grand canyonSOUTH RIM

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon South Rim

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is one of the most visited places on earth.  The vast majority of people who visit Grand Canyon National Park make this there only stop, and for good reason.  Most visitors will agree the Canyons South Rim has the most expansive and dramatic vistas the park has to offer, and at 7,000 feet vacationers have 4 beautiful seasons to choose from. Grand Canyon Village, which is located on the South Rim, is the hub of this National Park's activities.  Approximately 1.5 hours from Flagstaff Arizona, Grand Canyon Village contains the vast majority of hotels and activities.  This part of the Park is open year-round, and is close to the major Grand Canyon Gateways of Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Williams, AZ.  

The South Rim is where it all started.  Miners, Conquistadors, and pioneers of all sorts have ventured here for ages.  Horse Drawn Buggies, Trains, and now automobiles flock to this destination to have their Grand Canyon Experience.  Activities at the South Rim range from Grand Canyon hiking to helicopter flights and hotels range from quaint cabins to 4-star lodging.  The summer season is the busiest time to visit the South Rim, but Spring and Fall have the best temperatures, and the Winter season has the most solitude. Read the guide below to learn more.

South Rim Destinations

Grand Canyon Village

Grand Canyon Village is located near the parks south entrance a few miles from the town of Tusayan, AZ.  The village is where all of the South Rim hotels are located, as well as Mather Campground, Market Plaza, the visitor center and backcountry office.  Learn more about Grand Canyon Village.

Hermit's Rest Road

Hermit's Rest Road traverses the South Rim to the west of Grand Canyon Village.  This scenic drive is only open to park shuttle buses and commercial tours from March 1st through November 30th.  There are many scenic vistas along the road, which also make it a nice ride for road bikes.  At the end of this 10-mile road is Hermit's Rest, which has a small gift and snack in a historic building that used to be a lodge, as well as trailhead for backcountry hikers heading into the canyon via the Hermit Trail.  Learn more about Hermits Rest Road.

Desert View Drive and Watchtower

The other area of the South Rim is known as Desert View Drive.  You can access this road by heading east from Grand Canyon Village, or by using the Desert View (East) entrance station.  Desert View Drive is open to all vehicles and offers many scenic pullouts, and several trailheads.  Tusayan Museum and Ruins is also located off this road and is the only major archeological site visitors can see on the Rim of the Canyon.  Near the East Entrance, is a first come first serve campground, the Desert View Watchtower, and several small stores, snack shops, gift shops, and a gas station.  Whichever area you choose to visit along the South Rim, you won't be disappointed. Learn more about Desert View.

South Rim Hotels, Activities and Services

Take a look at our list of Grand Canyon South Rim hotels, tour guides, activities, restaurants, shopping and services on our Map and Listing Guide at the bottom of this page or get even more detailed information by following the links below.

South Rim Shuttle Guide

The South Rim has four free shuttle routes that take you to all the major destinations on the South Rim in and around Grand Canyon Village. These are part of the Grand Canyon National Park shuttle bus system. Within the park, there are two scenic routes including the longer Hermits Rest Route (Red Route) which includes stops at some of the canyon's most famous overlooks including Pima and Hopi Points, and the Kaibab Rim Route (Orange Route) which drops hikers off at the South Kaibab Trail and also offers scenic views at Yaki Point and the Yavapai Geology Museum. In addition to the scenic shuttle routes, there are two additional shuttle routes that will take you to all of the services throughout Grand Canyon Village and in Tusayan, AZ (the small community located seven miles south of Grand Canyon's South Rim). The Village (Blue Route) takes park visitors to the restaurants, hotels, gift shops and visitor centers throughout Grand Canyon Village while the Tusayan (Purple Route) takes park visitors to and from the town of Tusayan, making staying outside of the park more convenient. Each of the four shuttle routes takes a different amount of time and each route offers different benefits to park visitors or features different scenic vistas--read more about each of the South Rim's shuttle bus routes to figure out which one is the best fit for you! 

