Get Your Guide Now

What Is Grand Canyon East?

Confluence of the Little Colorado River
Confluence of the Little Colorado River

Grand Canyon East Rim Defined

The Grand Canyon is essentially a huge rift in the earth extending about 277 miles (446 kilometers) from east to west.  Grand Canyon East is NOT a definition used by the National Park Service.  It is a definition used by local people to mark the area where a number of popular sites can be visited.  The Little Colorado River Gorge, the historic Cameron Trading Post, Marble Canyon, Navajo Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Rainbow Bridge, Tower Butte, part of Lake Powell and the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lee's Ferry are all located within the "East Rim".  Much of this area is also known as the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the remainder is Navajo Land.   Grand Canyon East is located in an area that is along the Colorado River to the north and the east of the South Rim.

The Little Colorado River Gorge is Nik Wallenda's "Grand Canyon" where he walked across the Canyon on a cable.  It is located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. It is the controversial area where a proposed resort may be built beginning in 2018.  Currently the Navajo Tribe is split on the decision to build on "sacred" land and the Hopi Tribe, who expects respect for their sacred sites, is totally against the proposal.  You can drive along the gorge as you drive on State Route 64 between the east entrance to the South Rim and the town of Cameron, Arizona.  There are two view areas; one with rails.  The one with rails is a fee area and the other one is not.  The fee is minimal and well worth the price to get the view.

Cameron Trading Post is located in Cameron near the junction of State Route 64 and US 89.  It offers lodging as well as dining and simply a place to stop and rest from your travels for a few minutes.  The Native American Arts and Crafts are displayed throughout the store.  Most of the items are for sale.  You might also see a Navajo woman demonstrating how to weave a rug.

Marble Canyon from the air
Marble Canyon Bridges

Navajo Bridge and its twin offer a way to cross the Colorado River at Marble Canyon.  If you plan to visit Lee's Ferry and do some world class trout fishing you will use the updated twin bridge for driving and the original Navajo Bridge to walk across.  Be sure to visit the Navajo Interpretive Center at Navajo Bridge and learn about the Navajos.  Walk around and read the plaques that tell some of the area history.

Horseshoe Bend is now known as a Grand Canyon "icon".  Articles about the National Park often prominently display a picture of this view of a horseshoe shaped meander on the Colorado River.  A short hike will get you to the rim where you can see spectacular views without rails to get in the way.  There is also a downside to this - there are no rails.  Don't go too close to the edge if you have vertigo!  Keep young children close to you - perhaps in a harness. If hiking isn't your thing and you still want to visit Horseshoe Bend try an air tour.

Antelope Canyon has long been a destinations for locals.  Now it is also a destination for travelers across the globe.  The beauty of this slot canyon is indescribable.  You have to see it to understand its beauty.  Antelope Canyon has two sections:  Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.  Each has its own beauty but the upper section is generally more crowded.  In addition to Antelope Canyon there are other slot canyons in the area

Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a landform made of sandstone, is viewable by tours from Lake Powell or by air tours from the Page Municipal Airport.  You won't want to miss the opportunity to see this amazing formation - one of the largest natural bridges in the world!

Don't miss the opportunity to take a helicopter flight and land on Tower Butte!  The views from the top are absolutely breath-taking!  This tour departs from the Page Municipal Airport and takes you to a place that few others have had the opportunity to visit.  Don't forget your camera or your friends won't believe you when you tell them about this place!

Tower Butte Helicopter Tour
Tower Butte

Lake Powell offers several options in the East Rim area.  You can take a boat tour to Lower Antelope Canyon or Rainbow Bridge.  You can rent a power boat or personal water craft for a day of fun on the lake.  You can rent a houseboat and travel on the lake for a few days or a week.  You can spend the night on wide beaches or in tiny coves.  You can eat at one of two floating marinas on the lake or you can take a dinner cruise. You can explore the back canyons and do a little hiking.  There are too many options to mention them all!

