Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim For The First Time



Grand Canyon South Rim One Day Two Days Itinerary Things To Do by Where Are Those Morgans spectacular view over the deep canyon with colorful sandstone and blue sky above

There are many things you need to consider when planning a first visit to Grand Canyon South Rim including fees, entrances, hikes, photo spots, activities and itinerary ideas. South Rim is the best area to visit in Grand Canyon National Park and it’s open year round. Admission costs between $20 and $35, and can only be paid with a debit or credit card.

In this first time visitor travel guide, we explain everything you need to know about visiting Grand Canyon South Rim.

Our Grand Canyon Experience

Where Are Those Morgans at Hopi Point during a spectacular sunset on Hopi Point
Mark and Kristen enjoying a serene sunset from Hopi Point

Over the course of two separate visits to South Rim we’ve hiked rim-to-river on both Bright Angel and South Kaibab, seen the canyon from all major viewpoints along Hermit’s Rest and Desert View Drive, photographed sunrises and sunsets, and stayed at one park lodge and at hotels in every nearby town.

Our first visit was a 3 day trip in October 2019 and we returned for another 3 days in December 2021. We’ve experienced sun, rain and snow in the canyon, so we know a thing or two about what it’s really like to visit South Rim!

After years of non-stop traveling around the world, we can honestly count the amount of genuine jaw-dropping moments we’ve had on two hands. The first time we saw the Grand Canyon was one of those rare moments.

South Rim Information

  • National Park: Grand Canyon
  • State: Arizona
  • Address: S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
  • Telephone: (928) 638-7888
  • Campgrounds: Desert View, Trailer Village, Mather
  • Area: 1,218,375 acres
  • Things to do: Hiking, photography, rafting, backpacking
  • Major trails: Bright Angel, South Kaibab
  • Open: All year
  • Annual visitors: ~ 4.7 million (2022)

Grand Canyon Fees

Stunning sun beams bursting into grand canyon south rim at sunrise on south kaibab trail amazing photography
Sunrise bursting into the Grand Canyon from South Kaibab Trail

You must pay to enter Grand Canyon North and South Rim. Here’s how much it will cost you:

  • Vehicle: $35 – up to 15 passengers in one vehicle for 7 consecutive days
  • Motorcycle: $30 – one motorcycle, driver and passenger for 7 consecutive days
  • Individual: $20 – entering by foot, bicycle, park shuttle or private rafting trip

Important – Cash is not accepted at Grand Canyon South Rim entrance stations. You must pay with a credit or debit card. One entrance fee is good for both South Rim and North Rim within 7 days.

Travel Tip: Planning to visit more than 3 or 4 National Parks in the next year? You can save money with an annual US national parks pass called America the Beautiful Pass.

South Rim Entrances

Entrance fee and parking at Grand Canyon south rim kristen holding NPS map inside car
Kristen holding our South Rim pocket map

Grand Canyon South Rim has two entrance stations:

  • Main entrance
  • East entrance

Main entrance is located 5 miles to the south of Grand Canyon Visitor Center. This entrance is accessed by I-40 and AZ-64 from places like Las Vegas, Phoenix and Sedona.

East entrance is located 22.5 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Visitor Center. This entrance is accessed by Desert View Drive from places like Page, Kanab, Moab, Zion and Grand Canyon North Rim.

Are you thinking about visiting North Rim? It’s 200 miles to drive between South and North Rim, which takes around 4 hours 30 minutes.

Driving Distances To South Rim

Let’s take a quick look at distances and drive times from nearby attractions and cities you might also be visiting on the same trip.

Main Entrance:

  • Sedona – 111 miles (2h 00m)
  • Petrified Forest NP – 200 miles (3h 00m)
  • Las Vegas – 280 miles (4h 15m)

East Entrance:

  • Page – 109 miles (1h 45m)
  • Moab (Arches) – 320 miles (6h 00m)
  • Zion – 336 miles (5h 50m)

Travel Tip: Between March and November you must use a shuttle bus to access Hermit Road viewpoints along the South Rim. But you can drive your own vehicle up Hermit Road in December, January and February.

