15 Best Things to do in the Grand Canyon

15 Absolute Best Things to do in The Grand Canyon – South Rim Guide

Grand Canyon Attractions: Are you looking for the best things to do in the Grand Canyon to make the most of your time there?

Old Watch Tower at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon does not have to be overwhelming. Use this list to find the best things to do in the Grand Canyon for you and your family!

Thank you for supporting this website written by an American. This post may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission on these links at no extra cost to you.

National Park Entrance Fees 

To enter the National Parks, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee or have a National Parks Pass also known as American the Beautiful Pass.

It costs $80 for a yearly America the Beautiful Pass. This gives you access to all national parks and federal areas that charge fees. The America the Beautiful Pass is well worth it!

I purchased my first one in 2016 and it’s such a money-saver! Plus 10% of sale proceeds go to the National Park Foundation.

Tips for Renting a car for your road trip

It’s awfully hard to get to Canyonlands National Park without a car. The closest airport is Las Vegas and you can use  Discover Cars to rent a car for your travels. You’ll be able to pick up a car at any airport or in your hometown.

Check availability and get a quote for a rental car for your trip here.

15 Best Things to do in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon Village is the park’s most popular entrance point, and as a result, it frequently sees large crowds during peak seasons in the spring, summer, and fall. However, there’s a reason why the area is so appealing: Yavapai Point, one of the best vantage points for viewing the canyon, is located here. If you don’t want to camp but yet want to stay within the park, this is the place to go.

Arizona Travel Guide
Couple Enjoying the Beautiful Landscape of the Grand Canyon Sunset.

The busiest part of the Grand Canyon, as well as the place with the most lookouts, is Grand Canyon Village. The tourist center and Mather Point, Market Plaza, and the Historic District are the three main areas. The Village Shuttle Buses are the quickest and most convenient method to go about the village and the South Rim.

Guests can watch the 20-minute film Grand Canyon at the visitor center. Grand Canyon Village’s amenities, including gift stores, restaurants, marketplaces, and even abundant parking, are greatly appreciated by visitors. They also remarked on the area’s attractiveness and recommended that visitors take a sunrise tour of the village. The park’s best hotels, such as the El Tovar Hotel and the Bright Angel Lodge, are within walking distance of the village.

If you’re staying somewhere else, plan on spending at least half a day in the village. Visit the Grand Canyon Railway Depot, which welcomes passengers from the Grand Canyon Railway to the village. You’ll learn about how the railroad’s expansion affected tourism to the  Grand Canyon.

South Rim Viewpoints

The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is the most popular location, with easy access to the canyon, the majority of available amenities and services, and the panoramic vistas for which the natural wonder is known.

The South Rim is where tourists will discover the majority of the Grand Canyon’s most well-known activities, making it more popular among average travelers than the rocky North Rim. Grand Canyon Village, the South Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail, Mather Point, the Yavapai Geology Museum, and other attractions can be found on this side of the Grand Canyon. 

On foot, visitors can explore picturesque sections and hiking paths on the canyon’s south side, or take mule-guided tours. Mather Point and Desert View both provide campgrounds, as well as an RV park with grills, laundry facilities, and picnic tables.

The South Rim’s abundance of things to do and places to see has recently piqued the interest of visitors. Many viewpoint points and certain paths were feasible for families with young children, while visitors in wheelchairs were ecstatic at how much of this stretch of the canyon is accessible. 

You should be starting early in the day and take enough food and drink if you expect to do a lot of hiking at the South Rim because there is enough to keep you active all day. On this side of the park, however, there are a variety of restaurants, dining rooms, and coffee shops, so you won’t go hungry during your visit.

The South Rim is open all year. During the summer, the South Rim is served by many free shuttle buses.

Rim Trail – Visitors Centre to Village

A flat and easy 2.5-mile trail from the Visitors Centre to the Village. The path is paved and mostly flat, making it a great and easy trail to walk while visiting the park. This trail also passes by some beautiful viewpoints in the canyon that are definitely worth stopping by and having a look. 

grand canyon in one day Grand Canyon in May

Check out my post on the best hikes in the Grand Canyon which includes some easy hikes you can do in a few hours.

Take a Short Hike

If you’ve only got one day to visit the Grand Canyon, you probably want to squeeze in as much as you can, in order to have the full experience. because you have only got one day, a nice short hike is perfect. One of the best short hikes in the canyon is the nice and easy 1.7-mile round trip hike to Shoshone Point. The hike is along a dirt road that is almost entirely flat with only a small, almost unnoticeable incline. The end of the trail offers beautiful, panoramic views of the stunning canyons below.

Hermit Road

Hermit Road is a seven-mile picturesque road with various vistas along the canyon rim. This is the park’s most popular route.

Hermit’s Rest Grand Canyon in March

You can make this drive in your car if you visit between the beginning of December and the end of February. You must take the park shuttle buses, which run every 10 to 15 minutes and stop at nine overlooks, from March to November.

All of the sites along this path provide breathtaking views of the canyon. Maricopa Point, Hopi Point, The Abyss, and Pima Point offer some of the best vistas, even though they are the subject of some debate. If you’re pressed for time, you might want to skip Hermit’s Rest.

