The Grand Canyon is definitely an iconic bucket list destination. If you have been dreaming about visiting this park for a while, it definitely won’t disappoint. Even after the ‘hype’ surrounding the park, I wasn’t at all disappointed looking out into the horizon of the canyon below. Before I visited aside from the iconic landscape, I wasn’t exactly sure what there was available to do in the Grand Canyon. Turns out, there is some fantastic hikes & great areas to view the sunset.
My favourite four things to do in the Grand Canyon are as follows:
1. Hike the Rim Trail
Probably the most iconic view of the Grand Canyon is located along the Rim Trail. This trail is perfect for all ability levels as it is mostly paved and flat and does not require you to trek down into the Canyon. The trail starts from the South Kaibab Trailhead and ends at Hermits Rest. It is possible to access the Rim Trail from any viewpoint in the Village or along Hermit Road.
The entire Rim Trail stretches a distance of approximately thirteen miles (21 km). If you wish to walk the entire trail it would be necessary to break up the walk over a few days. In order to do this, you can make sure of the complimentary shuttle buses provided by the Park or there was good availability of car parking along most of the Rim. We completed the walk from the Visitor Centre & finishing at Yavapai Point, where there is a viewing deck. Walking at a slow pace and stopping to take pictures, this walk us a couple of hours to complete (round trip back to car parked at the Visitor Centre). This walk ends at the Yavapai Point and Geology Museum which provides a great view and interesting facts about the Canyon.
2. Watch the sunset at Yavapai Point or at Hermits Rest
At the end of a day full of exercise, it is very relaxing to kick back and watch the sun set across the Canyon. Yavapai Point or Hermits Rest are great places to watch the sunset. You can find out the exact time of sunset at the Yavapai Point and Geology Museum. The sun sets at around 6.30pm in March. To access Hermits Rest between March 1 – November 30 it is necessary to take the free shuttle bus from the Bright Angel Lodge as the Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles.
3. Hike the South Kaibab Trail
The South Kaibab Trail is a fantastic hike to get a more ‘up and personal’ view of the Canyon. It is quite a strenuous steep hike which requires a reasonable degree of physical ability. The South Kaibab Trail begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road. You can access the trailhead by catching the free shuttle bus (Kaibab Trail Route) or alternatively park at Pipe Creek Vista & walk the rim trail until you reach the South Kaibab Trailhead (Note: Yaki Point Road is closed to private vehicles). The best time to complete this walk is in mid Spring. The trail may be extremely icy and dangerous due to the sheer drop offs in winter or early spring and incredibly hot in the summer (with little shade provided on the trail).
The best part of this walk is that you can walk as far as as little as you desire into the Canyon. The South Kaibab Trail hike is up to 6 miles (round trip) to Skeleton Point. Despite it only being a short distance, it can take a considerable amount of time due to the steep hike into the Canyon. We decided to hike in the cooler part of the afternoon and complete a shorter 1.8 mile round trip to Ohhh Ahh Point. The trek to Ohhh Ahh Point was enough to make your legs burn but was definitely a worthwhile venture due to the magnificent views and a different perspective of the Canyon. It is necessary to note that the trail was a little on the scary side (due to the sheer drop offs) and probably not advisable for very small children who have a tendency to wander off. The trek to Ohhh Ahh Point took us approximately 2 hours to complete, stopping regularly for photo opportunities. If you only have time or want to do only one strenuous hike in the Grand Canyon, this would be the hike to select.
4. Hike the Bright Angel Trail
Another fantastic (although relatively strenuous) hike located in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the Bright Angel Trail. The trailhead is located just west of Bright Angel Lodge, left of the Grand Canyon visitor centre. Parking is available near the Bright Angel Lodge. You can hike as far as Plateau Point which is 12 miles and a very long all day venture. Many people advise to walk to the Indian Garden however, we choose to walk in the shade of the afternoon and just complete a shorter walk to the 2 Mile Switchback point. Similarly to the South Kaibab Trail, the best time to complete this walk is mid Spring. The trail may be extremely icy and dangerous due to the sheer drop offs in winter or early spring and incredibly hot in the summer (with little shade provided on the trail).