Last, but not least, you can spend time on the Colorado River by taking a raft tour from Lee's Ferry - a smooth water float trip that is guaranteed to relax you and keep you busy looking for crazy "pictures" on the canyon walls.  You will float around Horseshoe Bend and perhaps see people at the rim enjoying the view.  At about a thousand feet above you they will look very tiny.  You will be able to spend about 3 hours on the river enjoying the scenery before you arrive back at Lee's Ferry where a bus will pick you up to return you to Page, Arizona.

You can also take your own boat (or rent a boat) to go fishing on the Colorado River.  This is a famous trout fishing area.  You will drive to Lee's Ferry and launch your boat from there.  Pay attention to where you are going because the Grand Canyon White Water rapids begin not far downstream from Lee's Ferry.  You can motor almost to Glen Canyon Dam and fish along the way.  You can also camp at specified campgrounds along the river if you choose.

 Why Should I Visit the East Rim?

There are a lot of reasons to visit the East Rim.  I have  listed some of them above.  Additionally, the East Rim isn't quite as crowded as the South Rim and there is plenty to see and do while you are there. Other points of interest include Hanging Garden Trail, Stud Horse Point, Skylight Arch, Alstrom Point on Romana Mesa, Birthday Arch, Toadstools Trail, etc.   During the summer and early fall months lodging sells out several months in advance so be sure to plan ahead of time and enjoy your visit.

33 Responses

    1. Depends on where on the east side you want enter, iit is on the Navajo Reservation side, to south you have to enquire at Cameron, Az., 20-40 miles north, you need to enquire at The Gap Chapter House. Have respect for people living in, livestock and the land around the area.

  1. Louise,

    The East Rim Entrance is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year...excepting a very rare snow storm that would close it down. And, again, it is ONLY closed while they are plowing the road.

    October 19th & 20th are VERY rarely an issue with snow. Snow is normally an issue from late November through early March. It will be open 24 hours per day when you get here.



    1. It takes about 4.5 hours to drive from the east rim to Las Vegas by way of St. George, UT. It takes about 7 hours to drive to Las Vegas by way of Flagstaff.

    1. Hello Mina,

      You can drive from the South Rim to the east. You can drive to the Lower Antelope Canyon entrance, pay your fee, and walk through it. For Upper Antelope Canyon you must go with a tour company.

  2. Where is the best place to swim/recreation, cabins In the turquoise waters for kids and best area to see the beauty of the Grand Canyon. How far drive to Sedona, Arizona? Best time of year to visit?

    1. Tamara,

      There is the Supai Lodge down at Havasupai. Learn more here: https://theofficialhavasupaitribe.com/Havasupai-Lodge/havasupai-lodge.html

      Unfortunately, I am going to tell you that Havasupai has gone so viral on the Internet that it is already booked up at the Campground almost thru the end of the year.

      It is normally about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Sedona from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hualapai Hilltop parking lot where you go down to Havasupai is more 3 1/2 hours away.

      The best time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon in my opinion is October.



  3. Is the East Rim Desert View Entrance worth the detour off Highway 89 on our way to river rafting in Page? We are also hiking the South Kaibab Trail a different day. Is there anything at the East Rim that we wouldn't want to miss? I know all areas of the Grand Canyon are breathtaking, but if time (or tired kids) are an issue, should we skip the East Entrance if we are already hiking down from the South Rim and rafting along the Colorado River? And how much time should we plan for if we do make the stop?


    1. April,

      If you are hiking down the South Kaibab Trail and then going to Page...you will go right past the Desertview Watchtower and out the East Entrance on your way to Page. So you'll see it anyways.

      I'd just stop and quickly go up the Desertview Watchtower if you pass it during business hours. Plan 30 minutes.



    1. Melissa,

      I am going to assume you are speaking about the beautiful blue green waterfalls of Havasupai!

      Please learn more at this link as it requires a permit that you must have purchased in advance to visit Havasu Falls:

      Obviously, there are other waterfalls in the Grand Canyon, however, most of them require difficult hikes. The other falls in the Grand Canyon that are easiest to visit is Ribbon Falls on the North Kaibab Trail.

      I hope this helps,


  4. Thanks for your information here. I have read that the East entrance of Grand Canyon is only one way in?? If this is true, should I plan to go into the East entrance and then leave out by way of South exit? We are wanting to head to Page after Grand Canyon.

