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The Grand Canyon South Rim is essentially one grand viewing stand. If you were to unfold a map of the Grand Canyon South Rim, you are going to be totally overwhelmed with the viewing opportunities. However, following is a guide to the best viewpoints located along the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon South Rim Map
Let’s start with a map of the Grand Canyon South Rim. I marked the top 10 best viewpoints in the order that you will be visiting them. Specifically, you are going to start at Bright Angel Trailhead and take Hermit Rest Road.The directions on how to get to Hermit Rest Road and what shuttle bus to take are right below.
Following is the list of top 5 best viewpoints along Hermit Rest Road:
1. Maricopa Point
2. Hopi Point
3. Mohave Point
4. The Abyss
5. Pima Point
Next, you are going to hop on the shuttle bus and come back to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Here, you are going to walk up to 2 top best viewpoints. Following is the list:
6. Yavapai Point
7. Mather Point
Finally, you are going to take Desert View Drive (directions below) and stop by 3 top best viewpoints located along Desert View Drive. Following is the list:
8. Grandview Point
9. Moran Point
10. Desert View
Best View Points along Hermit Rest Road
The west side of the Grand Canyon South Rim can be explored by taking Hermit Rest Road. Needless to say, an absolutely breathtaking collection of some of the best Grand Canyon vistas above the rim can be found along Hermit Rest Road.
How to Get to Hermit Rest Road
If you are visiting between March 1 through November 30, you will need to take the Grand Canyon shuttle bus in order to get to Hermit Rest Road. Hermit Rest Road is closed to private vehicles during that time. The best option is to park near the Bright Angel Trailhead and then catch the Red Route/Hermit Rest Route shuttle bus from Village Route Transfer stop located near the Bright Angel Trailhead.
However, finding an empty parking spot at the Bright Angels Trailhead during the summer months can be very challenging. So instead of wasting time trying to find a parking spot, I am recommending that you park near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. It has plenty of parking spots. Next, from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center take the Blue Route/ Village Route shuttle bus westbound and get off at Hermit Rest Route Transfer. Lastly, transfer to the Red Route/Hermit Rest Route shuttle bus.
I realize that figuring out transportation can be the most frustrating part of any vacation, so I encourage you to take a look at my post about the Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus Service. It will all make more sense after you read it and look at the maps.
Read more about the Great Canyon Shuttle Bus Service in my post – Grand Canyon Shuttle Bus – Everything You Need to Know
The Red Route/Hermit Rest Road Route Shuttle Bus Map
Following is a map of the Red Route/Hermit Rest Road Route shuttle bus map. Hop on and hop off the shuttle buses while exploring the best viewpoints along Hermit Rest Road.
Maricopa Point # 1
Once you are on the shuttle bus, continue to Maricopa Point. Once you get to Maricopa Point, hop off the shuttle bus and take a short walk towards the viewpoint. The entire area is clearly marked.
Maricopa Point sits on a narrow promontory extending northeast and then dropping vertically. The vistas towards east and west of the canyon are excellent here. In addition, the views extend all the way to the North Rim. Following is the view from Maricopa Point looking towards the west side of the Grand Canyon South Rim:
Furthermore, following is the view from Maricopa Point looking towards the east side. If you look towards the bottom left side of the picture, you will be able to see an interesting rock formation aptly named the Battleship. California Condors have been known to nest on the Battleship.
Hopi Point # 2
Next, you have an option of jumping back on the shuttle bus and continuing to the next stop which is Hopi Point, or you can walk. I am recommending that you walk along the rim for a bit. It is .8 miles from Maricopa Point to Hopi Point.
In addition, on the way to Hopi Point, you will pass by Powell Point. If you can spare a few minutes at Powell Point, I encourage you to stop by and snap a few pictures. If you are short on time, then continue to Hopi Point.
Hopi Point is one of my personal favorites. It is one of the best all-around viewpoints in the Grand Canyon. Jutting out farther into the Canyon than any other point on the South Rim, Hopi Point offers incredible views. In addition, it is a great spot to come back to and watch the sunset. You will be able to catch all the reds, rusts and oranges of the canyon walls as the sun is setting down.