The last South Rim shuttle bus route, the Hiker's Express, is designed to get hikers to the South Kaibab Trailhead as quickly as possible so they can beat the heat as they hike into Grand Canyon. The shuttle leaves early in the morning and stops at three only places before taking hikers directly to the trailhead without the need to transfer between shuttles.

South Rim Shuttle Bus Routes

  • Hermit Road Route/Red Route
  • Kaibab Rim Route/Orange Route
  • Village Route/Blue Route
  • Tusayan Route/Purple Route
  • Hikers’ Express

Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttle Bus Routes

South Rim Shuttle Guru Tips

  • Shuttle bus drivers can only load as many riders as will fit into designated seats at a shuttle bus routes' origin point; they cannot allow extra riders to stand in the aisles, even if you volunteer to do so. However, at every other stop on a shuttle bus route, drivers can accommodate standing riders. This can be used to your advantage if you are willing to walk to the next stop along a shuttle bus route if there is a very long line at a particular origin stop (which is common at the Hermits Rest Route Transfer and at Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza stops--please see those specific routes' sections for more information).
  • Buses can accommodate 2-3 large child or adult bicycles (16"+ wheels), giving you the option to enjoy a one-way bike ride followed by a free shuttle ride to get you back to where you started. It is important to know that shuttle buses cannot accommodate baby trailers, tag alongs or smaller children's bikes. You must load and unload your bikes from the rack at the front of the bus; the shuttle driver cannot do it for you.
  • All park shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible and are equipped with ramps and space to carry passengers in wheelchairs. However, wheelchairs larger than 30 inches wide by 48 inches long cannot be accommodated on shuttle buses and most motorized scooters will not fit. Because of this, 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.
  • The South Rim's most popular scenic route, Hermit Road Route, is seasonal and does not operate December 1-February 28. During that time you can use your own car to access the area instead, which some visitors prefer.
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South Rim Visitor Centers

Grand Canyon Visitor Center

Grand Canyon Visitor Center is the largest Grand Canyon visitor center on the South Rim and is the closest visitor center to the South Entrance station. One of the canyon's most famous overlooks, Mather Point, is a short five-minute walk from the visitor center. The visitor center features the official park film 'Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder' which plays every 30 minutes, free of charge. There are exhibits both inside and outside that will provide you with updated information about ranger programs, trail conditions, and the park's free shuttle buses. Park rangers are available inside to answer more specific trip-planning questions and to distribute Junior Ranger booklets and badges.

Grand Canyon Visitor Center shares an open-air plaza with the Grand Canyon Association's largest Park Store where you can buy books and a variety of canyon-themed gifts. Bright Angel Bicycles shares the plaza as well, where you can rent bicycles or take a guided bike tour (March-October) or buy a coffee or quick meal to go. The park's main shuttle bus plaza is located adjacent to Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Here you can catch the park's Blue/Village Route to access South Rim facilities and services (hotels, restaurants, general store, post office, etc.), Orange/Kaibab Route to access the South Kaibab Trail or scenic vistas, and Purple/Tusayan Route to travel into and out of the park's South Entrance without the hassle of driving and parking (summer only). From the visitor center, all Grand Canyon shuttles are free and run every 10-15 minutes during peak hours.

Grand Canyon Visitor Center: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center. It is located on South Entrance Road, five miles north of the South Entrance station.  
  • Parking: While it has the largest parking lot on the South Rim, the Grand Canyon Visitor Center parking lot will still fill up by 10am most of the year. You can also access the area via the shuttle bus or the Rim Trail.
  • Shuttle: Three shuttle bus lines begin and end at Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The Blue/Village Route will take you to the South Rim's hotels, restaurants, gift shops and museums, as well as connect you to the scenic Red/Hermit Road Route. The Orange/Kaibab Route is a scenic bus route that stops at South Kaibab Trail and scenic overlooks. The Purple/Tusayan Route travels to the town just outside the park's South Entrance where you will find hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and the Grand Canyon IMAX (fee is required if you are using the Purple/Tusayan Route to enter the park for the first time)
  • Hours:  Summer hours are 8am-6pm. Winter hours are 9am-5pm.