Closest Airports

Next, let’s take a quick look at the closest airports to Grand Canyon South Rim:

  • Flagstaff Pulliam – 90 miles (1h 30m)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor – 232 miles (3h 30m)
  • Las Vegas Harry Reid – 278 miles (4h 15m)

Las Vegas is the most commonly used airport for visiting Grand Canyon because it’s the best transport hub for driving a loop including the likes of Zion, Bryce Canyon and Antelope Canyon. You’re likely to find more flight options and lower prices if you use Las Vegas airport.

However, you should look at prices for flying into either Flagstaff or Phoenix if you’d rather visit Sedona in the same trip as Grand Canyon South Rim.

We always compare prices for hire cars with Rental Cars and Discover Cars to see which offers the best deals.

Further Reading: 5 closest airports to Grand Canyon South Rim

Best Grand Canyon South Rim Hikes

Hiker in shorts and long sleeved shirt holding a camera and hot chocolate at Phantom Ranch in the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a sunny day
Mark drinking a hot chocolate at Phantom Ranch half way through the Rim-to-River hike

The Grand Canyon is a magnificent landscape to gaze upon from the rim, but hiking into the canyon is a once in a lifetime experience we think every visitor should consider.

Even if you’re not a strong or confident hiker, you can still easily walk a short way down one of the two major trails called Bright Angel and South Kaibab to appreciate the vastness of the canyon from an entirely new perspective.

The strongest hikers can spend one full day hiking the amazing rim to river trail from South Kaibab to Bright Angel via Phantom Ranch. We took on this legendary trail in December 2021 and it’s one of our favorite hikes to date.

Caution: Do not hike far down into the canyon between May and September when temperatures are too extreme for hiking. There are many fatalities each year caused by heat exhaustion.

Here are the South Rim trails you should consider hiking:


  • South Rim Trail
  • Shoshone Point Trail
  • South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Ahh Point


  • South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point
  • Bright Angel Trail to 3 Mile Resthouse

Very Hard

  • Rim to River (South Kaibab, Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel)
  • Rim to Rim (South to North with bus back)

Further Reading: 17 amazing Grand Canyon South Rim hikes

Best South Rim Photo Spots

Photographer in winter coat with camera and tripod taking photos of the Grand Canyon at sunset
Mark taking photos of sunset at Hopi Point in December

Not everyone will hike at the Grand Canyon, but it’s safe to say that everyone will take home plenty of photos from the various amazing viewpoints along South Rim. From our experience, we can tell you that views into the Grand Canyon never get old. Each vantage point offers a new perspective.

Gaping ravines and unique rock formations are common around the US southwest national park circuit, but you haven’t seen anything quite like the Grand Canyon before. The scale, depth and remoteness of this grandest of Grand Canyons is immense.

Here are the viewpoints you should prioritize:

  • Mather Point (sunrise)
  • Hopi Point (sunset)
  • Mohave Point
  • Grandview Point
  • Moran Point
  • Desert View Watchtower

Further Reading: Best Grand Canyon viewpoints

Best Things To Do At Grand Canyon South Rim

Photographer hiking down into the Grand Canyon during sunrise on a cold day in December
Kristen hiking down South Kaibab Trail just after sunrise

So what are the most unmissable things to do when you visit South Rim?

Here are the three things you should prioritize:

  • Hiking
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Photography

It sounds obvious, but these simple and free activities are exactly what you should focus on with just one or two days at Grand Canyon South Rim.

Later in the guide we’ll take a quick look at other things you can do with more time. But for now, let’s take a deep dive into the top 8 things we think should be on every first time Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary.

Need help planning your trip to Grand Canyon?

Our popular Grand Canyon travel guidebook helps you with planning every aspect of your visit to South Rim, including the best viewpoints and hikes, where to eat and stay, itinerary ideas and map!

View Guidebook
Where Are Those Morgans Grand Canyon travel guidebook

1. Watch Sunrise At Mather Point

Incredibly beautiful sunrise at mather point grand canyon south rim streaking colors in clouds with canyon glowing purple at dawn
The stunning sunrise we watched near Mather Point

Sunrise is the most magical time of the day at Grand Canyon National Park. It’s peaceful, calm and spectacularly colorful if you get lucky with the clouds. Mather Point is the most popular place to watch the sunrise over South Rim because it’s easy to access and has stunning east facing views.

