Grand Canyon 1-Day South Rim Itinerary

Desert View Drive - 1 Day Grand Canyon South Rim Itinerary

Grand Canyon’s South Rim is best experienced from the park’s scenic Desert View Drive (Hwy 64). Driving this 26-mile long route will give you access to some of the canyon’s most famous overlooks including the Desert View Watchtower, Grandview Point, Mather Point and Grand Canyon Village, with convenience of driving your own vehicle. There are multiple options for short hikes throughout this self-guided itinerary that will get you to even better viewpoints if you’re willing to put in a little work to get there. This itinerary is best started from Flagstaff, Williams, or Tusayan, AZ and will take you from Desert View to Grand Canyon Village. Read the full one day itinerary below to learn more.

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Self-Guided Itinerary Details

Grand Canyon's South Rim:

The best locations to begin this trip from are Flagstaff, Williams, Tusayan or Grand Canyon Village (South Rim). Once you're on the road and ready to explore, you can begin this itinerary from either the South Entrance station and head toward Desert View or you can start at the East Entrance station and head toward Grand Canyon Village.

  • We’ll assume that you’re entering from the South Entrance where you will then follow signs and park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. A short walk will take you to the first breathtaking view of the canyon at Mather Point.
  • From there, you can either choose to walk along the easy, paved Rim Trail (.7 miles) or take the park’s free Orange/Kaibab shuttle bus to the Yavapai Geology Museum. Yavapai Geology Museum includes in-depth exhibits about how Grand Canyon formed, but most people just marvel at the view through the incredible windows that look right down at the bottom of the canyon. Looks closely and you’ll be able to spot two small glimpses of the Colorado River below you.
  • From the museum, hop onto the park’s free Orange/Kaibab shuttle bus and explore the other canyon overlooks including Pipe Creek Vista, South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point.
  • Hop back in your car and head east along Hwy 64/Desert View Drive. Keep a close eye on the mile makers and a little past mile marker 246 you’ll see a small dirt parking lot on the left side of the road with a locked metal gate that leads down an old dirt road. This is the unmarked trailhead to Shoshone Point, one of the best views of Grand Canyon and well worth the flat and east 2-mile hike that it requires. This is great place to escape the crowds and have a relaxing few minutes to yourself.
  • Once you’re done hiking, continue to drive east. Honestly, you’ll want to stop at all of the signed overlooks including Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point and Navajo Point. If you have enough time, you will also want to check out the Tusayan Ruins and Museum, where you’ll see the ancient stone ruins of the ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited Grand Canyon hundreds of years ago.
  • The last stop is at the world-famous Desert View Watchtower, perhaps architect Mary Jane Colter’s best masterpiece sitting at the edge if Grand Canyon. Soaring 70 feet above the canyon rim, you can ascend the watch tower stairs and enjoy incredible paintings by famous Hopi artist Fred Kabotie throughout the different levels. Standing at the top of the watch tower, you’ll look down at a large expanse of the Colorado River below you as well as a vast view of the Painted Desert and the Navajo Indian Reservation to the east. If you can time seeing the sunset at Desert View, you’ll certainly be glad that you did!
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