Grand Canyon South Rim Look-out Points – Whether you are driving, flying, biking or walking to get to the Grand Canyon, you come for the views. Please see our list of most amazing viewpoints.
Grand Canyon South Rim Historic Sites – There are several historic sites at the South Rim that are worth seeing. For more historic “must-sees” click here.
National Geographic Grand Canyon Visitor Center & Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre – This information center including the IMAX theatre is located in Tusayan just outside of the National Park. It has a lot of great resources and you can also pre-purchase a park pass here. The IMAX movie, “Over the Rim and Beyond, Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” is great way to learn about the natural and human history of the canyon and is highly recommended. For more information see Explorethecanyon.com Phone: 928-638-2468
Canyon View Information Center Information Center – Another great information center is the National Park Visitor Center located at Mather’s Point in the Park. There are exhibits, films, maps and bookstore to explore as well as find out about the Ranger programs and lectures. A wonderful resource for all visitors – casual sightseeing and serious hiking. See www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm
Grand Canyon Apache Stables – A distinctive way to see the Canyon is by horseback! Travel along the trails to the rim of the Canyon with guided horseback tours. You can even stop for a campfire meal for a truly Western experience. www.apachestables.com Phone: 928-638-2891
Bright Angel Bicycle Rentals – There a many outlooks over the Canyon that cannot be accessed by car but you can bike to these unique viewpoints. Try a bike ride along these hidden paths and exclusive outlooks. For rates and information: http://bikegrandcanyon.com/bike-rentals/rates/ Phone: 928-638-3055
Yavapai Geology Museum – Located at one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the South Rim, the Yavapai Geology Museum welcomes visitors who are interested in geology or just came for the view. You can attend a lecture by the Park Rangers or study the topographic relief model for a better understanding of how the Grand Canyon evolved. www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm
More South Rim Tours
There are some terrific Ranger Programs sponsored by National Park Service that include topics such as geology, animals and birds, fossils and cultural history. There are a variety of lectures or hikes guided by experienced rangers that will enhance your visit to the Grand Canyon. There is also a Junior Ranger Program for kids 6-14 years old. Be sure to check out the Ranger Programs at www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/2014SRprograms-summer.pdf
The National Park Service posts serious warnings to all hikers about hiking from Rim-to Rim or Rim-to River in one day. The inner gorge temperatures, lack of water and difficulty of the trails tax even the most experienced of hikers. Dehydration, injuries, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very common for hikers that are not prepared for this extreme environment. Do not attempt a one-day Rim-to-Rim or Rim-to-River-Return in one day for your safety.
Rim Trail – The Rim Trail is 12 miles long on level, mostly paved road and is one of the easiest trails at the South Rim. As it’s name indicates, this trail follows the rim and offers beautiful, panoramic views of the Canyon. There is NO water along this trail so hikers must be well-prepared. (For more details – www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/RimTrail.pdf)
Bright Angel Trail – This is a beautiful desert trail but it is also a very strenuous trail that requires some planning and preparation. The trail is 9.2 roundtrip to Indian Garden, a welcoming refuge and natural spring in the midst of harsh terrain or you can hike another 3 miles further to Plateau Point. The 3,000 foot return to the rim is brutal for most hikers that underestimate the intense heat and rough landscape. The trans-canyon pipeline provides some water at the Mile-and-a-half Resthouse, the Three Mile Resthouse, and Indian Garden. (For more details – www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/BrightAngelTrail.pdf)
South Kaibab Trail – South Kaibab is not as popular as Bright Angel because there is no water source and very little shade. This trail is steep, difficult and demanding but it does have the Ooh-Aah Point which is so-named because of the hiker’s response to its magnificent view. Due to summer temperatures in the inner gorge with no water and no shade, it is recommended to hike to Cedar Ridge and return, about 3 miles roundtrip. As temperatures are cooler in the fall or spring, a hiker can continue to Skeleton Point, about 6 miles roundtrip. (For more information – www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/SouthKaibabTrail.pdf)
Hermit Trail – This trail is considered more difficult than Bright Angel or South Kaibab because of it’s rocky, steep terrain. The trail starts at Hermit’s Rest and ends at Santa Maria Spring with a natural water pool and waterfalls, approximately 5 miles. Please note that there is no water source along the way and the water at Santa Maria Spring must be treated before drinking. The hike is recommended for experienced hikers!
