The Grand Canyon Area Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to visit Grand Canyon National Park and other locations in and around the Grand Canyon and Northern Arizona. The area features diverse outdoor recreation and some of the world's most spectacular sightseeing.
(Right: The Watchtower on the South Rim - Desert View Drive)
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Inner Canyon |
North Rim |
Toroweap Overlook |
Havasu Canyon |
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim
The South Rim of
Grand Canyon National Park is the destination of most Grand Canyon visitors. The center of activity is Grand Canyon Village, 80 miles north of Flagstaff, and convenient to Interstates 40 and 17, 210 miles from Phoenix and about 275 miles from Las Vegas. The village area includes motels, restaurants, stores, galleries, museums, vista points, and hiking trails. It is the starting point for the most popular trail (Bright Angel) into the
The Desert View Road connects the village area to the park's east entrance. It features more outstanding vista points, trailheads, the popular Watchtower overlook (photo, above), and the Tusayan Indian ruins. The Hermit Road extends west from the village and offers some of the most outstanding views of the Inner Canyon. More canyon trails (Hermit, Dripping Spring, Boucher) starts at Hermit's Rest at the end of the road. The road is closed to auto traffic (access by shuttle bus only) except in winter.
The town of Tusayan just south of the park entrance offers additional visitor services, more motels and restuarants. The Grand Canyon IMAX Theater is also located here. Several canyon air tours operate out of Tusayan. Further south, Flagstaff and Williams offer more services. The Grand Canyon Railway operates out of Williams and brings passengers to the South Rim. There is a concession taxi service between Tusayan, Grand Canyon Airport, and Grand Canyon Village, as well as a seasonal shuttle bus. Call 928-638-2822 for details. For more transportation details, see the
How Do I Travel to the South Rim (NPS Guide).
Park Shuttle Bus System. Due to the very heavy auto traffic in the South Rim's Grand Canyon Village area, the National Park Services offers free, frequent shuttle bus service and limits parking. There are parking lots at the rim hotels for visitors staying there. Other visitors should park at the central lots in the Market Plaza area. There is an RV parking lot near the park visitor center. The shuttle system doesn't serve the Desert View area, 25 miles to the east.
The Village Route (blue on park transit map) services Grand Canyon Village from the Bright Angel Trailhead area east to the main visitor center near Mather Point. The Hikers' Express Route (green) shuttles hikers between the Bright Angel Trailhead and the South Kaibab Trailhead. The Kaibab/Rim Route (yellow) runs between Yaki Point and the Yavapai Geology Museum and is considered a scenic route. (Personal vehicles may not access the popular Yaki Point vista area.) The Hermits Rest Route (red) runs from the west end of the village west to Hermits Rest from March through November, stopping at nine of the best canyon overlooks. During that time, Hermit Road is closed to auto traffic. The Tusayan Route (purple) provides "park and ride" service from the gateway town of Tusayan (where there are many motels), seven miles south of the park entrance. This route operates from May to early September.
The buses stop at all rim motels and all parking lots. Use of the shuttle service is highly recommended.
NPS South Rim Shuttle Bus Guide
NPS Grand Canyon Maps and Guides (PDF files)
Tusayan Greenway. The Tusayan Greenway trail extends six miles from the town of Tusayan to the Mather Point Visitor Center at the South Rim. Visitors staying in the gateway town of Tusayan may leave their vehicles in the new parking lot at the trailhead, then hike, bike, or ride horseback into the park on the new trail, or take the free shuttle bus into the park.
South Rim Activities.
Viewing the canyon. By far the most common visitor activity is viewing the canyon from the various vista points. Mather Point near the visitor center juts out into the canyon and offers perhaps the most popular views, as does nearby Yavapai Point. Heading west on Hermits Road, Hopi Point, Pima Point, Hermits Rest, and others view a different section of canyon. You can get a glimpse of the Colorado River flowing west through the Inner Canyon. Going east on the Desert View Road You start getting views of the Painted Desert in the background. The view of the canyon including the Watchtower is quite interesting.
Taking a hike.The Rim Trail runs nine miles from Mather Point west to Hermits Rest. The first 3.5 miles from Mather Point are paved, level, and handicapped accessible. For the most part the trail follows the edge of the rim, offering ever-changing views of the canyon. The pavement continues beyond the village area before changing to dirt. There are no hand rails along the canyon edge. The park shuttle bus stops at numerous places along the trail.
Day hikes are possible into the canyon as well but travel to the Colorado River and back is not recommended. See our Inner Canyon Guide for suggestions.
The Trail of Time is an interpretive walking timeline that focuses on Grand Canyon vistas and rocks and invites visitors to ponder, explore, and understand the magnitude of geologic time and the stories encoded by Grand Canyon rock layers and landscapes. The exhibit opened in 2010. Starting on the Rim Trail just west of the Yavapai Geology Museum, visitors walk backward in time from today toward the oldest rock in Grand Canyon, Elves Chasm gneiss (1,840 million years old) or begin east of Verkamp's Visitor Center and walking forward in time.
Visiting bookstores, museums, galleries. Besides the usual travelers' services stores, there are several classic shops along the rim in Grand Canyon Village that date from the early 19th century. The Lookout Studio is perched right on the edge of the canyon. It has a viewing telescope and sells a variety of souvenirs. Kolb Studio dates from 1904 and is at the start of the Bright Angel Trail. It offers a bookstore and changing art exhibits. Historic Hopi House (from 1905) features Native American crafts in a pueblo-style building. Verkamps (from 1906) features gifts and Native American crafts.
In the Desert View area, 25 miles east of the village, visit the Watchtower built in 1932 to replicate an ancient pueblo. You can climb to the top for views in all directions. Its walls feature murals by a Hopi artist, and there is a Native American gift store. Nearby is a gift store / snack shop and a small visitor center. The Tusayan Museum and Bookstore focuses on the adjacent 800-year old ruin site where there is a self-guiding trail.
Participate in a ranger program. The park service offers a wide variety of interpretive programs. Check the current schedule at the information center.
Biking the Canyon. It is possible to enjoy the rim trails on bicycle. A concessionaire offers bike rentals as well as guided tours. Located at the visitor center.
Grand Canyon Railway. The Train Depot is in the heart of the village. The railway offers various packages for riding the train from Williams, Arizona, to Grand Canyon Village, and staying at a Williams motel.
National Geographic Visitor Center, Grand Canyon and IMAX Theater. Located in Tusayan, 7 miles south of rim. Features the popular Grand Canyon Movie in IMAX format. Also, other exhibits, outfitter store, and tour booking.
Inner Canyon Activities.
There are various ways of accessing the Inner Grand Canyon, all of them exciting and most of them quite strenuous. These include hiking, mule rides, river rafting, and air tours. See our Inner Canyon Guide for more information.
Lodging and Camping
South Rim and Nearby Camping
South Rim and Nearby Lodging
Note: Some of the links in this guide are to publications in PDF format. The PDF's can only be viewed or printed using
Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free, online).
Grand Canyon Area Travel Guide Index
Guides to Nearby Destinations
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