We watched a wonderful sunrise from the famous Mather Point vista but it was busy, so the next morning we walked a few minutes east around the rim and found a secluded rocky outcrop which we had to ourselves. It’s one of our favorite places in the world to see the sun rising at dawn.

Further Reading: Best Grand Canyon South Rim sunrise and sunset spots

2. Hike South Kaibab Trail

Ooh Aah point is the first major checkpoint on South Kaibab hiking trail from Grand Canyon South Rim continue further to Cedar Ridge or turn back here on a day trip
Ooh Ahh Point is the first major stopping point on South Kaibab Trail

South Kaibab Trail is the steeper, shorter and more direct of the 2 famous hikes into Grand Canyon South Rim. The views are extraordinary as you descend into the canyon on South Kaibab no matter how far you go down.

Here are the 5 natural South Kaibab turnaround points on the way to the canyon floor with roundtrip hiking distances:

  • Ooh Ahh Point – 1.8 miles
  • Cedar Ridge – 3 miles
  • Skeleton Point – 6 miles
  • The Tipoff – 9 miles
  • Phantom Ranch – 14.6 miles

It’s well worth hiking down as far as Ooh Ahh Point even if you only have one day at Grand Canyon South Rim. The vista is easy to reach and the trail itself is fun to hike.

Continue further if you have plenty of time, you’re a strong hiker and it’s not too hot. There’s no potable water on South Kaibab Trail so you need to take plenty of water in your backpack, especially on hotter days.

Further Reading: How to hike South Kaibab Trail

3. Hike Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel hiking trail from the trailhead incredible view on a cloudy afternoon in arizona
The view into Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Trailhead

Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail to day hike into the Grand Canyon because it’s closer to the visitor center, easier to access and less steep than South Kaibab. The views are remarkable and the further you go, the more the terrain changes.

Here are the 5 natural Bright Angel turnaround points on the way to the canyon floor with roundtrip hiking distances:

  • 1.5 mile resthouse – 3 miles
  • 3 mile resthouse – 6 miles
  • Indian Garden – 9 miles
  • River Resthouse – 15.6 miles
  • Phantom Ranch – 19.6 miles

In our opinion, South Kaibab has slightly better views than Bright Angel. This is especially true if you only plan to hike a few miles in and out of the canyon. It’s still an amazing trail, but we think Bright Angel is best from Indian Garden down to the Colorado River.

However, you’ll be able to fill water bottles with clean water at each stop on Bright Angel Trail, which makes it a safer choice on hotter days. And because the gradient is more gradual, Bright Angel might suit beginner hikers better.

Further Reading: How to hike Bright Angel Trail

4. Go To Desert View Watchtower

Stunning views from Desert View Watchtower in Arizona
View over the canyon and Colorado River from Desert View Watchtower

Desert View Watchtower is a 70-ft tall cylindrical stone structure constructed at the easternmost point of the national park boundary along South Rim. It was designed by architect Mary Colter and built in 1932 using locally sourced rocks.

You’ll find informative exhibits, indigenous murals and a 360 degree view room inside the watchtower. In the view room you can look through reflectoscopes to see the Grand Canyon from a new perspective.

Both times we went to Desert View Watchtower we grabbed a quick lunch at the canteen style restaurant, before enjoying superb north facing views overlooking the Colorado River from the tower.

5. Stop At The Viewpoints On Desert View Drive

Kristen looking out into incredible landscapes in Arizona
Kristen at one of the many amazing canyon viewpoints along Desert View Drive

Half of the best Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoints are found along Desert View Drive. This is the portion of South Rim that doesn’t make use of the shuttle, so you must drive your own vehicle.

The easiest way to stop at the viewpoints is on the way back to Grand Canyon Village from Desert View Watchtower because the viewpoints will all be on your side of the road.

Here are the best viewpoints on Desert View Drive:

  • Navajo Point
  • Lipan Point
  • Moran Point
  • Grandview Point
  • Shoshone Point (short hike)

It’s important to know that you can’t drive to Yaki Point. You’ll either have to hike 1 mile from a roadside parking area on Desert View Drive or you’ll need to take the orange Kaibab shuttle to reach the viewpoint.

One thing to be aware of is deep and far reaching shadows casting across the inner canyon during the morning and late afternoon. Midday is the best time for photography along Desert View Drive because the sun is highest in the sky.

