Self-Guided Tour of Grand Canyon South Rim
THEPARKGUIDE has released our BETA tour of the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park! It is now exclusively available for download through the TravelStorys App for a $9.99 BETA price.
Buy it now: TravelStorys Purchase Page
The Canyon: 1 mile deep, 10 miles wide, and 277 miles long. “Grand” does not fully communicate the scale, colors, history, span of geological time, and sheer sense of awe that you will feel when you look over the edge.
The Tour: Includes all of the South Rim’s main roads, as well as the roads leading to it from the south and east park entrances. The tour gives you detailed information about views, stops, food, parking, services, hotels, campgrounds, trailheads and bathrooms! It includes the main Visitor Center, Yavapai Geology Museum, Verkamp’s Visitor Center, Kolb Studio, Backcountry Information Center and the Desert View Watchtower area. This tour also covers the bus route to Hermit’s Rest, so that you can listen to descriptions of the stops before you get there to decide if you want to get off and explore. As you drive, you will be encouraged to get out of your car and interact with the park to see the incredible canyon itself, the Colorado river, colorful geology, and historic buildings. There are rangers to ask questions, outdoor displays to read, and trails for every level of fitness. Go at your own pace, and see it all!
Driving: The roads give you excellent access to the views, trail and facilities along the rim, but there is also a 23 mile drive to the Desert View Watchtower that passes through a huge variety of habitats and ecosystems on the way to the nearly century-old Watchtower. The geology, plants and animals change along the way because of the change in altitude and the influence of the canyon on the weather patterns.
Things To Know:
- When is the park open? All year! The least crowded time is November through February. However, winter weather is a major consideration when planning a trip during these months.
- Planning is important: Check the Park’s Planning Page to get detailed information about how to start planning your trip.
- Time: Most people spend at least a day exploring the South Rim, but if you do not have that kind of time, there are helpful suggestions about what to see at the Visitor Center. It is a great place to start.
- Altitude: The South Rim roads and trails are at an average altitude of 7,000 feet (2134 m), be prepared to get tired easily and for the temperatures to cool off quickly in the evening.
- Distances: The main Village Area is 80 miles from Flagstaff, AZ, and 59 miles from Williams, Arizona. The Desert View Area is 25 miles from Cameron, AZ.
- Parking can be difficult, depending on the time of year. Arrive early in the morning; or if you are going to have lodging, get there the evening before you want to get out and explore.
- Cost: The normal park entrance fees apply. If you are going to visit more than two national parks this year, THEPARKGUIDE recommends that you purchase the Annual Pass, it is the best deal by far.
Amenities Along the Rim:
- Park Ranger Programs: These are one of the best sources of information and entertainment on the rim! Highly recommended, and there are several types available, from amphitheater presentations to guided walks.
- Food and lodging can be found along the rim at several locations, but reservations are difficult to get! Start looking at least a year in advance.
- Visitor Centers can all provide more information on specific points of interest. To find them, see the map.
- Mule Rides: area fantastic way to get into the canyon without risking over-exertion. The sure-footed and sweet-dispositioned mules have been up and down the trails many times. They are old-hands that you can trust.
- Raft Trips: Half-day and one-day raft trips on the Colorado River are available below Glen Canyon Dam. The trips are not offered during the winter months. Inquire at the front desk of any lodging in the park.
- Bicycling: Bicycling is a great way to experience the South Rim. Cyclists can enjoy approximately 13 miles (21 km) of roads and Greenway Trails that allow for more intimate explorations along the rim. If you get tired, load your bike or e-bike on one of the park’s bicycle-friendly shuttle buses – there is a bus stop every one-half to one-mile along the 13 mile trails system. Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads on the South Rim.
- Picnic areas may be found in many areas along the rim, including many along the Desert View Road.
- Gasoline is only available south of the park in Tusayan, AZ, and on the east side at the Desert View gas station, you may want to fill up on your way in.
Grand Canyon National Park – General Information: