A rundown of the top viewpoints on the South Rim for the best Grand Canyon views. Make the most of your visit to Grand Canyon National Park by seeing breathtaking vistas and lookout spots along Desert Point Drive, Mather Point, the South Rim Trail, and Hermit’s Road Drive.
First-time visitors to The Grand Canyon will undoubtedly be overwhelmed by the sheer scale of this geological marvel. Spanning 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and dropping over a mile deep, the canyon’s magnitude and beauty is boundless, so much so that it has earned a spot on the list of 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
So, ready to visit?
The best place to see the Grand Canyon is to visit the South Rim in Arizona. Here, you’ll find loads of popular viewpoints and scenic hiking trails for spectacular views of Grand Canyon National Park. In this blog post, I’ll outline some of the very best ones, and include some photos that I took from each spot to get you inspired.
- Best Grand Canyon Views & Vantage Points
- What About the Skywalk?
- Where to Stay in Grand Canyon National Park
- Things to Know About Chasing Views at the Grand Canyon
- More Amazing Grand Canyon Views At the North Rim
- More Photos from the Grand Canyon South Rim
- More: US Travel & Road Trip Inspiration
Best Grand Canyon Views & Vantage Points
1. Desert View Watchtower & Viewpoint
For those driving into the National Park from the east, your first glimpse of the incredible Grand Canyon will likely be at the Desert View vantage point. This historic viewpoint is located near the very end of Desert View Drive (Arizona State Route 64), a 23-mile (37km) scenic road to the Grand Canyon Village.
At the Desert View Point, you'll get expansive views of the canyon. This includes an iconic 90-degree bend of the Colorado River where it cuts directly into a major uplift. Additionally, from this viewpoint, you'll get to see the famous Granite Gorge and its spectacular rock formations.
Furthermore, it's hard to miss the historic Desert View Watchtower, a National Historic Landmark constructed in 1932. The watchtower blends nicely into the dry, rocky landscape since the design is influenced by the constructions of the Ancestral Puebloan people of the Southwest.
Unfortunately, the upper levels were not open when I visited but I'd say that there would be incredible Grand Canyon views from the top.
At Desert View, you'll also find a very large parking lot and other facilities including restrooms, The Desert View Visitor Centre, and the Grand Canyon Association Park Store (gift shop).
2. Grandview Point
Most people tend to stop at this particular spot on Desert View Drive. That's because it's the Grand Canyon overlook spot with the grandest name.
Grandview Point is located approximately halfway between Desert View Point and the Grand Canyon Village. This pull-over spot is another large parking lot with an amazing vantage point.
This spot offers open, 180-degree, panoramic views of the Grand Canyon and great views of the Colorado River bends to the east.
Grandview Point is also the starting point for one of the steepest hiking trails in Grand Canyon National Park– the Grandview Trail.
3. Ooh Aah Point
Making your way along Desert View Drive towards Mather Point and the Visitor's Center, you'll see plenty of pull-over spots and picnic areas to admire the Grand Canyon including Moran Point, Duck on a Rock Viewpoint, and Shoshone Point.
Many of these stops offer similar views. But, if you're looking for the best Grand Canyon view that is a little unique, consider the 1.8-mile (2.9 km) return hike to Ooh Aah Point along the South Kaibab Trail. This is a great option if you want to escape the crowds along the rim but also don't want to commit to a long full-day trail.
The South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point involves roughly 700 feet of elevation, which you'll both descend and ascend (particularly for the first 1/4 to 1/2 mile) as it's an out-and-back trail. Overall it's not too difficult, but you might want to bring microspikes if you're visiting in winter as it can get slippery!
The view from Ooh Aah Point is unique on this list as it places you within the Grand Canyon, while many of the other viewpoints are along the rim. To get to the trail, pull off on Yaki Point Road and turn left when you see the sign for the South Kaibab Trail.
4. Mather Point
Being located right next to the official Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Mather Point is one of the most popular canyon viewpoints. You'll find it along Desert View Drive when heading west to the Grand Canyon Village. Here, you'll find a couple of large dedicated parking lots where you can leave your car for free.
Mather Point itself is a large, wide platform sitting atop an impressive rock formation. The vertical drop to the bottom of the Grand Canyon is a staggering 7119 feet (2170 m) deep and visitors will get some of the most impressive views northwards across the Granite Gorge.
Visible from this Grand Canyon lookout spot is Bright Angel Canyon and its neighboring prominences including the Isis Temple, Cheops Pyramid, and the Zoroaster Temple. You'll also see Demaray Point, Bradley Point, and Summer Butte from here.
In my opinion, Mather Point and the Visitor Center is a great place to start the Rim Trail. This is an easy, paved path spanning the rim and offers similar views of the Canyon, without bundling up with others at a viewpoint.
