Overview

Three hours from two major western cities, only an hour off I-40, and on just about everybody’s bucket list, the South Rim is as much a tourism mecca as it is a wilderness adventure.

Crowd Factor: 10/10

A trip to Disney World might better prepare first-time visitors for navigating the developed parts of Grand Canyon National Park than 10 years in Scouts.

Photo Credit: NPS

Peak Hours: 10a-5p

While hikers and shuttles start as early as 5am, sitting through a reasonable entrance line and finding parking is easy until at least 9am. Sometime between 930a-10a an overwhelming tsunami of visitors flood the park.

Navigating the South Rim

The South Entrance & the Purple Line

If you’re visiting for the day or staying in one of Tusayan’s hotels, do your best to enter the park's South Entrance by 9am. Otherwise, just park and ride the Purple Shuttle Line to the Visitor Center.

Photo Credit: NPS

Best Parking: The Main Visitor Center

While there are alternative lots, parking at the main Visitor Center is the simplest way to navigate the South Rim. Arrive before 830am for a stress-free experience.

Mather Point & Vista Crowds

This is a typical scene at Mather Point, the view point just behind the Visitor Center. Crowds will often grow far beyond this at most Grand Canyon Village vistas.

Photo Credit: NPS

Things to Do

Which is better: Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trail?

The South Rim offers two main trails into the canyon that start near Grand Canyon Village: South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail. If you only have time to hike one of them, there is a clear cut winner: South Kaibab Trail.

Lookouts in Grand Canyon Village are known for being extremely crowded during sunset. We've identified SIX less-crowded options with better views than Mather Point.

Best Sunset Vista Points

Mather's Alternatives

Peak Alternative - Easy: Hermit’s Rest Rim Trail - 6.0 mi

It’s not the most exciting sounding, but the Rim Trail between Bright Angel Trailhead and Hermit’s Rest is a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Peak Alternative - Extremely Difficult: Grandview Trail - 6.0+mi

Filled with phenomenal views, a rich history, and old mining ruins, Grandview offers great rewards to those who brave its treacherous path.

Best Day Hike: Sunrise Hike - South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point (6mi RT)

For those who are prepared and willing to start early, South Kaibab to Skeleton Point is the best reasonable day hike on the South Rim. No other trail can capture the romance, spectacle, or wonder of the Grand Canyon like a sunrise trek along this beautiful footpath.

5 Hikes That Mather

#1 South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

The best maintained day hike on the South Rim. Better views than Bright Angel and slightly less crowded. 

Distance: 6.0 Miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Peak Alternative: No, but to do this hike in the summer you'll need to early enough that you won't really see many other people until you're heading back up.
Best Start Time: Before 630AM during the summer. Park at The Main Visitor Center and take the Orange line to the trailhead.

Additional Mathers

Summer Hiking Hours: 5a-12p, 5p-9p

It doesn’t matter how much water you have, our bodies are not built for hours of strenuous activity in 100+ degree heat. You have to start early.

What if it Rains? 

Hiking during summer monsoons can be dangerous. Luckily, Grand Canyon Village actually has a lot to offer.

Mather's One-Day Itinerary

These times are based on summer daylight hours, typical temperatures, and crowd sizes. And remember: Early to bed, early to rise. A quality summer day at the Grand Canyon starts before dawn.

 

430am: Wake Up

520am: Park at Grand Canyon VC

530am: Kaibab Eastbound Shuttle to Kaibab Trailhead (this shuttle leaves precisely at 530a)

545am-10am: South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. (6.0 mi)

10am-1130am: Return to Car, Rest, Recover, Eat a Full Lunch.

1130am-1230pm: Shuttle to Bright Angel Trailhead

1230pm-430pm: Casual Rim Trail Hike to Hermit’s Rest (7.9 mi)

430p-530pm: Explore Hermit’s Rest. Eat Dinner at Hermit’s Rest Picnic Area

530-6pm: Return to Grand Canyon Village via Shuttle.

6-7pm: Explore Grand Canyon Village buildings.

7-9pm: Travel to an overlook of your choice and stake out a spot for sunset.

9pm: Pass out because you’re exhausted.

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© 2018 AllThatMathers.com

 

All content on this website is meant as limited advice for those looking for a more rewarding outdoors experience. Never use any content as replacement for any legal, logistical, or common sense limitations or safety issues. All That Mathers assumes no liability for any injury, harm, or inconvenience you may experience.

All That Mathers is not affiliated with the National Park Service.