south rimHERMITS REST ROAD

Hermit Road and Hermits Rest Grand Canyon

Hermit Road and Hermits Rest 

Hermit Road is the western-most scenic drive on the South Rim and here you will find the deepest views of the canyon, including glimpses of the Colorado River and historic Hermit’s Rest. Because the area is closed to private vehicles from March through September, the overlooks and trails are much quieter without the sounds of constant traffic in the background. The road itself closely parallels the canyon and you can get incredible views even if you stay inside your car of the park’s free shuttle buses. If you do that, however, you will miss out on seeing some of the best views that the canyon has to offer from the overlooks themselves including Hopi Point, Mohave Point and Pima Point. On a quiet day you can hear the rapids of the Colorado River below you and, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of an endangered California condor soaring overhead. Read the guide below to learn more.

Hermit Road and Hermits Rest

Hermit Road

A nice option that Hermit Road offers is combining riding the shuttle buses with walking portions of the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail gives you can even better view of the canyon as you walk from scenic viewpoint to scenic viewpoint and the trail is considered easy, with some portions of it paved as well. Bikers can also take advantage of the lack of traffic and the rolling nature of the road itself offers a fun but challenging 16-mile roundtrip bike ride that will surely be one of the most scenic bike rides of your life! If you didn’t bring your own bike to the park, you can seasonally rent them from Bright Angel Bicycles and then use their Hermit Road bike shuttle to see the highlights of what this area has to offer. Because Hermit Road is shuttle bus only most of the year, it is important to know that there are very limited services along the scenic drive so you much bring everything with you when you board the bus including food, water, sunscreen and battery power for your devices.

Sunset at Hopi Point has become a thing of legend and if you’d like to join the crowds to take in this iconic Grand Canyon sunset view, make sure you catch the bus plenty early so you can grab a good spot—getting in line for the Hermit Road shuttle bus 1.5-2 hours before sunset is usually the best bet during the busy summer season. If you would rather enjoy the sunset with relatively smaller crowds, Mohave Point and Pima Point are excellent options as well.

Hermits Rest

Hermits Rest is located at the end of Hermit Road and was built by architect Mary Jane Colter in 1914. The building was inspired by tales of the Grand Canyon “Hermit,” Louis Boucher, an early explorer who lived by himself for years inside the canyon. Colter’s building captures the rustic essence of what she imagined a miner’s cabin would look like and the size of the fireplace inside has to been seen to be believed. Today, the building houses a small gift shop and snack bar which are the only services available anywhere along Hermit Road. The nearby Hermit Trail descends down into the canyon and includes popular day hikes to Dripping Springs and Santa Maria Springs.

Hermit Road Shuttle Guide

Hermit Road Shuttle Route/Red Route

Arguably the South Rim's most popular shuttle bus route, this is the best shuttle route to take if you want to see some of Grand Canyon's most famous scenic vistas including Hopi Point, Pima Point and Hermits Rest. Not only does the Hermit Road skirt the edge of the canyon, giving you good views even from your seat, each shuttle bus stop also connects with the relatively flat Rim Trail giving you the option to wander along the rim at your own pace and get back on the bus when you're ready.

Hermit Road Shuttle Red Route

Pros

  • Takes you to some of the most famous views of Grand Canyon. While you can’t see the Colorado River from the majority of South Rim viewpoints, you do get great views of the river below you at many overlooks along the Hermit Road.
  • Connects with Rim Trail so you can get off the bus at any point and walk along the scenic Rim Trail until you decide to hop back on the bus. This is a great way to escape the crowds and take some truly amazing photos as you enjoy an easy walk!
  • Hermit Road is usually one of the best areas to spot endangered California condors soaring over Grand Canyon during the summer.
  • At the end of the route, you get to see one of Mary Jane Colter's most unique pieces of architecture on the South Rim--Hermit's Rest. The building was constructed by Colter in 1914 as her interpretation of what the famed 'Grand Canyon Hermit' Louis Boucher might have built for himself when he lived alone in the canyon below Hermit's Rest in the 1800's. The building was originally built as a rest stop for a short stage line from El Tovar Hotel and is constructed just feet from the canyon's edge and covered with an earthen mound. Undoubtedly, the oversized fireplace is the rustic building's most attention-grabbing feature and today you will find restrooms, a gift shop and snacks in addition to the incredible views.