Moreover, Hopi Point offers excellent views of the stone “temples”. Temples, in this case, are rock formations rising from the depths of the canyon. If you look at the above photograph all the way to the horizon, you will be able to see the North Rim. Follow the North Rim up to the first indentation. This is Cape Royal. Cape Royal is a type of a temple formed when side-canyon erosion produces peninsula-like projection along the rim.
Afterwards, follow the horizon to the next temple. It is Wotan Throne. It was formed by erosion which transformed the peninsula into an island, and eventually, it was separated from the rim.
Finally, let your eyes wander to the last rock formation. It is called Vishnu Temple. Vishnu Temple was formed by further erosion, where the softer rock crumbles and undercuts harder rock.
Mohave Point # 3
The next viewpoint is called Mohave Point. You can hop back on the shuttle bus, or you can walk. It is a short 1-mile walk from Hopi Point to Mohave Point.
If you thought that Hopi Point was good, just wait till you get to Mohave Point. Not only you will catch the dramatic vistas here, but also you will be able to see some excellent views of the river and rapids below.
In addition, stretching out below the lookout is a rocky promontory known as the Alligator, as it twists toward the river beyond. To the northwest you can see Hermit Rapid, created when the side of the canyon collapsed into the river.
The Abyss # 4
Pima Point # 5
Yavapai Point # 6
Mather Point # 7
Mather Point is the busiest viewpoint in the Grand Canyon South Rim. However, it is one of the park’s most spectacular vantage points. The Colorado River is practically below your feet. To the west is Bright Angel Trail, to the east is the South Kaibab Trail, and straight ahead is the North Rim.
By the way, take another look at the South Kaibab Trail. It is one of the most visually stunning hikes in the Grand Canyon South Rim. I encourage you to take this hike and get a look at the Canyon below the rim. You can find out all the details in my blog post about the South Kaibab Trail.
Read more about the South Kaibab Trail: South Kaibab Trail – Top Best Grand Canyon Hike
Best Viewpoints along Desert View Drive
You are going to continue head east. There are no shuttle buses that operate in this section of the Grand Canyon South Rim. You are going to jump in your vehicle and drive east on Desert View Drive. The first stop is Grandview Point.
Grandview Point # 8
Grandview Point stands tall at 7,100 feet. It is one of the highest points on the Grand Canyon South Rim. In addition, it is the southernmost point on the canyon. The views are magnificent here. Grandview Point overlooks the dense forests and the Horseshoe Mesa.
By the way, Grandview Point is the start of Grandview Trail which leads to Horseshoe Mesa.
Moran Point # 9
Once you reach Moran Point and glance all around you, you will get a true sense of the vastness of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Furthermore, directly below Moran Point sits Red Canyon and the colors are just staggering here. The reds, oranges and rusts glow beautifully especially in the afternoon sun. To top it off, the sparkling Colorado River finally makes longer appearance.
Finally, try to find the Sinking Ship, a fascinating geological formation which appears as if it was a sinking vessel against the setting sun.
By the way, Moran Point is named after Thomas Moran, a painter who traveled to the Grand Canyon with John Wesley Powell in 1873. If you like Thomas Moran’s paintings following is a website with a recap of his life and work: Thomas Moran
Desert View # 10
Desert View is the highest viewpoint on the Grand Canyon South Rim with elevation of 7,438 feet. Consequently, Desert View offers sweeping views of the Grand Canyon South Rim and the Colorado River.
Desert View Watchtower
Perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon South Rim sits Desert View Watchtower. Designed by Mary Colter, Desert View Watchtower combines traditional Southwest architectural styles like Spanish Colonial, Mission, and Native American elements, which we call today Santa Fe style.
So, with not further delay, head to the tower. Inside you will find a spiral stairway which winds five stories high. Head straight to the top and as you are climbing the stairs look through many windows and see mile upon mile of magnificent views. By the way, the windows have reflectoscopes, which are viewing instruments that enhance the colors by using the black glass. Once you get to the top, check out the observation deck, which offers great views of the eastern part of the Grand Canyon South Rim.
Are you planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? If yes, then you need to start by reading my essential guide to the Grand Canyon South Rim.
Read more: Grand Canyon South Rim – The Essential Guide
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