The Grand Canyon is on many people's bucket lists — for good reason. We all know it's stunning to look at, but here's the problem: given the Grand Canyon's immense size, where are the best spots to pull over and take in the views?
Our guide will direct you to 6 unmissable views, offer tips on the best trails, and show you where to capture those perfect sunset shots.
The Grand Canyon can feel overwhelming to plan for, but with some practical advice, you can make the most of your visit.
No need for fancy descriptions here — we'll leave the grandness to the Grand Canyon itself. Let's get started planning your adventure!
1. Hopi Point
Along the scenic Hermit Road, Hopi Point is a humbling trove for sunrise and sunset enthusiasts.
Extending further into the canyon than any other South Rim overlook, it reveals an east-west panorama.
From this vantage point, almost the entire canyon unfolds before your eyes, from Shiva Temple to the North Rim and the Great Scenic Divide.
The Colorado River makes five appearances from this point, adding a special touch to the panoramic canyon vistas. Here are some real-world tips that should come in handy when visiting Hopi Point:
- Avoid Hopi Point at sunrise or sunset during spring, summer, and holidays like Memorial Day, as it could get too congested.
- Expect holdups for the crowded sunset bus during peak season.
- Some areas lack safety railings. Supervise kids and prevent horseplay near cliffs.
- Hopi Point has the only restrooms between Bright Angel trailhead and Hermit's Rest.
- Bring extra clothing and flashlights for colder evenings and dark restroom trips.
- Winter access may be limited due to road and trail closures and icy conditions. Crampons may be necessary.
- Hopi Point is typically reachable via the park's free shuttle or a 2.5-mile walk along the Rim Trail for most of the year.
- Check out their free shuttle bus information.
2. Yaki Point
A less-traveled stop along the Grand Canyon trail, Yaki Point is your gateway to sunset and sunrise views of buttes and mesas of the South Rim.
This serene spot is accessible only by the free eastbound Kaibab/Rim Route (Orange) shuttle. As the canyon opens to the east, the Desert View Watchtower stands tall in the distance for a good photo opportunity.
Along the way, Reddit user UnsharpenedSwan recommends "hiking along the rim trail to get an overview and spectacular views."
3. Lipan Point
Lipan Point, a gem on the East Rim and Desert View Drive, is less crowded than some of South Rim's more popular spots.
With the longest perspective of the Colorado River and minimal light pollution, it's a haven for sunrise, sunset, and stargazing enthusiasts.
Besides overlooking views of the warm textured canyon walls, the Lipa Point also looks over the Unkar Delta — the seasonal home of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
One traveler praised the stunning sunset views, recommended by a photographer. It's advised to arrive early for parking, as the place can still get crowded at sunset.
For more sunset and sunrise views, read: 6 Most Stunning Sunrise and Sunset Spots in Yellowstone
4. South Kaibab Trail
A journey down the South Kaibab Trail shows the heart of the Grand Canyon's breathtaking wilderness.
Following open ridgelines, the trail provides panoramic views of the main gorge, making every step a picturesque experience.
Despite lacking protection from the summer heat and storms, the well-maintained trail offers both short and challenging hikes.
Just a safety sidenote: One traveler warns that this trail is difficult and requires a lot of hiking. If you are not used to high altitudes, you may have trouble breathing.
Another traveler shared that this trail's summer temperatures can reach 95°F and is not recommended for inexperienced hikers.
5. Grand Canyon North Rim
A quieter escape, the North Rim is a retreat for those looking to explore the Grand Canyon's wildlife-rich trails away from the crowds.
With Point Imperial as its highest overlook, you can gaze over Marble Canyon, the Painted Desert, and the Little Colorado River Gorge.
Travelers shared that along the way, Cape Royal Road offers stunning views of Wotan's Throne and the Vishnu Temple, but be prepared for summer thunderstorms and wildlife at sunset (bison, deer, fox, cows, and condors).
You should also keep posted on official schedules, as another user notes that North Rim Road closes for winter in mid-October and reopens in May.
6. Grand Canyon South Rim
The bustling hub of Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim epitomizes the Grand Canyon experience for many.
Open year-round, it offers an array of iconic trails like the Bright Angel and South Kaibab, historic buildings designed by Mary Colter, and various overlooks like Mather Point.
With easily accessible entrance stations and visitor amenities, it's a must-visit for anyone eager to see the Grand Canyon's views.
According to one former visitor, any time is a good time to visit the South Rim, but avoid extreme weather, including strong winds, by checking forecasts and visiting at sunrise or sunset to avoid crowds and harsh midday light.
Another traveler advised that for the best sunset and sunrise views in the park, stay overnight in one of the park lodges.
11 Tips, Tricks, and Visitor Information
When planning your visit to Grand Canyon National Park, knowing what options are available for transportation and guided tours is essential. Here's what you need to know:
1. Shuttle and Private Vehicles
As earlier mentioned, the park offers a free shuttle bus system on the North and South Rims. The shuttle runs from mid-May to mid-October and is the most convenient way to get around the park.
Private vehicles are also allowed on the roads, but parking can be limited during peak season.
If you're planning on driving your own vehicle, be sure to check the park's website for road closures and construction updates. The North Rim is closed during winter due to snow and ice, so plan accordingly.
2. Guided Tours
Consider taking a guided tour if you want a more in-depth park experience. Several tour companies offer a variety of tours, including hiking, rafting, and helicopter tours.
If you're interested in camping, the park has several campgrounds available for both tent and RV camping. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season.
For those who prefer more comfortable accommodations, the park has several lodges on the North and South Rims. These lodges offer a range of amenities, including restaurants, gift shops, and guided tours.
3. Arrive Early or Late
Many travelers recommend arriving at popular vistas like Hopi Point and Yaki Point either early or late afternoon to avoid crowds and witness stunning sunrises or sunsets.
4. Hydration and Sun Protection
Hiking the South Kaibab Trail or exploring viewpoints under the desert sun can be intense. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and bring a wide-brimmed hat to shield yourself from the sun's rays.
5. Footwear Matters
If you plan to hike the trails, invest in comfortable, sturdy hiking boots with good traction. The terrain can be uneven, and proper footwear is essential for safety.
6. Photography Tips
Capture the Grand Canyon's beauty using the "Golden Hours" of sunrise and sunset. Consider a wide-angle lens to capture the vastness, and don't forget extra batteries and memory cards.
7. Stay Safe on the Trails
If you venture down hiking trails like the South Kaibab, be cautious of steep drop-offs, stay on marked paths, and carry enough water and snacks.
Cell phone reception can be limited.
8. Lodging Reservations
Booking accommodations within or near the park well in advance is advisable, especially during peak seasons like holidays. This ensures a comfortable stay and easy access to the park.
9. Stargazing at Lipan Point
If you're interested in stargazing, Lipan Point is a favored spot. Its expansive views and lower light pollution make it an ideal location for observing the night sky.
Check out other national parks with stargazing spots here: Top 5 U.S. National Parks for Star Gazing
10. Leave No Trace
Respect the park's natural beauty by following the Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, stay on designated trails, and avoid disturbing wildlife.
11. Check for Updates
Before your visit, check the park's official website for updates on road conditions, trail closures, and weather forecasts. Conditions can change rapidly, so staying informed is crucial.
Embrace the Grand Adventure and Discover the Wonders of the Grand Canyon!
As you stand on the edge of this 2-billion-year-old wonder, remember that the Grand Canyon isn't just a destination; it's a journey that will create memories to last a lifetime.
Let the canyon's grandeur take your breath away, and may your adventure be as epic as this remarkable place.
So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to write your own Grand Canyon story. Happy travels!