6. Take The Shuttle To Hermits Rest

Hermit's Rest arched stones and bell in Arizona
Ring the bell at Hermits Rest

Hermits Rest is at the end of Hermit Road, which is the western half of Grand Canyon South Rim that can only be accessed by shuttle bus between March and November. Remember, you can drive to Hermits Rest in the winter months.

You’ll find a historic stone structure that served as a resting place between Grand Canyon Village and the Hermit Trail, which is where many backcountry hiking trails begin on the west side of South Rim.

On site there’s a gift shop, a coffee and snack bar, a huge fireplace and the westernmost views you can see into Grand Canyon. We bought hot chocolates at Hermits Rest and walked the Rim Trail all the way to Hopi Point during our first visit to South Rim.

Travel Tip: Hermits Rest is accessed by the red shuttle line which begins and ends near Bright Angel Trailhead. Parking is limited, so your best bet is to park at the visitor center and walk the rim trail or take the blue shuttle to Hermits Rest Route Transfer.

7. Walk South Rim Trail From The Abyss To Hopi Point

Just before sunset at Mohave Point Grand Canyon South Rim gorgeous yellow hue and deep dark shadows cast in the canyon epic one day itinerary
Late afternoon sunlight casting shadows into the canyon

The flat and paved Grand Canyon South Rim Trail stretches 13 miles from Hermits Rest to South Kaibab Trailhead. Hiking the whole thing would take a long time, but you don’t have to hike the entire trail. The beauty of the Rim Trail is that you can hike smaller sections and then hop on a shuttle bus.

We highly recommend the 2 hour hike from Hermits Rest to Hopi Point. But if you’re short on time or you don’t want to hike for so long, take the shuttle from Hermits Rest and get off at The Abyss. From here you can walk to Mohave Point and Hopi Point, which will only take you 1 hour.

You can’t walk between viewpoints on the eastern side of South Rim, so this is your chance to really soak up the best views into Grand Canyon. Walking portions of the Rim Trail is something we will do on every single visit to South Rim.

Travel Tip: A few hours before sunset is the best time of day to hike South Rim Trail between Hermits Rest and Hopi Point. You want to arrive at Hopi Point not long before the sun sets.

8. Watch Sunset At Hopi Point

Hopi Point sunset grand canyon south rim spectacular canyon view with orange and yellow sky pink rocks beautiful place to watch the sun setting
The awesome sunset view at Hopi Point

You can watch the sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim from various awesome viewpoints, but Hopi Point is the most popular and we personally think it’s the overall best spot. The problem is that most others agree and that means Hopi Point is heavily crowded each evening.

What sets Hopi Point apart is that you get dramatic canyon views, jagged rock formations, a clear view of the sunset and you can just about see the Colorado River. This is the time to pull out a handy bottle of wine, sit back and enjoy what has to be one of the most iconic sunset spots in the world.

We’ve watched the sunset from Hopi Point twice. Both were stunning spectacles, but there was a noticeable difference in crowds between October and December. Our advice is to find a secluded spot a few minutes walk to the south of Hopi Point, not at the actual point itself.

Things To Do With More Time

Mather Point at sunrise is busy with tourists who can't miss an epic sunrise
Crowds at Mather Point before sunrise

What else can you do if you’ve got 3 or 4 days at South Rim, you want a unique experience or you’re not keen on hiking?

Here are more activities you can consider:

  • Helicopter Tour – One of the most unique ways to see the Grand Canyon is to take a helicopter tour. This top rated tour flies over South Rim and North Rim.
  • Rafting – You can book various rafting tours on the Colorado River. Each tour is different so shop around.
  • Mule Ride – You can book various mule riding tours along the rim or down into the canyon.
  • Rim to Rim – If you’re a very strong hiker and you have plenty of time, you might want to consider hiking the challenging Rim to Rim Trail.
  • Havasu Falls – You can win a permit to hike and stay at the base of Havasu Falls but it’s a long way from Grand Canyon Village.
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk – This is also a long way out, it’s the West Rim (not South Rim), you can’t take photos and it’s really expensive. Personally, we don’t think the Skywalk is worth it.

Now, let’s take a look at itineraries!

Grand Canyon South Rim One Day Itinerary

Infographic showing the best way to spend a one day itinerary at Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona
Save our one day Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary infographic

One day might not sound like a lot of time to see one of the most popular US national parks, but trust us, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to see the highlights of Grand Canyon South Rim.

