon if entering or leaving from here.
The first thing you will notice is a much larger parking lot, including a designated area for RV parking. You will then find restrooms, a market deli, trading post, canteen style cafeteria, campground and gas station.
Next up you will see an ornate looking cylindrical stone watchtower. Hopefully it is open for your visit and you can take a winding staircase to the top.
The views are great from the top of Desert View Watchtower but the interior is far more interesting. We won’t give anything away but make sure you take your camera inside.
The best canyon view from here is to the North (right side) as you can clearly see the Colorado River snaking through the softer looking rock formations.
Best Viewpoints From Inside Grand Canyon
No list of the best views at Grand Canyon would be complete without mentioning viewpoints from inside the canyon.
Yes, the Rim views are more sweeping and jaw-dropping, but descending into the mighty canyon gives you an entirely different perspective.
We day hiked down South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch along the Colorado River and back up Bright Angel on a gorgeous day in December. It is one of the most insanely scenic day hikes you will ever do.
The canyon looks enormous, deep and dramatic from the Rim. But you should see it from way down inside the canyon, wow!
Hiking down and back up allows you to get up close and personal with buttes, narrow gorges, walls and even dense pockets of vegetation (who knew?!).
Looking up from the Colorado River your thoughts change to intimidating, brutal and harsh. But you will be left in awe by this remarkable and unique landscape.
19. Hiking Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trails
Are you visiting the Grand Canyon for both viewpoints and hiking? If the answer is yes, you are going to open a whole new chapter on amazing views. Here are the best hiking trails at Grand Canyon South Rim.
We won’t cover all of our favorite viewpoints from both Bright Angel and South Kaibab. There would be too many! The beauty of hiking for views is that you will escape the crowds.
Our photo above is one from Skeleton Point, which is 3 miles down South Kaibab trail and you can already see the canyon walls towering up behind.
Hiking is the best way to really ‘see’ the Grand Canyon. We were constantly blown away when we turned a corner and saw a section of the trail zig-zagging down an enormous face.
Even if you just make it to Ooh Aah Point 1.5 miles down South Kaibab trail, this is a stunning viewpoint. If you can make it down for sunrise, you will have a completely different experience compared to the Rim views.
20. Phantom Ranch and Colorado River
For an entirely alternate perspective of Grand Canyon South Rim, why not find a magnificent viewpoint at 2,500 ft looking up at the Rim?!
If we’re talking about best viewpoints, it doesn’t get much better than this one. It is a scary sight, looking up 4,500 ft at a ledge and thinking “I have to hike up there!’.
What we never realized was how pretty it would be down at Phantom Ranch with golden leaves on trees and shallow streams trickling through the encampment.
Crossing the Colorado River by both Black Ridge and Bright Angel Trail Bridge were some of our favorite parts of the entire hike. Our photos are amazing.
The river area is extremely photogenic and you’re getting views that only a handful of visitors are being exposed to each day. Just something to consider for your visit.
Best Viewpoints For Sunrise and Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim
Are you staying a few days and can’t wait to get out with your camera? Well, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes top sunrises and sunsets. Grand Canyon is one of the best USA national parks for photography, especially at dawn and dusk.
Before heading out we recommend you check live weather and road conditions to make sure you will be able to get out for sunrise and sunset without issue.
Every photographer will have their own preferences here, but here are our favorite Grand Canyon viewpoints for sunrise and sunset:
Best South Rim Sunrise Viewpoints at Grand Canyon
- Mather Point – Cliche and over saturated but still an amazing spot. Move East around the Rim if you want some room.
- Yavapai Point – Another of the most popular but for good reason, sunrise is amazing and it is easy to access.
- Yaki Point – Much harder to get to but stunning views both East and West, far less crowded.
- Lipan Point – We really like the canyon burning under sunrise from this far East.
Best South Rim Sunset Viewpoints at Grand Canyon
- Hopi Point – Again it is cliche because everyone knows about it, but it is a wonderful vantage point for sunset.
- Powell Point – Very close to Hopi, but this time you’re looking into the canyon with no direct line of view to the sun and it is much quieter.
- Yavapai Point – Very popular at sunset and easy to access, you won’t see the sun but this is a great spot to watch the canyon glowing.
- Navajo Point – For something completely different, why not head to the far East of South Rim and see the entire canyon ahead illuminating.
Exploring the best viewpoints at Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the best things to do in Arizona, so make sure you take home hundreds of photos to remember your experience!
Need Help Planning A Trip To Grand Canyon South Rim?
Grand Canyon is one of the most visited National Parks in the US and it’s a stunning landscape that will genuinely blow you away.
But we also know how important it is to get your trip off to the best possible start by planning in advance.
We have been lucky enough to visit Grand Canyon South Rim twice, at different times of year and with different goals:
- First to sightsee, shoot sunrises and sunsets and see the canyon from every single viewpoint on the Rim.
- Second to day hike Rim to River, South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch to Bright Angel in one day.
If you are planning a trip to Grand Canyon South Rim and want to know:
- Where to stay and eat
- How to get there and use the shuttles
- The best hikes in the area
- Which overlooks to visit
- Where to watch sunrise and sunset
Our 30+ page Grand Canyon South Rim Guidebook with 4 example itineraries will tell you all this information plus more so you can plan the perfect trip to Grand Canyon South Rim National Park.
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- Winter – 10 tips for visiting the Grand Canyon in winter
- Season – Best time to visit Grand Canyon South Rim
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Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona Travel Guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.
We hope this guide to the best viewpoints helps you plan your visit to Grand Canyon National Park!
Please let us know if you have any questions about the Grand Canyon Viewpoints in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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