How to See the South Rim
Canyon View Information Plaza is the park's visitor facility. Here you will find the visitor center (Canyon View Center), a large bookstore, and ample restrooms, all within a short walk of Mather Point. Because this facility was designed as the terminus for a mass transit system that is not yet operating, you cannot drive to it. Park your car and ride the free shuttle or walk the short trail from Mather Point.
There are many overlooks accessible by car that offer spectacular views of the canyon. Desert View Drive (Highway 64) follows the canyon rim for 26 miles/42 km east of Grand Canyon Village to Desert View - the east entrance to the park. Desert View Drive is open to private vehicles throughout the year. Hermit Road follows the rim for 8 miles/13 km west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles much of the year, but the park runs a free shuttle bus to provide transportation to overlooks.
A hiking trail, known as the Rim Trail, follows the rim from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest. The section of the Rim Trail between Pipe Creek Vista and Maricopa Point is paved, and mostly wheelchair accessible. Unpaved portions of the trail, between Maricopa Point and Hermits Rest, are narrow and close to the edge. Bicycles are not permitted on the Rim Trail.
Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point offers panoramic views of the canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. The Yavapai Observation Station is located in close proximity to the Grand Canyon lodging on the rim.
For viewing and photographing the canyon, the best light is early or late in the day. Mid-day sun tends to flatten the view and soften the colors. Remember that days are short in the winter and long in the summer. If you plan to see the canyon at sunrise or sunset, it is recommended that you be on the rim at least an hour before.
The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon, 5000 feet/1524 m below the rim. Because of the enormous depth of Grand Canyon, the river is visible only from certain viewpoints. It is a two-day hike to the river and back from the South Rim. It's a longer trip from the North Rim. It is possible to drive to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry (near Marble Canyon, Arizona), a 2.5 hour drive (one way) from the South Rim. Lees Ferry marks the official beginning of Grand Canyon.