Grandview Trail – This trail is very steep, rocky, rough, unmaintained and very exhausting! Do not take this trail without hiking experience and hiking boots, around 6.4-mile roundtrip. The trail offers beautiful views of Horseshoe Mesa and exploration of caves called Cave of Domes. Along the way, there are still remnants of original cobblestones from the mining days.
The Grand Canyon is a great place to bike but there are some things you ought to know:
- There is a $12.00 per person entrance fee for biking into the Canyon
- Bicycle Rentals are available at the South Rim from Bright Angel Bicycles.
- Best Biking Trail is the Hermit Road Greenway Trail. The trail is located between The Abyss and Hermit Rest and offers a bicycle path along the rim in certain areas
- Bicycle and Backpack campsites are located at Mather Campground and cost $6.00 per person, per night.
- The shuttle busses are equipped with 2-3 capacity bicycle racks mounted on the front of each bus. The biker is responsible for loading and unloading the bikes as well as bike security.
- Bicycles are prohibited below the rim of the Canyon and on any portion of the Canyon Rim Trail.
- Bicycles are welcome on the Hermit Road Greenway Trail and other paved and unpaved park roads.
- PLEASE NOTE: The South Rim of Grand Canyon averages 7,000 feet / 2,134 meters. This is important to remember if you are not used to this elevation and biking can be very strenuous.
There are several campgrounds at the South Rim for both tents and RV’s.
- Mather Point Campground (300 sites) – Located right at the Grand Canyon Village where there are lodges, shuttles, the train station and visitor center, Mather Point Campground is a very popular site because of the nearby amenities. Restrooms are close with laundry and shower facilities available for a fee. Pets allowed but required to be on a leash and supervised at all times. There are NO RV hook-ups at Mather Campground. The campsite fee is $18 per night with restrictions and Group sites are also available. For more information and reservations, contact the National Recreation Reservation Service. 877-444-6777 Online: www.recreation.gov/
- Trailer Village – This RV park is located near the Canyon Village Market Place at the South Rim. It has full hook-ups with pull-through paved sites up to 50 ft in length. There are picnic tables, barbeque grills and electrical service as well as laundry and telephone services. Reservations for Trailer Village are made through Xanterra Parks & Resorts®. www.grandcanyonlodges.com/lodging/trailer-village
- Desert View Campground (50 sites) – The campground is smaller with only 50 sites and more secluded, located 26 miles from the Grand Canyon Village. There are NO RV hook-ups but there are restrooms and two water faucets at the site. The fee is $12.00 per night and there is a maximum of seven nights allowed. Pets are allowed but on a leash and attended at all times. No reservations are accepted and it is a first come-first-served with the site filling up by noon each day.
Looking for River Running at the Grand Canyon? You need to check out the Grand Canyon East and Grand Canyon West. There are no river running trips that start at the South Rim.
If you would like to take a mule ride from the South Rim, you must plan over a year in advance! Mule rides are booked up to 13 months in advance and they book fast. Please note that there are weight restrictions for the different mule rides.
There are 2 mule trips:
- New Canyon Vistas Ride – This tour lasts three hours along a four-mile trail close to the South Kaibab trailhead. Mule riders will be in the saddle for approximately two hours with stops and lectures by the guide about the surrounding area and history. From March to October, the tour has two departures per day but only one departure in the off-season after October. The cost is $114.00 plus tax.
- Overnight Rides – This mule ride departs from the Bright Angel Lodge and travels 10.5 miles (approximately 5 ½ hours) from the rim to the floor of the Canyon. At Phantom Ranch, stay in cabin accommodations for the evening before returning on the South Kaibab Trail (7.8 miles / 5 hours) to the rim of the Canyon. Overnight rides include accommodations and meals and start at $523.43 for the first person, or two people for $924.04 including taxes. You can request two-night accommodations.
Mule rides from the South Rim can be reserved through: Xanterra Parks & Resorts. 303- 297-2757 / 888-297-2757 www.grandcanyonlodges.com/things-to-do/mule-trips
There is a waiting list but only for day-before cancellations. For Day Before waiting list information, call (928) 638-2631 or contact the Bright Angel Lodge transportation desk inside the park.