Here’s how to spend an action packed day at South Rim:

  • 5:00am-7:30am – Watch sunrise from the rim near Mather Point (depending on sunrise time).
  • 8:00am-9:30am – Hike South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Ahh Point and back.
  • 10:00am-11.30am – Hike Bright Angel Trail to 1.5 mile resthouse and back.
  • 12:00pm-12:30pm – Drive to Desert View Watchtower without stopping.
  • 12:30pm-1:00pm – Lunch at Desert View.
  • 1:00pm-2:30pm – Stop at the viewpoints along Desert View Drive.
  • 3:00pm-3:30pm – Shuttle to Hermits Rest.
  • 3:30pm-5:00pm – Walk sections of South Rim Trail to Hopi Point.
  • 5:00pm-8:00pm – Watch sunset from Hopi Point (depending on sunset time).

This itinerary is packed full from start to finish but there’s several ways you could adapt it to suit your goals.

For instance, you could cut one of the hikes to instead spend an hour looking through Yavapai Point Museum of Geology and enjoying the expansive views from Yavapai Point. Or you could even watch the sunrise from Ooh Ahh Point on South Kaibab Trail which would free up more time during the day.

One Day Itinerary Map

Here’s a map showing our one day Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary.

Click or touch the map to activate. Follow the stops in the exact order listed for the most efficient Grand Canyon South Rim day trip.

Grand Canyon South Rim Two Days Itinerary

pink sunrise over south kaibab trail in december at grand canyon south rim
Gorgeous pink hues in the sky before sunrise

Are you planning to spend a night near Grand Canyon South Rim?

Let’s walk through an example of how you could spend two action packed days at Grand Canyon South Rim if you want to see and do as much as possible.

It’s important to note that our day 2 is the full Rim-to-River hike. Only attempt this if you are a very strong hiker. You can adapt this day by hiking as far as you feel comfortable down South Kaibab Trail before returning to the rim.

Travel Tip: Keep a close eye on the weather so you know which will be the better day for hiking and the better day for photography.

Two Days South Rim Itinerary – Day 1

  • 5:00am-7:30am – Watch sunrise from Mather Point or Yavapai Point.
  • 8:00am-9:00am – Grab breakfast and a coffee at Bright Angel Cafe.
  • 9:00am-10.00am – Drive to Desert View Watchtower without stopping.
  • 10:00pm-12:30pm – Stop at the viewpoints along Desert View Drive.
  • 12:30pm-1:30pm – Lunch at Yavapai Lodge.
  • 1:30pm-2:00pm – Shuttle to Hermits Rest.
  • 2:00pm-5:00pm – Walk South Rim Trail to Hopi Point.
  • 5:00pm-8:00pm – Watch sunset from Hopi Point (depending on sunset time).

Two Days South Rim Itinerary – Day 2

  • 7:00am – Hop on the earliest hikers express shuttle (varies by month 4:00am-8:00am).
  • 7:15am – Begin hiking down South Kaibab Trail.
  • 7.30am – Reach Ooh Ahh Point as the sun is rising.
  • 8:00am – Arrive at Cedar Ridge.
  • 8:45am – Reach Skeleton Point.
  • 9:30am – Make it to The Tipoff.
  • 10:30am – Cross Black Bridge over the Colorado River.
  • 10:45am – Walk into Phantom Ranch and have lunch.
  • 11:30am – Cross Bright Angel Bridge.
  • 12:00pm – Pass by River Resthouse and begin the ascent.
  • 1:30pm – Make it to Indian Garden.
  • 2:30pm – Reach 3 Mile Resthouse.
  • 3:15pm – Arrive at 1.5 Mile Resthouse.
  • 4:00pm – Summit back at Bright Angel Trailhead.

This itinerary follows exactly how we hiked Rim-to-River during our visit to Grand Canyon South Rim in December. The weather was cool and clear, conditions were perfect and we were in good shape. Even so, we still found it to be a challenging hike.

Two Days Itinerary Map

Here’s a map showing our two days Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary.

Click or touch the map to activate. Follow the stops in the exact order listed for the most efficient way to spend 2 days at Grand Canyon South Rim.