Verkamp's Visitor Center

Previously the home and curio shop of the Verkamp family for more than 100 years, the National Park Service renovated and reopened the building as a park visitor center in 2008. Featuring incredible views of the canyon, today you will find exhibits about the early history of Grand Canyon Village, a Grand Canyon Association Park Store, and park rangers to answer your questions. The visitor center is at the eastern edge of Grand Canyon Village and shares a parking lot with the El Tovar Hotel and Hopi House gift shop. If you plan to arrive by train, this is the closest visitor center to the historic Grand Canyon Railroad Station.

Verkamp's Visitor Center: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address:  Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center. It is located on the eastern end of the one-way Village Loop Drive. If you are driving, follow signs for the El Tovar Hotel. 
  • Parking: Parking is very limited in Grand Canyon Village and the very small parking lot adjacent to Verkamp's is also used by visitors staying at El Tovar Hotel. Rather than planning to park nearby, it is strongly recommended that you take the free park shuttle bus or walk along the paved Rim Trail.
  • Shuttle: Take the park's free Blue/Village Route to the Train Depot stop.
  • Hours: Open 8am-6pm.

Yavapai Geology Museum

Once an open-air museum, this visitor center showcases huge windows with perfect views of Grand Canyon's complex geology and beautiful sedimentary rock layers. Inside you will find educational geology exhibits and a Grand Canyon Association Park Store. The museum is located on South Entrance Road, less than a mile west of Grand Canyon Visitor Center and you can access the area via car, shuttle or the paved Rim Trail.

Yavapai Geology Museum: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center.  Located on South Entrance Road, halfway between Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Market Plaza.
  • Parking: There is a small parking lot adjacent to the visitor center but parking is not always available. Instead, it is recommended that you access the area using the park's free Orange/Kaibab Route shuttle bus or walk .7 miles west from Grand Canyon Visitor Center along the scenic, paved Rim Trail.
  • Shuttle: Take the park's free Orange/Kaibab Route to the Yavapai Geology Museum stop.
  • Hours: Open 8am-6pm.

Kolb Studio

The former home and photography studio of brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb, Kolb Studio still hangs over the edge of Grand Canyon offering incredible views of both the canyon and the Bright Angel Trail descending into the depths of the canyon below. The studio features rotating art and history exhibits and a Grand Canyon Association Park Store.

Kolb Studio: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center.  Located at the western end of Village Loop Road, the visitor center is on the Rim Trail near the Bright Angel Trailhead.
  • Parking: There is no parking lot adjacent to the visitor center so you will need to walk along the paved Rim Trail to access it.
  • Shuttle: It is recommended that you access the area using the park's free Blue/Village Route shuttle bus at either the Bright Angel Hotel stop or the Hermits Rest Route Transfer stop.
  • Hours: Open 8am-6pm.

Backcountry Information Center

Many people come to Grand Canyon to experience the hiking adventure of a lifetime and there is no better place to plan your Grand Canyon hiking trip than the Backcountry Information Center. The visitor center is easy to access and has a large parking lot with ample parking most of the year. Backcountry rangers will provide you with updated trail information, backcountry camping permits and general park information.

Backcountry Information Center: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center.  Located at the western end of Village Loop Road, the Backcountry Information Center is located next to the Maswick Lodge.
  • Parking: There is a large parking lot at the visitor center where you can both park for the day or leave you car if you are planning an overnight backcountry trip. Follow signs in Grand Canyon Village to the 'Backcountry Information Center.'
  • Shuttle: You can also access the area using the park's free Blue/Village Route shuttle bus at the Backcountry Information Center stop.
  • Hours: Open 8am-12pm, 1pm-5pm. Last backcountry permit is issued at 4:30pm.