5. Yavapai Point
If you're going to walk the Rim Trail from Mather Point, I suggest heading west towards Yavapai Point, especially if you've already stopped at Ooh Aah Point or Yaki Point.
Yavapai Point is another very impressive viewpoint. But, that's not why I've included it in this list of the best Grand Canyon views.
The reason is that here, you'll find the Yavapai Geology Museum (Yavapai Observation Station). This is a small, indoor exhibition where visitors can learn all about the formation and geological history of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
It's also a great place to orientate yourself and be yet again blown away by the scale when you find out just how far the North Rim viewpoints are from this spot!
Alternatively, for those not too interested in walking the Rim Trail, there's a shuttle bus running from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center near Mather Point to Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum.
6. The Rim Trail
Okay, I've mentioned it a few times already. But, the truth is that the Rim Trail definitely deserves its own spot on this list of best views on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Rim Trail is a very long, 12.7 mile (20.4 km), mostly flat and paved track. It stretches all the way from the South Kaibab trailhead in the east, to Hermit's Rest in the west.
Along the path, you'll have incredible views of the Grand Canyon. Walking sections of this track is by far one of the best ways to experience the South Rim. There are also multiple named and unnamed vantage points where you can sit down, rest, and enjoy the spectacular views.
You can access this trail from multiple points, but there is less foot traffic on the eastern side. Dogs are also allowed on the Rim Trail, as long as they are leashed.
7. Bright Angel Trail
One of the most popular long hikes in the Grand Canyon for stunning views is the Bright Angel Trail. This long, steep trail begins just near the Grand Canyon Village and descends over 4300 feet to the base of the Colorado River.
Chances are, if you're visiting some of the other viewpoints on this list, you'll see the etched tracks of the Bright Angel Trail below. You might also spot some keen hikers or even a packing mule or two!
This track is quite steep, with an average grade of about 10%. The truth is if you want to immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon, taking the time to hike the Bright Angel Trail is definitely worth it. There are several turn-around points in the form of resthouses, including:
- Mile-and-a-half Resthouse: 1.6 mi
- Three-mile Resthouse: 3.1 mi
- Indian Garden: 4.9 mi
- River Resthouse: 8 mi
Optionally, for an overnight-hike experience, you could continue on from the Colorado River for another 1.9 miles along the River Trail, which leads to the Bright Angel Campground and Phantom Ranch.
8. Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour (From South Rim)
Would this list of the best Grand Canyon views really be complete without the absolute best view possible? Of course, you're not going to get a better vantage point of this Natural Wonder than from the sky!
If you're interested in making this a trip to remember, I highly recommend booking the Spirit Helicopter Tour. This is the best-reviewed and the most cost-effective helicopter experience departing from the South Rim.
What makes this particular experience so great is that the Spirit Tour gives you some of the best views, flying over the Painted Desert, Kaibab National Forest, and of best of all, the Dragon Corridor, which is the widest and the deepest part of the Grand Canyon!
Alternatively: If you're not yet in Flagstaff or at the South Rim, you can book Grand Canyon helicopter tours from the following locations:
9. Hopi Point
Making your way east from the Grand Canyon Village, you'll begin the world-renowned Hermit's Road Drive. This is a beautiful forested road following the rim to several vantage points and viewing areas.
One of the most impressive lookout points on Hermit's Road Drive is just 2 miles away at Hopi Point. This popular spot for a canyon overlook provides one of the first glimpses of the river to the west (five in total at Hopi Point) and amazing views of the canyon walls beside it.
Additionally, Hopi point offers some of the best Grand Canyon views for sunset due to its outstretched position. The sun lights up the canyon in a way you really need to see to believe!
As with most of the pull-over areas, there is adequate space for parking and even toilet facilities here.
10. Hermit's Road Drive
The historic Hermit's Road drive isn't exactly one particular viewpoint, but a scenic, historic drive featuring several vantage points you won't want to miss.
Hermit's Road Drive begins from the Grand Canyon Village and stretches all the way to Hermit's Rest, 7 miles (11.2 km) to the west. It's not a very long drive, but it is a little winding and closed to private vehicles during periods of heavy snowfall in Winter.
Along Hermit's Drive, you'll have the option to pull over at:
- Maricopa Point
- Powell Point
- Hopi Point
- Mohave Point
- The Abyss
- Monument Creek Vista
- Pima Point
- Hermit's Rest
Of course, several of these vantage points can get a little repetitive. If you're looking for the best Grand Canyon views on Hermit's Road Drive, I recommend stopping at Hopi Point, Pima Point, and of course Hermit's Rest.
If you're game, you'll find the steep and winding Hermit Trail at the end of this road. This long but scenic hike descends all the way down the Cathedral Stairs to Hermit Creek Campground and the Hermit Rapids on the Colorado River.
What About the Skywalk?
