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The Grand Canyon

The South Rim


Grand Canyon Rainbow

Grand Canyon Rainbow

Courtesy of Art Today
The South Rim is the most famous part of the Grand Canyon, and the busiest. It's the place you may have visited through your Viewmaster as a child, or seen in National Geographic.

See It Now: Photo Tour

Best Time to Visit

Check the average highs, lows, and rainfall for your planned travel dates on our Grand Canyon Weather page.
  • Summer is very busy, and if it's your only option, it's manageable with advance planning.
  • The weather is mild during the "shoulder" seasons in April-May and September-October and the park is less crowded.
  • Rainfall is lowest in May and June, and highest in August when summer rainstorms can put on spectacular shows.
  • In mid-winter the sun will only reach the bottom of the canyon for a few hours at mid-day, and winter night temperatures are often below freezing.
  • If you want to take a rafting trip, rafting season runs from April through October (through December for non-motorized craft).

Getting There

The nearest major airports are in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and the most convenient way to get to the canyon from either airport is to rent a car and drive. You can access the south rim either from the south near Grand Canyon Village, or from the east near Desert View. It's a 26-mile drive between these two points. The south entrance is the best place to start.

Where to Sleep and Eat

Grand Canyon National Park Lodges operates all the hotels in the park, and prices vary by location. Bright Angel, Thunderbird, Kachina and El Tovar Lodges are on the rim, while others are in the woods. Several of the hotels have restaurants, and Maswik Lodge and Yavapai Lodge have cafeterias. Mather Campground and nearby Trailer Village cater to campers. Outside the park, you can find lodging at Tusayan, Valle or Williams. Reservations are highly recommended for any type of lodging, inside or outside the park, especially in mid-summer.

What to See

You will get a copy of The Guide, the park newspaper, when you pass through the park entry gate. It's an invaluable resource that will include announcements about activities and information about any unexpected closures.

From the Visitor Center at Grand Canyon Village, the West Rim Drive leads eight miles west to Hermit's Rest, and the East Rim Drive (Desert View Drive) goes 25 miles to Desert View and the park's eastern entrance. Free shuttle service runs year round throughout Grand Canyon Village and out to the South Kaibab Trailhead. March through November, there is a free shuttle service along Hermit Road, and the road is closed to private vehicles.

Driving In: Mather Point, on your way in from the south, is the first place to see the canyon, looking down on Pipe Creek Canyon and its eroded landscape. From here, you can hike a mile along the Rim Trail (or drive) to the Yavapai Observation Station, set right on the rim of the canyon, and a good place for a panoramic view or to watch a sunset. From Yavapai, the flat Rim Trail continues 2.9 miles past the El Tovar Hotel to Maricopa Point.

Grand Canyon Village: Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the canyon, check the detailed schedules for ranger-led programs, stop at the bookstore to pick up a coloring book for the kids or a souvenir poster and get helpful advice from the rangers. Ranger-led programs and hikes are a highly recommended way to get the most of your canyon visit.

West Rim Drive: It's eight miles from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit's Rest, named for hermit Louis Boucher who lived nearby for 21 years. You can hike an unpaved section of the Rim Trail west to Hermit's Rest, take the shuttle when it's running, drive if the road is open or bicycle any time. Along the way, there are many excellent views that will be detailed on the park map you get when you arrive. At the end of the road you will find restrooms, a gift shop and drinking water. Be sure to stop at Hopi House, an unusual building designed after structures in a Hopi village that now displays and sells Native American arts and crafts, and at Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio.

East Rim Drive: Many people think Grandview Point along the East Rim Drive has the best views of the canyon, but it isn't the only place to stop. Visit the Tusayan Ruin, a prehistoric pueblo that is over 800 years old, Desert View (the highest viewpoint on the south rim) and the Desert View Watchtower. If you continue driving east out of the park, you will find an Indian market at a viewpoint about 20 miles away.

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