Grand Canyon NP

The best Grand Canyon views at the South Rim

Grand Canyon National Park is one big bucket list destination. No matter how many photos and videos you’ve already seen of this geological marvel, seeing it in real life is an experience like no other. There is nothing like standing at the edge of the rim and admiring the spectacular size, breathtaking views, and dramatic colors. Especially if you visit for sunrise or sunset, you can see the colors change by the minute! The Grand Canyon is famous for dramatic views in every direction, but some viewpoints are just better than others. Discover the best Grand Canyon views at the South Rim, approved by yours truly. 😉

Mather Point

The best Grand Canyon views at the South Rim: Mather Point

Mather Point is one of the most popular viewpoints, especially for first-timers. It is a great introduction to the immensity of the Grand Canyon. We really recommend starting with this viewpoint to get that first feel of the beauty of the Grand Canyon!

It is only a short walk from the South Rim visitor center, where you can park your car for free for the day. Since it is one of the most popular viewpoints, it can get very busy here. Don’t let that stop you from admiring the expansive view of the Canyon. For only a small effort, you get rewarded big time! Mather Point is often considered the best spot to watch the sunrise, but not according to us! If you’re curious to find out what we think is the best sunrise spot, continue reading!

Yavapai Point

Yavapai Point

Just a short walk from Mather Point you’ll find Yavapai Point. This is the most northern viewpoint of the South Rim, and offers incredible panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. It is also a popular spot, but slightly less crowded from Mather Point. The 800m path from Mather Point to Yavapai Point is completely paved, so it’s really accessible!

It is one of the best spots if you’re looking for a super nice panoramic view! You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Plateau Point, Bright Angel Canyon, and the Isis Temple.

There’s also a free museum (Yavapai Geology Museum) where you can learn all about the rocks and composition of the Grand Canyon. They have a relief map, too! Also, if you’re visiting during the cold winter months, it’s the perfect place to beat the cold. The museum will be a warm place with a window wide enough to see Grand Canyon!

Since this is a really popular spot, you’ll encounter a lot of people. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can always stop somewhere between Mather Point and Yavapai Point to admire the view! These views are great as well and you don’t have to share your spot with others!

Hopi Point

The best Grand Canyon views at the South Rim: Hopi Point

Let’s get straight to the point: if we had to choose one favorite viewpoint, it would undoubtedly be Hopi Point. For us, it is one of the best all-around viewpoints in Grand Canyon! This viewpoint is amazing throughout the day, but for the most dramatic and breathtaking views we recommend visiting Hopi Point at sunrise. We cannot describe how magical the sunrise here was, you have to experience it for yourself! Seeing those colors change as the sun rises, we guarantee you won’t ever forget it.

Other than being the best spot to visit for sunrise, Hopi Point also offers some amazing views of several landmarks in the Canyon itself. First of all, you can get some great views of the Colorado River that divides large mesas in the distance. But the big star here can be found about 700m deep in the Canyon. Here you can get an amazing view of the Dana Butte, a 1,5 km prominence that really shapes the Canyon.

Keep in mind that most of the year you can’t access Hopi Point by car. You can either choose to hike 4 km along the Rim Trail or you can take the free shuttle bus service. To get to Hopi Point, make sure to get off at stop 4 of the red line (Hermit’s Rest). More on that later!

Mohave Point

Mohave point

Mohave Point is located just west of Hopi Point and is often referred to as the “alligator”. The “alligator” is a 1,7 km elevation summit, large ridgeline butte. This butte is connected to and below Mohave Point, and resembles (something of) an alligator. In addition to breathtaking views, you’ll also be able to see the Colorado River deep in the Canyon below. It is probably the best viewpoint if you’re looking for those amazing river views. Incredible to see!

To get there, you can choose to walk about 1 km along the Rim Trail. If you don’t fancy a walk, you can also take the free shuttle bus service to the next bus stop (stop 5).