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is one of the newest tourist attractions for the canyon. It's a 2000 feet high glass platform hanging over sheer nothingness!
Unfortunately, the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk is not located near the South Rim. In fact, it's all the way over in Grand Canyon West, a whopping 241-mile drive away! Therefore, I haven't included it on this list of the best views, since it's not at the South Rim nor in the National Park.
However, if you are planning to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you're in luck as the Skywalk is only a 2.5-hour drive away. Note, you'll need to pay $50 just to get into the grounds and no less than $72 to actually go on the Skywalk glass platform.
In my opinion, it's a much better idea just to pay the $75 for a full day bus tour to the South Rim from Vegas. This way, you'll get a more authentic experience since the South Rim is easily the best place to see the Grand Canyon.
Where to Stay in Grand Canyon National Park
It's no secret that to truly take in the beauty of the Grand Canyon, you'll want to spend at least a couple of days here.
Luckily, there are some great accommodation options both within the National Park and just outside of it. Below I've given you a quick rundown of where to stay close to the canyon.
Stay in Grand Canyon Village: Bright Angel Lodge
Bright Angel Lodge is located within the Grand Canyon Village and is the most popular accommodation in the park. This historic lodge offers amazing cabin accommodation less than 100 feet from the South Rim! There are also three dining facilities on-site and rooms are very affordable considering the amazing location.
Premiere Lodging Just Outside Grand Canyon NP: Grand Canyon Squire Inn
Cable TV and great wifi are two things you probably wouldn't associate with a remote Arizona hotel. However, the Grand Canyon Squire Inn offers that and more, just a quick 10-minutes drive out of the park! This roadside Inn is one of the best places to stay near the park and is complete with a great onsite restaurant, a games room, and even a bowling alley for the family!
Glamping near the Grand Canyon: Wander Camp Grand Canyon
Ever wanted to try glamping? Why not check out this luxury tent accommodation located in a quiet, remote valley just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park, past the Grand Canyon Junction. This accommodation combines luxury with off-grid living. If you want to lay and watch the famous Arizona night sky and be away from it all but still enjoy a comfortable night's sleep, make sure to check out Wander Camp.
Things to Know About Chasing Views at the Grand Canyon
Before we get into this list of the best Grand Canyon views, here are some useful tips for visiting.
- Entry cost: Entry into Grand Canyon National Park is $30 per vehicle. Alternatively, you can purchase an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80. This is valid for all National Parks in the USA.
- Getting around: The Grand Canyon in huge! To see all the best viewpoints, you'll need your own car or join on a tour. Additionally, there are shuttle buses running between main sites and viewpoints like Mather Point (Grand Canyon Visitor Centre) and the Grand Canyon Village.
- The best value bus tour: If you're in Vegas, the best-rated and the most cost-effective way to see the Grand Canyon is to book a spot on the Las Vegas South Rim Bus Tour. This is insane value for a long, 14-15 hour trip. You'll visit some of the best viewpoints and must-see sites for only $75!
- The South Rim: The South Rim is what most consider to be the best place to visit. It's also the home of the Grand Canyon Village. The south side is open year-round, while the North Rim closes during the winter months.
- Microclimates: Due to the huge variation in altitudes, the Grand Canyon experiences its own microclimates. Expect extreme, and rapidly changing weather from blistering heat to unpredictable storms.
- You can take a helicopter trip from Las Vegas: Getting to the Grand Canyon is often the most difficult part about visiting. If you find yourself in Vegas, you can book an epic helicopter trip out there that also tours over the Hoover Dam.
- Private vehicles: The main roads with scenic vantage points at the Grand Canyon South rim are Desert View Road and Hermit Road. These are sealed, well-maintained roads open to Private Vehicles. If you don't have your own car, I recommend comparing prices on Rentalcars.com and DiscoverCars for the best deals in Southwest United States.
- Wild animals: Drive slowly in the Grand Canyon National Park. It's home to many deer and elk and they often cross the roads.
More Amazing Grand Canyon Views At the North Rim
While I hope that I've convinced you that the best views in the Grand Canyon can be found at the South Rim, there are some other points you could also check out.
This includes visiting the North Rim, which is the highest point of the Grand Canyon. The best views at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon include:
- Point Imperial
- Cape Royal
- Bright Angel Point
- Cape Final
- The Widforss Trail
Note that the North Rim is much more remote, and doesn't provide the same easy access as the South Rim.
More Photos from the Grand Canyon South Rim
Below are some more photos that I captured during my visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
More: US Travel & Road Trip Inspiration
That's a wrap for these detailed travel guide to finding the best views in the Grand Canyon. I hope you've dotted some down for your next visit to the South Rim!
While you're still here on my blog, make sure to check out some of my other travel guides. I've got some great content to inspire your Southwest Road Trip, with some useful guides and tips for the best places to stop!