Cons

  • You do not have the option to drive this route in your own vehicle so for travelers looking to escape the crowds and find some solitude, this shuttle bus route is not for you.
  • Because it is extremely difficult to park close the shuttle bus in Grand Canyon Village, most visitors take the Village/Blue Route shuttle to get to the Hermit Rest Route Transfer. This can take even more time and is confusing to some visitors who are not familiar with public transportation.
  • While this route takes you to some of the most famous views of Grand Canyon, it does take a lot of time to truly make it worth the shuttle trip. While the National Park website states that it takes 80 minutes round-trip, that time frame only applies if you do not get off the shuttle bus to take photos at the iconic overlooks or walk sections of the rim trail. For most park visitors, you should allow half a day to explore this area as it takes most visitors around 4 hours to see most everything the shuttle has to offer.
  • Being so popular, the shuttle can start to fill up as early as 10am from March-October. As such, you might have to wait for several buses before you can board, taking a serious chunk of time out of your Grand Canyon vacation. The busiest time of day for the Hermit Route is 1-2 hours before sunset as visitors line up to get to some of the most popular sunset viewpoints in the park.

GURU TIP:

To avoid long lines, arrive in the park before 10am or, do like the Guru does and walk from the Hermits Rest Route Transfer stop to Trailview Overlook where you will be able to board the first bus that arrives! Along the .7 mile all uphill hike (~4% grade) you will also have the opportunity to explore the incredible Kaibab limestone fossil beds that are found in the rocks scattered in the forest on the left/north side of the trail just a two-minute walk from the Hermits Rest Route Transfer stop. Look for fossils that resemble sea shells and coral since you are viewing fossils that were once living at the bottom of a warm, tropical ocean about 250 million years ago!

Bus Route Origin: The route begins at the Hermits Rest Route Transfer stop at the western end of Grand Canyon Village.

Where to Park: While the Hermit's Rest Route Transfer is only a short walk from any of the hotels in Grand Canyon Village, for those visitors who are not staying overnight, it can be next to impossible to find a place to park in Grand Canyon Village after 9am. If you would like to park close by, your best bet is to park at the Backcountry Information Center and walk to the Hermits Rest Route Transfer (~1 mile, one-way). If you don't want to deal with the headache of driving and finding parking in Grand Canyon Village, your other option is to take the Village/Blue Route from either Grand Canyon Visitor Center or anywhere else the Village Route stops. The Village/Blue Route connects to the Hermit Road/Red Route at the transfer.

Required or Optional?: This area is closed to private vehicles from March 1-November 30 so you must take the bus, walk along the Rim Trail or ride a bike to access the overlooks along Hermit Road during that time. From December 1-February 28, there is no shuttle running and private vehicles are allowed. Remember: the park does offer a Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit, which allow visitors with mobility issues to drive their own vehicle through some areas closed to public traffic. The permit is available, free of charge, at entrance gates and National Park Service visitor centers.

Shuttle Type: Scenic

Shuttle Highlights: The most popular sunset stops are Hopi and Pima Points. A less popular (but still beautiful) option is Mohave Point.

Hours of Operation/Shuttle Frequency

Every 30 minutes 4:30 - 6:30 am
Every 15 minutes 6:30 am to sunset
Every 30 minutes: sunset to one hour after sunset
Last bus 30 minutes after sunset.     

Total Time for Route: 80 minutes if you do not exit the bus; up to 4 hours if you get on and off the bus to take photos at the scenic overlooks.

Shuttle Season: Runs from March 1-November 30.

Price: Free

Access to Restrooms and Services Along the Route: The services along the Hermit Road are very limited so it is important for visitors to be prepared for up to 4 hours with limited access to restrooms, water and food; be prepared with your own snacks, water bottles, sunscreen and layers so you can truly enjoy your time among some of the best views of Grand Canyon. There are pit toilets at Hopi Point and Hermits Rest. The only drinking water along the route is at Hermits Rest where you can use the park’s free water bottle refill station or purchase water from the gift shop. You can purchase additional snacks or drinks at the Hermits Rest snack shop but there is no full meal service anywhere along the shuttle route.

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