Hikers and cyclists love the Canyon Rim Trail because they can hike or cycle the full length of the road or parts of it with the help of shuttles. Hermit Road has nine different scenic viewing places, which is what makes it so special.

Mather Point

Mather Point, on the South Rim, is where many visitors first see the Grand Canyon. Travelers can take a 5-minute walk from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to the overlook, which offers spectacular views of the cliffs and trails below provided they don’t mind sorting through crowds. When the weather cooperates, visibility can reach 30 miles to the east and 60 miles to the west. Mather Point is also a favorite location for viewing the sunrise and sunset over the canyon.

This is the most popular Grand Canyon viewpoint because it is only a short walk up the trail before you reach the vistas of the canyon. However, be prepared to share this vista with a large crowd. Mather Point is also a good place to stop if you’re hiking the Rim Trail.

The spot has beautiful views and is close to bathrooms and a visitor center cafe. Although avoiding the crowds is tough, it is advisable to visit outside of the peak hours of sunrise and sunset to avoid the worst of it.

Although Mather Point does not have its parking lot, parking lots one through four at the visitor center are within walking distance. It also serves as a stop for the Kaibab/Rim (Orange) shuttle. Mather Point is wheelchair accessible and opens all year round. 

Bright Angel Trail

Biking the Grand Canyon’s network of South Rim trails is an environmentally friendly, distinctive, and economical way to explore the canyon.

Keep in mind that the Bright Angel Trail is just over 6 miles one way, and both recent visitors and travel experts agree that hiking to the river and back in one day is not a good idea. Plateau Point is located immediately west of the Bright Angel Lodge in Grand Canyon Village and offers spectacular views of the Colorado River. If you plan on hiking to Plateau Point, bring camping gear and plenty of water, as several rest spots along the trail only provide water during certain seasons.

Consider a mule ride down the Bright Angel Trail for a truly unique Grand Canyon experience. Riders are transported to Phantom Ranch for an overnight stay, with a stop at Indian Garden for lunch. While most trips are safe, those who aren’t used to being in the saddle for long periods may find the ride exhausting. Additional mule ride alternatives are available from Xanterra Travel Collection, with prices and durations varying.

Visitors can rent bikes and transport them back to Hermit Road on a rental/shuttle trip. A café and a store are also available, as well as two guided bike tours – Hermit Road Tour and Yaki Point Tour.

Desert View Drive

Arizona Highway 64, also known as Desert View Drive, goes between Grand Canyon Village and the town of Desert View on the Canyon’s eastern rim. Visitors approaching the Grand Canyon from the east will see the canyon for the first time during this picturesque route, which includes vistas of the Colorado River cutting across it.

While most people are drawn to Hermit Road, the 22-mile Desert View Drive is just as beautiful, if not more so. One of the most noticeable distinctions is the view of the Colorado River from some of the sites along this route, which is much more visible than on the route further west. White water rapids can be seen in the distance, as well as lengthy, wide portions of the river winding through the canyon.

Although there are fewer stations along this path, they are all worth stopping at to appreciate the views. Moran Point is a must-see, with a spectacular view of the Colorado River from the far east side of the parking lot and a rainbow of hues visible in the canyon’s granite walls. Mary Colton’s Watchtower is a must-see along the route, as is the Tusayan Ruin and Museum, which honors the ruins of an Ancestral Puebloan settlement.

A visitor station, bookstore, gift shop, general store, and seasonal campground are all available at the Watchtower. Six well-developed canyon overlooks, four picnic spots, and five unmarked pull outs are available.

South Kaibab Trail

The 7-mile South Kaibab Trail begins on the South Rim, just as the North Kaibab Trail does on the North Rim. The trailhead is located near Yaki Point, and visitors can climb the trail all the way down to the Colorado River. The National Park Service recommends going back up the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail instead because this trail has no drinking water and is relatively steep.

day trip to grand canyon Grand Canyon in November

The South Kaibab Trail, like the North Kaibab Trail, begins on the rim and ends at the Colorado River. It’s shorter and steeper than the Bright Angel Trail (which is 7 miles long and drops 4800 feet). It’s also more beautiful because the trail has more exposure, providing expansive, jaw-dropping views of the Grand Canyon.

Before trekking South Kaibab, you must plan. Bring at least two quarts of water, hiking poles, and snacks with you. As there is little shade on this walk, sunscreen and sunhats are also recommended. If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular canyon views, as well as the possibility of seeing wildlife such as sheep and birds.

The South Kaibab Trailhead is served by the Kaibab/Rim and Hikers Express shuttle bus lines, and mule rides are available.

Geological Museum

The Geological Museum is one of the most intriguing and instructive exhibitions in Grand Canyon National Park. In the 1920s, a group of prominent geologists chose this location for the museum because the views from here were the most emblematic of the canyon’s geology.

The museum describes the strata of rock seen via the long wall of windows in great detail. The development of the canyon is depicted in large figures, from the rising of the rocks to the erosive power of the water flowing through the canyon far below.

The hiking trails below are visible from the windows, including a beautiful view of the road out to Plateau Point, a branch of the Bright Angel Trail, and a side path leading down to the Colorado River.