    1. Sara,

      No, you can both Enter and Depart through the East Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.

      The advantage of this is that the East Entrance is, oftentimes, much less busy than the South Entrance.



  5. Hoping to visit Cameron and then Painted Desert ... with East Enterance closed what would be best route ?

    1. James,

      From the South Rim, take Highway 64 to Valle, Arizona, then jump on Highway 180 into Flagstaff, Arizona and then take Highway 89 North to Cameron, Arizona and the Painted Desert.

      With that in mind, you also need to be aware that there is a PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER by the NAVAJO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH dated August 16, 2020
      Public Health Emergency Order No. 2020‐021 stating:

      The Nation roads remain closed to Visitors for the duration of the declared public health
      emergency, and Visitors are advised to refrain from traveling to the Navajo Nation at this
      time. Tribal parks will not be accessible to Visitors and Tourists during this time. With the
      phased reopening of the Navajo Nation, Visitors will be informed by Public Health
      Emergency Order when the Navajo Nation can safely welcome Visitors back to the Nation.

      Please check for updates as you plan your visit to any Navajo Nation Lands...things are changing daily.

      I hope this helps,


  6. That's interesting about the definition about the "East Rim", your definition is one of the better ones we have read. We have always felt that there is no such thing as a "East Rim of the Grand Canyon", but if locals want to call it that I guess that is their right.

    1. Matthew,

      Many visitors transition around the Eastern end of the Grand Canyon to access the North Rim, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion National Parks. Of course, this takes you past the Little Colorado River, Marble Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon...again, all on the Eastern side of the Grand Canyon.

      The reason you may not consider it the East Rim is because for many years the Bennett Freeze stopped all development to the actual East Rim of the Grand Canyon. Now, finally, Sacred Edge Tours can actually take you to the ACTUAL EAST RIM!
      Interestingly enough, that is to Point Hansbrough which looks just like Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona.

      I won't even get into the fact that the Grand Canyon Enlargement act of 1975 increased the size of the Grand Canyon National Park to include much of what we call EAST, nor that to John Wesley Powell in 1869 it was all one Big Canyon from Green River Wyoming to Callville Nevada, nor that Grand Canyon is simply a collection of smaller canyon's, nor that Grand Canyon has three Tribal Entity's that control a vast portion of what you might call the Grand Canyon, however, are not technically Grand Canyon National Park because they lie on Hualapai, Supai, and Navajo lands. Point being, if you want to remain with a strictly National Park Service definition of what Grand Canyon National Park is...you are partly right, and partly wrong. However, we are here to serve those who chose to visit this vast area and need orientation so they can wrap their minds around it's expanse and put some order to it as they plan their vacations. And, since Grand Canyon, has traditionally been the cornerstone of those vacation plans...we choose to use it was the reference point...hence, Grand Canyon East.

      Thank you for providing the opportunity to explain ourselves,


  7. We are visiting with our grand kids the South Rim on April 6, what is best route to visit the East Rim? Thanks Mike

    1. Michael,

      Unfortunately, the East Entrance Gate to Grand Canyon National Park will remain Closed on your visit on April 6th, so you will need to depart out the South Entrance Gate on Highway 64 to Flagstaff, then in Flagstaff navigate to Highway 89 North to Cameron, Page and the East Rim area including Marble Canyon, Lees Ferry, and Horseshoe Bend. This does add about 2 hours to your drive to that Area.

      Thank You,


  8. From Flagstaff, is it better to enter the Grand Canyon from the south entrance or east entrance? We will be there the first week in May. We want to hike the Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, drive Desert View and see the Watch Tower

    1. Georgia,

      From Flagstaff, I always recommend the East Entrance because it allows you to loop back out the South Entrance to Flagstaff AND normally, there is a much shorter line at the East Entrance.

      You will also be able to hit all of the points you laid out in a loop too!



  9. We are leaving the south rim of Grand Canyon on our way to Zion and we were told the quickest way to Zion is to go by the eastern entrance of the the Grand Canyon and then on to Zion Is this the best route?

Show More Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.