It’s no surprise that the most amazing part of a Grand Canyon trip is the viewpoints from which you can admire this unique natural formation with its rugged red landscape and intriguing geological history dating back millions of years.
Visiting the Grand Canyon is a bucket-list-worthy adventure that most people will only do once in a lifetime, so it needs to be as “grand” as possible. On our last trip, we spent days driving and hiking around to document the best Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoints for you.
There are plenty of fun Grand Canyon activities to enjoy, but hiking along the rim is one that every visitor does, and it ranks highest on the list of must-dos while you’re in the park. If you only have a few days, you’re going to have to plan your route so you can get around to all of these viewpoints.
Even though you might say “seen one, seen ’em all”, that’s not really true at the Grand Canyon. Even after seen dozens of viewpoints, we were still eager for more. We even went on a helicopter tour to see it from the top. It’s truly a mesmerizing place that you can’t get enough of.
The national park is home to some of the most magical viewpoints in the state of Arizona, and the South Rim is chock-full of them. These stunning Grand Canyon views are a big part of why it’s one of the best US national parks.
Planning your trip to Grand Canyon (South Rim)
Where to Stay in Grand Canyon (South Rim):
- Bright Angel Lodge And Cabins – ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor
- Maswik Lodge – ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor
Best Tours and Experiences in Grand Canyon (South Rim)
- Grand Canyon South Rim, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend Day Tour from Las Vegas – Visit 3 iconic destinations: south rim, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend.
- 3-Hour Off-Road Sunset Safari to Grand Canyon with Entrance Gate Detour – Escape the crowds and embrace the beauty of the Grand Canyon South Rim with this exclusive tour. Traverse scenic back roads in a comfortable 4WD safari vehicle,
- Grand Canyon Complete Tour from Sedona or Flagstaff – This captivating tour combines elements of ancient ruins, lava fields, majestic volcanoes, and breathtaking Grand Canyon vistas.
Where is the Grand Canyon?
The Grand Canyon is located about 75 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona and falls almost entirely within the state of Arizona, though very close to the Utah and Nevada borders. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the south rim visitor center from Flagstaff.
There are three main visitor centers for the Grand Canyon: the south rim, north rim, and west rim. Hover, the majority of visitors to the park arrive at the south rim. It’s the most accessible and has the most going on.
If you visit the south rim and want to also check out the others, it will be a 5-hour drive to get to the North Rim and a 4-hour drive to get to Grand Canyon West. Now you can see why usually visitors just go to one of these entrances.
Most of the Grand Canyon lies within Grand Canyon National Park and is managed by the National Park Service. However, Grand Canyon West is owned and run by the Hualapai Indians.
How Many Days to Spend
We recommend giving yourself plenty of time when you are at the Grand Canyon so you can visit all the viewpoints, do some hiking, maybe head down to the basin, do some whitewater rafting, and just enjoy this beautiful natural wonder.
- If you only want to see the spectacular views, and don’t have a lot of time, then one day will suffice.
- To cover the main attractions at the south rim and do a few hikes, two to three days is enough time.
- If you want to camp and hike and raft… then you’ll need five to seven days.
Grand Canyon South Rim Viewpoints You’ll Love
There are a few different parking areas and shuttles that you might take to get to these viewpoints. So I’ll lay them out below in the order in which you might visit them.
Typically visitors make their first stop at the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center, which is just about 5 minutes into the park from the gate. You’ll see large parking lots to your right. Park in lots 1, 3 or 4 and start walking up the path to your right, which will take you to Mather Point. This is the best first trail to tackle.
1. Mather Point
Located within a short walking distance from the official Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center, Mather Point is the most popular viewpoint on the south side of the park. It is generally the first overlook you’ll come across and also one of the best places to catch a sunrise in the South Rim.
Mather Point is an expansive rail-lined platform sitting more than 6,000 feet above the canyon floor. The overlook gives you sweeping views of the national park, and on a clear day, you can see over 30 miles to the east and a staggering 60 miles to the west.
From Mather Point, you can catch glimpses of popular landmarks such as Bright Angel Canyon, the Isis Temple, Bradley Point, as well as the Zoroaster Temple and Cheops Pyramid. The viewpoint is also less than a mile hike from the Yavapai Geology Museum and another scenic spot in the South Rim, Yavapai Point.
My suggestion would be to start walking along the trail here and plan to walk all the way to Yavapai Pont and back to your car. It will take about an hour.
2. Yavapai Point
As briefly touched on above, Yavapai Point is one of the most picturesque Grand Canyon lookout points in the South Rim. This scenic vantage point is accessible through about a mile trek from Mather Point and the amenities at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
There is limited parking at the Yavapai Geology Museum Parking Lot, so the short distance from the main visitor center comes in handy. Another interesting thing you’ll find at this scenic overlook is the Yavapai Observation Station on the edge of the canyon rim.