Yaki Point

Yaki Point

Not on the red line but on the orange line you can find Yaki Point, which is located on Desert View Drive. This viewpoint offers incredible views that you can’t see from the other viewpoints mentioned before. At Yaki Point, you get to see different parts of the Grand Canyon, so it’s definitely worth a stop!

You can find lots of trailheads here. The first trailhead that can be found along the ridge to Yaki Point is the South Kaibab Trail. From here you can find multiple day (or even multi-day) hike options. It is a really good maintained dirt path that can take you to the popular Ooh Aah point. This almost 3 km roundtrip hike is something we really wanted to do, but unfortunately it started raining so we decided not to. It can get quite slippery and dangerous, so it was a wise decision not to go.

If you’re looking for an ever bigger adventure, follow it all the way to Skeleton Point which is an about 10 km roundtrip. For serious hikers this might only take a day, but if you’re less experienced this will most likely be a multi-day hike. A lot of hiking fun guaranteed at Yaki Point!

To reach Yaki Point, you’ll have to take the free shuttle service, which departs from the Visitor Center. It is the only viewpoint that is never accessible with a private vehicle. The shuttle stops right at the viewpoint, you don’t have to hike to get here.

Moran Point

Moran Point

The viewpoint that surprised us the most was Moran Point. This is a point that we literally stumbled upon when taking the Desert View Drive! We initially didn’t plan on visiting Moran Point, but Kelvin made a mistake while driving so we ended up here. 😉 Determined to make the most of it, we decided to take a look and we were so happy we did! When we visited there was no-one there, so it felt like we found a “hidden gem”. Not sure if it’s like this all year round, but we definitely recommend visiting this point if you’re looking for a more remote experience.

At Moran Point, you’re treated to far-reaching views that will not disappoint! We really liked how “different” the views were here compared to all the other points we visited. The formations, buttes, and look of the Canyon gave us a completely different vibe here than at other viewpoints! There’s a small section of the Colorado River visible from here, but it doesn’t compare to the river views you’ll get at Mohave Point. One landmark you can see from here is Coronado Butte, which blocks some of the cliffs in the West but still is amazing to see. You have to visit Moran Point if you’re looking for refreshing, amazing Grand Canyon views!

Pro tip
The entrance fee per vehicle for Grand Canyon is just over € 30. If you plan on visiting multiple national parks, we really recommend purchasing the America The Beautiful pass! For € 70, you get access to a lot of national parks, including Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and so many more!

How to get around

Generally speaking, there are 3 shuttle routes you can take when visiting the Grand Canyon. There’s the Village (blue) Route, the Kaibab Rim (orange) Route, and Hermits Rest (Red) Route. The first two are year-round shuttles, whilst the red route is only available between the first of March and November 30th. This also means that you can’t access the red route with a private vehicle during that period.

The Village Route

The Village Route is your connection between the Orange Route in the east, and the Red Route in the West. It’s also home to the Bright Angel’s trailhead, and it’s the route you have to take to reach the lodges, campgrounds, and Market Plaza.

The Red Route

The Red Route is the one with the most amount of viewpoints, and will take between 70 and 80 minutes for the whole round trip. That is, if you’re getting on the bus at the Village Transfer, and don’t leave the bus until you arrive back at that stop. It travels along an 11 km scenic drive that shows you some of the best Grand Canyon views! It’s the most popular route, so make sure to check the timetable well in advance! You really don’t want to be alone in the dark whilst having to walk all the way back to the Village. To avoid this, make sure to arrive no later than 30 minutes after sunset to make sure you get on the last bus!

The Orange Route

The Orange Route is the route you need in order to visit Yaki Point. It also gives access to Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and the South Kaibab Trailhead (among others). It starts near the Visitor’s Center, and takes about 50 minutes if you’re looking for a complete round trip. It’s less scenic than the Red Route, but necessary to get to Yaki Point (without hiking).

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