Desert View Watchtower

If you’re traveling from the east and entering the park through the Desert View Entrance, Desert View is your first stop. The iconic Indian Watchtower is the major attraction at this full-service stop, which includes a basic store, trading post, and campground.

Old Watch Tower at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA

The Desert View Watchtower, designed by renowned southwest architect Mary Colter in 1932 and built with rugged stones on top of a cliff to blend in with the canyon and mimic the look of original Puebloan structures, was built with rugged stones on top of a cliff to blend in with the canyon and mimic the look of original Puebloan structures. 

Inside the tower, visitors will find the Kiva Room, which has a fireplace, a restroom, a retail shop, and views of the canyon; a gallery with Hopi artwork; and a top-level with panoramic views ranging as far as 100 miles away, including the North Rim and the Colorado River.

Visitors should first look up at the stunning fresco on the ceiling of the Watchtower, which can be seen from the bottom of the stairs. Those who climb the 85 steps to the top of the tower are rewarded with a 360-degree vista. A part of the Colorado River, as well as the Painted Desert, will be visible to visitors. Visitors to the Kiva Room will be treated to panoramic views of the canyon through big windows, as well as a book and gift shop. This is a must-see National Historic Landmark.

Black Suspension Bridge

Also known as the Kaibab Bridge, Black Suspension Bridge connects the North Rim with the South Rim via the Kaibab Trail.

It was the first secure passageway between north and south Kaibab when it was built in 1928. Originally, the only way to cross the Colorado River was to climb into a steel cage suspended perilously from a cableway over the water.

Few people visited the Inner Canyon of the Grand Canyon along the Colorado River corridor in the nineteenth century. Early park visitors rode mule rides into the Inner Canyon from the south rim to observe the Colorado River but were unable to cross due to the river’s strong current. In the early years, there were few visitors to the north rim, and mule rides into the canyon from the north rim were infrequent.

It is still one of the few bridges that span the Colorado River today. In reality, the Black Suspension Bridge is the only one for hundreds of miles, save from the nearby Silver Bridge pedestrian bridge. It’s a favorite with rim-to-rim hikers, Phantom Ranch tourists, and passengers on inner canyon mule rides. The canyon vista from the bridge, which is 65 feet above the Colorado River, is breathtaking.

Canyon Trail Rides

Mule rides are available for one hour and three hours at Canyon Trail Rides. The Grand Canyon’s North Rim is traversed on one-hour tours. To participate, riders must be at least 7 years old. The 3-hour rim ride to Uncle Jim’s Point takes you through woods and meadows on the secluded Ken Patrick Trail.

Canyon Trail Rides organizes mule rides along the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. This is the canyon’s less-visited side, which many visitors find more fascinating.

This trip requires riders to be at least ten years old. The three-hour mule ride to Supai Tunnel is the only one that descends substantially into the Grand Canyon, and riders must be at least ten years old to participate.

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is a huge, semi-circular bridge with a transparent glass floor that allows travelers to walk out 70 feet over the canyon and view the bottom from 4,000 feet above. It is one of the most contentious additions to the Grand Canyon’s surroundings. The Hualapai Indian Tribe owns the land where the Skywalk is located. Since its inception in 2007, the attraction has attracted thousands of tourists.

Both the South Rim and the North Rim are a long drive from the Skywalk. As a result, visitors have been cautioned that visiting the Skywalk will take all day. Visitors must purchase a package to gain admission to the Hualapai Indian Reserve.

Visitors must first purchase a Hualapai Legacy Day Pass, which covers shuttle service to Eagle Point, Guano Point, and Hualapai Ranch as well as admission to tribal land. The Skywalk glass bridge is a separate purchase. Shuttle service, the Skywalk, a Hualapai tour guide, a Native American gift, a dinner, a visitation certificate, and a photo opportunity with Hualapai members are all included in the VIP ticket price.

Hualapai River Runners Rafting

One of the best ways to see the Grand Canyon is from a raft on the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and one of the best ways to see it is from a raft on the Colorado River. Rafters will get up close with millions of years of rock layers on the rocky canyon walls, including limestone, sandstone, shale, granite, and schist.

Whitewater rafting is a spectacular way to see the Grand Canyon, and whitewater rafting at Grand Canyon West is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hualapai River Runners offers the Colorado River’s only 1-day whitewater rafting experiences, as well as 2-day and 5-day adventures.

The one-day trip includes a 12-mile adventure through whitewater rapids, lunch at Travertine Cavern Falls, and a smooth water ride, while the two-day adventures have the same route on day one but include a night in Spencer Canyon. On day two, participants enjoy a leisurely ride on motorized pontoon boats while a guide narrates, before returning to the West Rim by helicopter.

Rafters will learn about the Hualapai Tribe and their connection to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River from their trained Hualalai Tribe river guides, in addition to breathtaking rapids, hiking at Travertine Cavern Falls, local wildlife observation, and lunch along the river’s banks.

Make sure to bring a set of clothes, drinks, and sunscreen with you on any trip. The firm and the type of rafting activity offered to determine the schedules and prices.

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