Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona

Things To Do

Overview | Map | Description | Things To Do | Camping/Lodging | Nearby

South Rim Hiking Trails
North Rim Hiking Trails
Points of Interest | Grand Canyon Adventure Tours

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is unique among national parks because, in addition to its natural geologic wonders and incredible wilderness resources, it is also a small town in itself, containing a multitude of hotels, restaurants, gift shops, various stores and a variety of services. Grand National Park is also huge! So many activities can take place at different locations and seasons. There are numerous activities available at the Grand Canyon, but most occur on the South Rim's Grand Canyon Village. They include:

 Hiking & Backpacking

 Vehicle Tours  Mule Rides
 Shuttle Tours  Helicopter & Air Tours
 Biking  Smooth-Water Rafting
 Fishing  Whitewater Rafting
 Horseback Riding  Archeology / Museum Tour
Motor Vehicle Tours

The Grand Canyon may be viewed from the rim at a number ofoverlooks along the East Rim Drive (26 miles from Grand Canyon Village to Desert View) and the West Rim Drive (9 miles from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest; closed to private vehicles from Memorial Day through September, when it may be accessed by free park shuttles). There are many overlooks accessible by car which offer spectacular views of the canyon. If you're a dedicated scenic driver, head to the South Rim while you have a chance.

East Rim Drive - Desert View Drive is a scenic route to the east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for 25 miles (40 km) out to the Desert View Watchtower and East Entrance. Along the way, six developed canyon viewpoints, four picnic areas, and five unmarked pullouts are accessible with private vehicles, in addition to the Tusayan Ruin and Museum. Click for Map

Yaki Point: Offers great views over the Canyon from South Kaibab Trailhead.
Grandview Point: Remains of an old mine on Horseshoe Mesa can be seen from here.
Moran Point: Named for Canyon booster Thomas Moran, offers views of Hance Canyon.
Desert View: Panoramic view the Vermillion Cliffs, Painted Desertb San Francisco Peaks ands the Coloprado River.

West Rim Drive

This follows the rim for 8 miles west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest. The West Rim Drive is closed to private automobiles from late May through September. At that time of year the park runs a free shuttle bus to provide transportation to overlooks on the West Rim Drive.

North Rim

The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher and considerably wetter than the South Rim. Because of snow, the North Rim is closed for most of the winter, between October and May. There are four main overlooks along the paved route of the North Rim developed area: Point Imperial, Cape Royal, Bright Angel Point and Point Sublime. For a real driving adventure, travel by dirt road to Tuweep Wilderness at the park's far western end. Read more about the North Rim here.

Taking a photo of the Grand Canyon

Special Activities

Grand Canyon Shuttle Service

Between Memorial Day and late September, enjoy a free shuttle ride through the Grand Canyon historic district. Hikers on the Rim Trail can board or exit the shuttle at any stop. Sights include:

  • Kolb Studio
  • Hopi House
  • Lookout Studio
  • Bright Angel Lodge
  • El Tovar
  • Santa Fe Railway Station


Bicycles are allowed on paved rim roads, secondary roads and some fire roads in the park. Bicyclists may also use West Rim Drive in summer, when it is closed to all but shuttle buses. There are no bicycle rentals available in or near the park. Numerous mountain biking trails are available in the Kaibab National Forest, primarily on the North Rim.


Record-sized game fish are now more abundant in the Colorado River of Grand Canyon, with Rainbow Trout becoming plentiful. In Arizona a fishing license is required and available at Babbitt's Store. Several concessionaires offer fishing trips.

Horseback Riding

Horseback rides are offered in Tusayan outside the park. Take a 2- or 4-hour ride through Kaibab National Forest or to the east Rim. Evening and wagon rides are also available.

Mule Rides

South Rim: Take a 1-day round trip to Plateau Point 3,200 feet below the rim or try a 2-day trip to Phantom Ranch and back (includes lodging and meals). Both leave from the Stone Corral at the head of Bright Angel Trail.

North Rim: Full- and half-day mule trips into the canyon from the North Rim are less crowded and easier to book. Offered daily when Grand Canyon Lodge is open.

Helicopter & Air Tours

Grand Canyon helicopter tours are offered by several air tour companies operating out of Tusayan. Usually 30- and 50-minute rides.

Smooth-Water Raft Trips

Spend 4 to 5 hours floating down the Colorado, upstream from the Grand Canyon. The 12-hour round trip departs by bus from Grand Canyon Village. It includes stops at East Rim Drive, Cameron Trading Post on the Navajo Reservation and a picnic lunch.

Rafts at the Grand Canyon

Whitewater Raft Trips

Numerous companies offer white-water rafting expeditions lasting from 3 days to 3 weeks. Most trips are offered April through October and embark upstream at Lees Ferry. For a list of companies contact the park's River Permits Office, 502-638-7843. Private river running trips require a permit -- the waiting list is 6 to 8 years long.

Read a DesertUSA correspondent's first-hand account of a rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon Gorge.

Archeological Tour - Museum & Ruins

The Tusayan Museum features exhibits of prehistoric Anasazi Indians and their decedants, the Hopi who still live on a reservation east of Grand Canyon National Park. Take a 1/4-mile trail through the ruins of a 12th-century Anasazi Pueblo leading from the museum. The museum is 23 miles east of Grand Canyon Village on East Rim Drive.

Overview | Map | Description | Things To Do | Camping/Lodging | Nearby

South Rim Hiking Trails
North Rim Hiking Trails
Points of Interest | Grand Canyon Adventure Tours


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms



Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The movie Stagecoach, in 1939 introduced two stars to the American public, John Wayne, and Monument Valley. Visiting Monument Valley gives you a spiritual and uplifting experience that few places on earth can duplicate. Take a look at this spectacular scenery in this DesertUSA video.

Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly NM offers the opportunity to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest Anasazi to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here today. Its primary attractions are ruins of Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 AD at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves.

Laughlin - Lake Mohave - Colorado River
In the summer, Katherine's Landing at the southern end of Lake Mohave is a hub of activity. It has fuel, a general store, a restaurant and a snack bar. The Colorado River south of the dam offers many recreational opportunities. Take a look at this river destination!


Take a look at our Animals index page to find information about all kinds of birds, snakes, mammals, spiders and more!

Hot temperatures in the desertAre you interested in the temperatures in the desert?

Click here to see current desert temperatures!

DesertUSA is a comprehensive resource about the North American deserts and Southwest destinations. Learn about desert biomes while you discover how desert plants and animals learn to adapt to the harsh desert environment. Find travel information about national parks, state parks, BLM land, and Southwest cities and towns located in or near the desert regions of the United States. Access maps and information about the Sonoran Desert, Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert.

Copyright © 1996-2020 and Digital West Media, Inc. - -