Inside the station, you can learn details about the geology of the rock layers and the history of the Grand Canyon. There are interpretive panels at the base of the panoramic windows, with photographs of each group of rocks. But perhaps the most intriguing display you’ll find in the station is a finely detailed topographic relief map of the canyon.
Hermit Road Route
Next you might choose to head to the Hermit Road Route. For this set of viewpoints, you can park at Parking Lot C or along the road by the Bright Angel Lodge.
Hermit Road can only be accessed by the free Hermit Road (Red Route) shuttle bus, on foot, or bicycle from March 1 to November 30. The rest of the year, you can drive yourself on the route. What we did was take the shuttle up to Maricopa Point, then we walked from there to Mohave Point, which is about an hour walk on pretty flat, mostly paved trails.
At that point we got back on the bus and rode to Pima Point, then we walked again to Hermit’s Rest, which was about another hour, also mostly flat.
3. Hopi Point
There are several reasons why Hopi Point is a viewpoint worth stopping at:
Hopi Point offers stunning panoramic views. From this viewpoint, you can see the vast expanse of the canyon, the colorful rock formations, and the winding Colorado River below.
Hopi Point is one of the best places to watch the sunset in the Grand Canyon. The colors of the canyon change as the sun sets, creating a breathtaking display of oranges, pinks, and purples. Many visitors come to Hopi Point specifically to watch the sunset and experience this natural wonder.
It’s also a great place to see wildlife. You might see animals such as mule deer, elk, and California condors, which are a rare and endangered species that can be found in the area.
It’s easily accessible by car or shuttle bus (depending on the time of year). There are also benches and picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy the view, as well as interpretive signs that provide information about the geology and history of the area.
4. Pima Point
One of the main reasons that Pima Point is a viewpoint worth stopping at is its unique location. It is situated on a promontory that extends out into the canyon, providing unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape. You can see for miles in every direction, taking in the vast expanse of the canyon and the colorful rock formations that make it so famous.
In addition to its location, Pima Point is also a popular spot for wildlife viewing. You might be able to see a variety of animals such as elk, mule deer, and California condors, which are a rare and endangered species that can be found in the area.
Finally, Pima Point has benches and picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy the view, and there are also interpretive signs that provide information about the geology and history of the area.
5. Hermits Rest
Located in the westernmost part of the South Rim, Hermits Rest is a unique viewpoint offering a bit of history, as well as great hiking and biking opportunities. This vantage point sits about six miles from Grand Canyon Village, and you can take the free public park shuttle along the red route to get here.
At Hermits Rest, you’ll find a historical stone-built structure constructed in 1914. It was built to look like an old miner’s cabin, so you’ll find a huge alcove-shaped firewire and front porch. The rest stop also offers a gift shop where you can get some souvenirs and a snack bar to grab a bite. Both these amenities operate from 9 am to 5 pm.
You’ll also find restrooms and a water bottle filling station outside the main building. Apart from the stunning west-end views you’ll get from Hermits Rest, you can also enjoy a trek down Hermits Trail.
Desert View Drive
Finally, the last route that you’ll want to do in order to see some spectacular viewpoints is the Desert View Drive. There is a shuttle that goes along this route, but it stops at the South Kaibab Trailhead and doesn’t go all the way out to Desert View Watchtower. For that reason, I would recommend you drive yourself out this route.
6. Ooh Aah Point
If you’re looking to enjoy the South Rim below the rim, but don’t want to take a long hike like the full South Kaibab Trail, definitely do the Ooh Aah Point trail. This short trek is only 1.8 miles long, and it takes you below the canyon rim for some unique views.
The out-and-back hike to Ooh Aah Point takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete and ends about 600 feet below the rim. I wouldn’t say that it’s “easy”, but it’s not that bad. It has a bunch of switchbacks down the steepest part of the trail, then it levels out for a steady decent to the point. The worst part is the way back up. Be sure to take plenty of water and sun protection.
You can get to this trail via the Kaibab Rim shuttle bus along the orange route or you can park along the Desert View Rd and walk in. You can’t park at the start of the trail.
If you’re looking to catch the sunrise at Ooh Aah Point (which is highly recommended), you can take the Hikers Express Shuttle. This early morning bus departs from Bright Angel Lodge and stops at two locations before reaching its last stop, the South Kaibab Trailhead.
7. Pipe Creek Vista
Pipe Creek Vista provides sweeping, dramatic views of Pipe Creek. Although it’s smaller than other South Rim lookouts, this scenic vista is quite popular. It’s the first pullout on the left when you drive east toward Desert View Drive.
You can also access this viewpoint via the public park shuttle, Kaibab Rim (also known as the orange route), which departs from the Grand Canyon Village. Pipe Creek Vista’s proximity to the village and Mather Point makes it a less crowded alternative.
There is parking along Desert View Drive. However, it’s quite limited and only accommodates a few cars. So it would be best to park your vehicle in the village and use the shuttle.
