South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Written by on April 22, 2017 in AZ Outdoor Adventures - Comments Off on South Rim of the Grand Canyon

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is far more developed and more frequently visited than the North Rim. Nearly five million visitors a year come from all over the world. For good reason! There is nothing else like it in the world. The view is so spectacular and awe inspiring, you’ll have trouble believing its real. Its beauty and size will humble you … its timelessness will awe you … its vast spaces will touch a quiet place in your heart.

If you enter the park from Arizona State Route 89 and follow the South Rim of the canyon, your first stop should be the Desert View Information Center and Bookstore, located at Desert View Point near the park’s east entrance. Follow the road past Desert View and you will discover dozens of overlooks where you can see the amazing strata of rock as the canyon slowly deepens at each stop. It’s worth taking a half day to explore these overlooks and watch the canyon deepen and widen. Along the way are a couple of Native American archeological sites that are very interesting. If you enter the park from the South or West, you first climb to the top of the Kaibab Plateau, heavily forested with pines. There aren’t many places to stop along the way for overlooks of the canyon, so save your viewing for the area around Grand Canyon Village.

Grand Canyon Village offers several unique lodges and inns, shopping, dining, visitor’s information and museums. It also the end of the line for Grand Canyon Railroad, another terrific way to reach the park. Free shuttle buses are available in the village with four different routes that take you to different parts of the canyon and to the nearby town of Tusayan (with even more lodging, shopping, dining and nightlife).

The Canyon View Information Center in the village is a good place to start your exploration of the South Rim. Huge models of the canyon, outdoor exhibits and ranger-led discussions help you understand how the canyon was carved and what to see and do while you are there.

Perhaps the very best way to see the canyon is the follow the Rim Trail, which starts at Grand Canyon Village and ends at Hermit’s Rest — a hike of 12 miles. Most of the trail is paved and has only very slight elevation changes. Since it follows the rim of the canyon, the views are truly spectacular. The best part is, if your feet give out, the Rim Trail offers easy access to the shuttle bus stops, and you can pick up where you left off the next day.

Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail and Grandview Trail all descend over the rim and into the canyon itself. Every single one of the trails is steep to very steep. Anyone with health conditions should avoid hiking very far along these trails, but if you are in good shape, it’s a fantastic way to really experience the solitude of the canyon.

Several other visitor centers and stops provide additional information on the canyon’s creation and history:

  • Verkamp’s Visitor Center is a short walk east of the El Tovar hotel and Hopi House. The Verkamp’s home and business was constructed in 1906 and started as a gift shop. The National Park Service now owns the building and it hosts a bookstore and exhibits about the pioneer history of Grand Canyon Village. Several ranger-conducted activities start here.
  • Yavapai Observation Station is the place to go if the geology of the canyon fascinates you. You’ll marvel at the three-dimensional models, photographs and exhibits, all of which will help you understand the complicated geologic story of the canyon.
  • Kolb Studio was once the home and business of the Kolb brothers, who were among the first pioneers to photograph the canyon. It now exhibits art, including entries into the Paint the Parks competition. The bookstore offers a wide range of geologic, historic and southwestern reading.
  • The Tusayan Ruin and Museum offers an extraordinary window into the Pueblo Indian culture that lived along the canyon rim some 800 years ago. A self-guided trail will lead you through the ruins, while the museum has samples of pottery, seashell bracelets, arrowheads and split-twig figurines through to be between 2,000 and 4,000 years old.

There are plenty of lodging opportunities inside the park, including El Tovar, Bright Angel Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge and Kachina Lodge to name a few. Perhaps the most unique lodging experience Phantom Ranch. The Ranch can only be reached by mule, by foot, or by rafting the Colorado River and is a popular stop-over point for hikers and mule riders traveling to the bottom of the Canyon via the famous Bright Angel or Kaibab trails. Tucked in beside Bright Angel Creek on the north side of the Colorado River, Phantom Ranch is the only lodging facility below the canyon rim.

Lodging prices range from $50 to $300 per night. The nearby gateway community of Tusayan, seven miles south of the rim, offers even more options.

Mather Campground is located in Grand Canyon Village and offers tent and RV camping. Trailer Village adjacent to Mather Campground offers RV sites with hookups. Desert View Campground, 26 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, offers 50 spots for tents or RVs (no hookups). Backcountry camping permits are required for overnight hikers, horseback riders, river rafters, etc.

More stories in the Grand Canyon Series include:

Formation of the Grand Canyon
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
North Rim of the Grand Canyon
Inhabitants of the Grand Canyon
River Rafting the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Condors Make a Comeback in the Grand Canyon
Top 10 Things To Do at the Grand Canyon
Legend of Egyptian Artifacts in the Grand Canyon
The Ghost of Crash Canyon
Phantom Ranch at the Grand Canyon

Lodging and Hotels near Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon Lodging Information Overview and to make reservations on-line:
Phone: 303-297-2757, 888-297-2757

Phantom Ranch
Reservations and Information: 303-297-2757 or 888-297-2757

Camping Reservations
Reservations may be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at the

Backcountry Permits
Download the permit from Then submit the form in person, fax request to Backcountry Information Center, 928-638-2125, or mail request to Backcountry Information Center, GCNP, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon AZ, 86023.

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