National Geographic Visitor Center

Despite not being a Grand Canyon National Park visitor center, the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan, AZ is one of the most visited Grand Canyon destinations since it is also home to the 'Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets' IMAX movie. Playing on the half-hour throughout the day, the IMAX takes visitors on the adventure of a lifetime where you get to soar over the canyon and raft the Colorado River, all from the comfort of your seat. In addition to the IMAX movie, visitors will also find a unique range of gifts in the National Geographic gift shop and something for every palate in the Explorer's Cafe. Visitors can purchase pre-paid Grand Canyon entrance passes for faster access into the park and you can also book a variety of tours including Pink Jeep and helicopter tours. The visitor center is located just two miles south of the park's South Entrance station and has ample parking for personal vehicles, RVs, trailers and tour buses.

National Geographic Visitor Center: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address: 450 State Route 64, Tusayan, AZ 86023
  • Phone: (928) 638-2468
  • Parking: There is a very large parking lot at the visitor center which can accommodate large RVs and tour buses.
  • Shuttle: The visitor center has a Grand Canyon National Park Purple/Tusayan Route shuttle stop in front of it called 'IMAX.' This shuttle route is seasonal and only runs during peak summer months.
  • Hours: Visitor Center is open 8am-10pm from March 1-October 31. Open 9am-8pm November 1-February 28. IMAX film plays every hour on the half hour after the visitor center opens (e.g. 8:30am, 9:30am, 10:30am, etc.)

Desert View Watchtower Visitor Center

Desert View Watchtower is the closest visitor center for those entering the South Rim from the East Entrance, following Desert View Drive. Featuring a stunning vertical stone tower at the edge of the canyon, architect Mary Jane Colter's watchtower is an homage to similar Ancestral Puebloan towers found throughout the Southwest and is considered by many to be a photographic highlight of Grand Canyon. Inside the watchtower, visitors can ascend several flights of stairs to take in changing views of the canyon below, as well as the beautiful wall murals painted by acclaimed Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. Visitors will also find park rangers to answer questions and the Grand Canyon Association's Kiva Gift Shop inside the watchtower. The Watchtower Visitor Center is adjacent to the other services offered in the Desert View area including the Trading Post and Snack Bar, market, gas station and Desert View Campground.

Desert View Watchtower Visitor Center: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round.
  • Address:  Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center.  Located at the eastern end of Desert View Drive/Hwy 64E, the Desert View Watchtower Visitor Center is the first visitor center for visitors coming into the park through the East Entrance station.
  • Parking: There is a very large parking lot at the visitor center which rarely fills up completely. Follow park signs for 'Desert View.'
  • Shuttle: There is no shuttle service to Desert View.
  • Hours: Visitor Center is open 9am-5pm. Watchtower stairs are open 9am-4:30pm.

Tusayan Ruin and Museum

Three miles west of Desert View Watchtower, visitors come to the remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village known as the Tusayan Ruin. Once home to a thriving community that successfully farmed in the desert and created complex pottery and arrowheads, visitor can now tour through the area on short, paved trails to learn more about the early inhabitants of Grand Canyon. The adjacent museum features a small collection of artifacts that brings the pueblo to life and a Grand Canyon Association Park Store.

Tusayan Ruin and Museum: Hours, Address and Location

  • Season: Open year-round. Admission to the museum is free.
  • Address:  Like most Grand Canyon facilities, there is no official address for the visitor center.  Located three miles west of Desert View on Desert View Drive/Hwy 64, follow park signs for 'Tusayan Museum.'
  • Parking: There is a very small parking lot that cannot accommodate RVs, trailers or buses.
  • Shuttle: There is no shuttle service to Tusayan Ruin and Museum.
  • Hours: Visitor Center is open 9am-5pm.

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