8. Grandview Point
As the name suggests, this Grand Canyon viewpoint boasts some of the most majestic views on the South Rim. The scenic overlook sits nearly halfway between the Grand Canyon Village and Desert View Point.
The Grandview is a fantastic vantage point offering panoramic views of the park from east to west. If you’re traveling toward the east side of the Grand Canyon, this viewpoint will give you the first glimpse of the Colorado River as it traverses through the canyon.
Some notable buttes you’ll also spot at the Grandview Point include the Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu Shrines, as well as Shiva Temple. It is also the starting point of the steepest hiking trail in the Grand Canyon – the Grandview Trail.
Tip: This is a popular viewpoint, so it can get crowded, but it compensates for that with its large parking lot.
9. Moran Point
Famous for its pizza slice-shaped platform and sweeping views of the canyon and the Colorado River, Moran Point is another scenic outlook you can find along Desert View Drive. The panoramic spot showcases ancient rock formations, a popular background for wedding photos.
You can find the Moran Point Parking Lot about a 15-minute drive from the Desert View Visitor Center. In the summer, you can use the park shuttle that runs along the purple route from the gateway community of Tusayan to access the park, particularly the South Rim.
To the west of Moran Point, you can spot the Coronado Butte, as well as southern cliffs and red ridges that stretch as far as Yaki Point. To the east, you’ll see Zuni Point, and directly below the Moran Point lookout, you’ll find the Red Canyon with its deep red-orange layered rocks.
10. Navajo Point
Navajo Point offers an overlook with the highest elevation in the South Rim. Standing at a whopping 7,461 feet above the canyon floor, Navajo Point offers sweeping views of the Grand Canyon West and the Colorado River winding below. You can even spot rafts floating on the river.
You’ll also get amazing views of the Desert View Watchtower from Navajo Point. You can access this viewpoint along Desert View Drive, a few miles from the East Entrance Station. Navajo Point also offers some of the most dramatic sunrises in the park. You’ll have to get up at around 4 am, but it’s definitely worth it.
The parking space here is also limited, so it’s best to get there as early as possible. You should also keep in mind that Navajo Point’s closest amenities are at the Desert View Visitor Center, which can get crowded.
11. Desert View Point & Watchtower
Desert View is where you’ll find one of the most stunning South Rim viewpoints in the Grand Canyon. Located approximately 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, this scenic overlook boasts an ice cream and coffee trading post, a deli to buy some snacks, as well as restrooms.
You’ll also find an expansive parking lot flanked by a gas station and the Visitor Center. But the most interesting thing you’ll come across here is the iconic Desert View Watchtower. Built in 1932, this 70-foot-tall stone watchtower can be seen from miles away from within the South Rim.
The tower offers great vantage points from its various windows and outlooks on different levels. Being the highest structure in the South Rim, this viewpoint offers incredible views of the national park and beyond. On a clear day, you can see as far as the kaleidoscopic Painted Desert.
Best Grand Canyon Viewpoints – South Rim | FAQs
If you need help planning your Grand Canyon National Park trip, have a look at these frequently asked questions about the scenic viewpoints located on the South Rim.
What Is the Best Scenic Drive South Rim Grand Canyon?
The best and only scenic drive in the South Rim is the Desert View Drive. This 23-mile-long stretch of road boasts numerous pullouts to vantage points like Moran Point and Grandview Point.
How Many Viewpoints Are on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon?
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has about 50 named viewpoints. These scenic sports sit along the rim and give unobstructed views of the gorge.
Which Is Prettier, the South Rim or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon?
While the North Rim has some of the best park views along the Cape Royal Scenic Road, the South Rim boasts a lower elevation that gives views of the walls of the opposite rim. The South Rim is also more user-friendly, giving you access to amenities at Grand Canyon Village.
What Is the Best Section of the South Rim Trail?
The best part of the South Rim Trail is the South Kaibab trailhead. Its proximity to amenities at Grand Canyon Village and other popular attractions in the park makes it more accessible than other trails. The South Kaibab Trail also gives you easy access to scenic viewpoints like Yaki Point and Duck on a Rock Viewpoint.
Grand Canyon Best Viewpoints at the South Rim | Wrapped Up
There you have it, ten of the most stunning Grand Canyon South Rim lookout points that you should visit. These picturesque viewpoints make the South Rim arguably the best part of the national park to visit, especially for first-time visitors.
You can enjoy seeing the Grand Canyon and its rugged landscape from various viewpoints. Landmarks like the Colorado River winding through the gorge and rustic structures like the Desert View Watchtower and the miner cabin at Hermits Rest add to the scenery.
Grand Canyon viewpoints in the South Rim are among the most frequently visited in the park, and it’s easy to see why. So, while many still debate the North Rim vs. South Rim question, this list of breathtaking vantage points should help you make a more informed decision.
Be Prepared For Travel
Planning is the most important part of any successful trip. Do it the easy way:
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.