Best Time To Visit Grand Canyon South Rim

Couple standing together on a rocky outcrop in winter coats with a misty haze behind
Mark and Kristen enjoying a snow day at South Rim in December

Early spring and late fall are the best times of year to visit Grand Canyon South Rim because they have the perfect blend of comfortable hiking conditions, fewer crowds and cheaper hotel rooms with more availability.

The Grand Canyon is hot, busy and expensive in summer months. Despite it being cold, the Grand Canyon in winter is very quiet and cheap which makes it another great time to visit.

We’ve been to South Rim in October and December. In October the weather was warm but it was busy. In December we had one cool day perfect for hiking to the river and the next day we had a snowstorm which was an unexpected surprise.

Further Reading: Best time to visit Grand Canyon by month

Where To Eat

Soup and sandwich perfect lunch near Desert View Watchtower Arizona
Mark’s soup and grilled cheese at Desert View snack bar

After two visits to South Rim we can tell you that restaurant selection and quality is surprisingly lacking. And that’s not just our opinion, it’s what you’ll find if you look at reviews on Google Maps.

Most of the park run lodges have a restaurant or bar with snacks on offer but they’re overpriced and not great. We actually preferred the lunch at Desert View snack bar (see the photo above).

The nearest town to South Rim is Tusayan. However, you won’t find any outstanding restaurants or highly rated eateries there either. It won’t matter too much if you’re only planning a one or two day trip, but any longer and you’ll be ready for a quality meal.

The good news is Williams and Flagstaff have plenty of excellent places to eat if you’re heading south after leaving the park. There’s also a few places to eat in Cameron if you head east instead.

Where To Stay Near Grand Canyon South Rim

Building with flags flying on a sunny day beneath a blue sky
Yavapai Lodge is one of several places to stay on South Rim

Hotel options at Grand Canyon South Rim are definitely more extensive than food options! You can stay at park run lodges within Grand Canyon Village or you can stay at hotels, motels and unique lodgings in one of the nearby towns.

The park lodges fill quickly in peak season, so book in advance as soon as you know your dates of travel. Alternatively, book a hotel in Tusayan, Valle or Williams because they’re typically cheaper.

So far we’ve stayed at Bright Angel Lodge on the rim, Best Western in Tusayan, Grand Canyon Inn in Valle and Best Western Plus in Williams. Each area has it’s pros and cons like price, convenience and quality of amenities.

Our guide to the best places to stay near Grand Canyon South Rim will help you choose which area to book. Or you can read our guide to the 10 best hotels near Grand Canyon South Rim on our sister site Best Hotels Anywhere for a closer look at the top rated lodging options.

Further Reading: How to book cheap hotels


Would you prefer to camp on the rim instead of paying for a hotel?

Here are the 3 Grand Canyon South Rim campgrounds (book well in advance):

Our Grand Canyon South Rim eBook

Want all of the information in this guide plus much more downloaded to your smartphone to use for planning and throughout your visit to South Rim?

Our popular 30+ page Grand Canyon South Rim eBook is filled with only the most important information you need, links to key resources and so much more. Plus, it’s ad-free. Enjoy!

In Conclusion

Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the most popular vacation spots in the US for domestic and international travelers. You can easily see the best scenic views in one day, but you should plan for at least a 2 day itinerary if you want to hike down into the canyon.

As hikers and travel photographers, it doesn’t get much better than Grand Canyon South Rim for us. The rim-to-river hike is one of our favorites and watching sunrises burst into the canyon never gets old. Grand Canyon South Rim is a place everyone should visit at least once!

More Grand Canyon

More US Southwest

Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona Travel Guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.

We hope our ultimate guide to visiting Grand Canyon South Rim helped you plan your trip to northern Arizona!

Please let us know if you have any questions or need help planning your visit in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

Enjoy This Grand Canyon South Rim Guide? Pin It For Your Visit!

Note: This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All Rights Reserved © Where Are Those Morgans, LLC. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, maps, graphics, etc.) in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.

8 thoughts on “Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim For The First Time”

  1. I am in need of help with a road trip from Springfield, Ohio. I am wanting to stop at Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce,Capital Reef, Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verda and maybe stop in Pueblo see our daughter then head back to Ohio. I have been stuggling with how much time in each place. We will just be doing the scenic things very little walking due to health issues. I was thinking 2 days at Grand canyon and 2 at Zion. I know it is a long haul there so I need advice from a pro please and thank you.

    • Hi Nikki, sounds like an amazing trip you’ve got planned. OK, so once you make it to Arizona after that long drive, you can do Petrified Forest easily in a few hours if you won’t be walking much. Grand Canyon you could do comfortably in 1.5 days with stops at the viewpoints on Desert View Drive and Hermit Road. Gives you chance to do a sunset and a sunrise if you’re interested. So those first 2 together with driving between could be 2 days. Not sure if you want to stop at Horseshoe Bend and/or Antelope Canyon in Page on the way to Zion? Zion is a hiking national park primarily, so if you won’t be hiking much, you can easily see it in a day. Go into the main Zion canyon to see the towering cliffs and walk alongside the Virgin River, and potentially drive to Kolob Canyons for an easy walk out to Timber Creek Overlook if you’re not too fed up with driving by this point! Bryce Canyon you can also do in half a day if you won’t be hiking into the amphitheater. There’s a scenic drive with lots of stops and that’s about it. Definitely drive UT-12 from Bryce to Capitol Reef, it’s very scenic. You’ll only need half a day at Capitol Reef. The best things to see and do in Arches are Devils Garden and Delicate Arch but they both are hikes. You can walk to Landscape Arch on Devils Garden easily enough but Delicate Arch is a steep climb. It’s amazing though if you can make it. We highly recommend Mesa Arch in Canyonlands, which is easy and well worth seeing (especially at sunrise). Without hikes, you can do both Arches and Canyonlands in a day. We haven’t been to Mesa Verde, but it looks like half a day to a full day is enough. The timeframes we’ve covered are minimum amounts of time. If you think you’ll need rest days in between driving, or days to just relax, be sure to add time into your itinerary. Springdale (Zion) and Moab (Arches, Canyonlands) are the two best towns you’ll stay at on the trip, with good hotels and quality restaurants, maybe factor that into your plans. Hope that helps and have a fantastic time!

  2. From a former resident of the South rim of Grand Canyon National Park (yes, there are people that actually live there year around. GCHS class of 2001). TONS of history about the Park and village, along with great look out points. Locals are friendly and willing to point you in the right direction in case you get lost.
    The best ice cream in the area is the creamery just outside the Bright Angel Lodge gift shop.
    As for food and entertainment i’d say get the chicken wings from the bar/game room at Best Western “Quility Inn” in nearby Tusayan.
    DEFINITELY go see the Grand Canyon movie at the Imax theater too

  3. Wow, you all did an awesome job with the Grand Canyon itinerary!! We just did it the end of February 2022. Couple of other tips for folks. Save your pennies, plan ahead and stay in the park. We did 2 nights at El Tovar. Very nice experience. Definitely worth it. And don’t forget to make reservations for dinner in the dining room one night. No reservation required for breakfast & lunch. After you check in, head out on the south rim trail. It has a ‘Trail of Time’ that is very interesting. Starts at El Tovar. About 3 miles round trip to the Geology museum and back. Lots of elk can be seen wandering on the tree side of the walk. The canyon is on the other side of the trail. So cool! We did your one day itinerary the next day. Sunrise was 1°F. But by the time we had breakfast and headed out for the South Kaibab it was warming up. Perfect hiking weather – 36°F – 46°F. Bring your YakTrax (crampons) you’ll need them. Especially on the Bright Angel trail that’s shaded. We did that the next morning. So, After a long day; sunrise, hiking, driving tours, we had a great meal in the El Tovar dining room. Food is very good and the staff is so kind & friendly. Then, we did Bright Angel before we headed out the next day for Sedona. Thank you so much for all the information and the Grand Canyon itinerary. It was outstanding!! I’ll be looking forward to more awesome travel ideas from you! Peace, Lisa

  4. The Grand canyon South rim looks fantastic, it seems to me you could spend a life time exploring the Grand canyon and still not see every nook and cranny, amazing views in every direction.

    • It is amazing, Graham. One of the only times we found ourselves stunned and speechless. Next time we visit, our plan is to hike to the bottom of the canyon, possibly on a photography tour, raft on the Colorado and soak up those awesome sunrises and sunsets. Hope you get to visit one day too!


Leave a Comment