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Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

 


The Ultimate Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

 

Grand Canyon is an unmissable destination.

Follow this Grand Canyon one day itinerary that hits all the park highlights.

Make it fun, not frustrating!

 

 

The Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary Map

 

Grand Canyon One Day

Photo Credit: NPS

 

 

Outline of the Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

 

Part One

You are going to start the day with a hike along South Kaibab Trail, which is the top best hike in the Grand Canyon.

 

Marked as # 1 on the map.

 

Part Two

Next, you will traverse along Hermit Rest Road and stop at the best viewpoints along Hermit Rest Road.

 

Marked as # 2 through # 8 on the map.

You will stop at the following best viewpoints along Hermit Road:

  • # 2 Maricopa Point
  • # 3 Hopi Point
  • # 4 Mohave Point
  • # 5 The Abyss
  • # 6 Pima Point
  • # 7 Yavapi Point
  • # 8 Mather Point

 

Part Three

Finally, you will take Desert View Drive and hit all the best viewpoints.

 

Marked as # 9 through #11.

You will stop at the following best viewpoints along Desert View Drive:

  • # 9 Grandview Point
  • # 10 Moran Point
  • # 11 Desert View Point

 

 

 

Number One

South Kaibab Trail

 

If you can only do one hike at the Grand Canyon, then South Kaibab Trail is the top best choice! it is my top choice for the Grand Canyon one day itinerary!

Be prepared to be amazed by the sweeping views as you hike along a dramatic ridgeline. Above all, you will get to see the spectacular beauty of the Grand Canyon from blow the rim.

 

How to Get to South Kaibab Trailhead

 

South Kaibab Trail is located on the South Rim. Specifically, it begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road. Access to South Kaibab trailhead is by shuttle bus only. Consequently, no private vehicles are allowed.

 

Orange Route/Kaibab Rim Shuttle Bus

 

To start with, take the Orange Route/Kaibab Rim Route Shuttle Bus and get off at South Kaibab Trailhead. I usually park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and catch the shuttle from that location.

The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is a good place to get your bearings. There is a small cafe with food and beverages. And, there are clean restrooms as well.

If you need a map, then stop by the ranger station and get one. Above all, check if there are any weather warnings for the Canyon.

 

 

Hikers’ Express Shuttle Bus

 

Another option of getting to South Kaibab Trailhead is to take the Hikers’ Express Shuttle Bus. It is an early morning bus with service to South Kaibab Trailhead. I highly recommend it, since there is nothing better than watching the sunrise while descending into the canyon. It is simply a phenomenal experience.

Hiker’s Express Shuttle Bus departs from Bright Angel Lodge bus stop on the hour. The second stop is at Backcountry Information Center. The third stop is at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Finally, the last stop at South Kaibab Trailhead.

 

Bus leaves Bright Angel Lodge at:

7 am, 8 am, 9 am in March
6 am, 7 am, 8 am in April
5 am, 6 am, 7 am in May
4 am, 5 am, 6 am in June, July, August
5 am, 6 am, 7 am in September
6 am, 7 am, 8 am in October
7 am, 8 am, 9 am in November
8 am, 9 am in December, January, February

 

I highly recommend getting up early and taking Hiker’s Express Bus. I don’t think that there is anything better than watching the sunrise while descending into the canyon. It is simply a phenomenal experience.

 

Map of South Kaibab Trail

 

South Kaibab Trail Map

Photo Credit: NPS

 

How Long Is South Kaibab Trail

 

Majority of the hikers trek to Ooh-Aah Point or Cedar Ridge and back. Some hikers continue on to Skeleton Point. It is entirely up to you how far you want to hike. Given these points, following are the distances between each stopping point:

  • South Kaibab Trailhead to Ooh-Aah Point – .9 miles – distance one-way
  • Ooh-Aah Point to Cedar Ridge – .6 miles – distance one-way

 

How Long Does It Take to Hike South Kaibab Trail

 

It usually takes 2.5 to 4 hours to hike from South Kaibab Trailhead to Cedar Ridge and back.

Keep in mind, if it took you 2 hours to trek to Cedar Ridge, it might take you twice as long to cover that same ground on the way back.

Needless to say, hiking out of the canyon is tough. Furthermore, plan your hike according to your capabilities. Above all, hiking is not a race, take your time and immerse yourself in a beautiful scenery.

  • For example, to hike from South Kaibab Trailhead to Ooh-Aah Point will take you about 1-2 hours round-trip
  • Next, if you decide to continue to Cedar Ridge and back, it will be about  2-4 hours round-trip

 

What Is the Elevation Change on South Kaibab Trail

 

Hiking from the rim down is an opposite what a usual hike is for me.

With South Kaibab Trail, you start with a descent and finish with an ascent. I think that is why it could be so misleading and you might underestimate the time needed to get back to the rim. As a rule of thumb, if it took you about 1 hour to hike down to Ooh-Aah Point, then reserve about 2 hours to get back to the rim.

Following are elevation changes:

  • First of all, South Kaibab Trailhead sits at elevation of 7,260 feet. There is a 600-foot descent from South Kaibab Trailhead to Ooh-Aah Point.
  • Next, Ooh-Aah point is at the elevation of 6,660 feet and there is 540-foot descent from Ooh-Aah Point to Cedar Ridge.

Furthermore, while you are descending down the canyon, think about your physical capabilities and plan accordingly.

 

South Kaibab Trail – What You Need to Know

 

To start with, the trail begins with a series of switchbacks. Keep in mind , that the switchbacks are fairly steep in some places.

 

Grand Canyon One Day

 

Next, after the switchbacks, the trail levels off and starts to descend at a gradual pace. After .9 miles, you will reach Ooh-Aah Point.

 

Grand Canyon one day

 

Ooh-Aah Point

 

Ooh-Aah Point lives up to its name! As soon as you start checking out the views, I assure you that you will turn in one direction and declare “ooh” and then you will turn in the other direction and say “aah”. This spot has been very aptly named and the views are breathtaking.

 

South Kaibab Trail

 

By the way, it took me about 30 minutes to reach Ooh-Aah Point and about 45 minutes to ascend.

If you decide to continue, you will notice that the trail starts to run along an exposed ridgeline. In addition, the difficulty level intensifies at this point as the trail becomes a series of steps made out of logs and dirt. However, I think the views become more spectacular as you are descending. After .6 miles, you will reach the viewpoint at Cedar Ridge.

 

South Kaibab Trail

 

Cedar Ridge

 

Cedar Ridge offers incredible 360-degree sweeping views. It is a great spot to re-energize and re-fuel your body. In addition, it is a good turn-a-round place for the first time canyon hikers.

As soon as you are ready start your hike back to the rim. As I said before, hiking out of the canyon is tough. Take your time, take breaks, eat your snacks and drink water.

Once you get back to the rim, take the Orange Route/Kaibab Rim Route Shuttle Bus and get off at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

 

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Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

 

 

 

Hermit Rest Road

 

Next, you are going to explore the west side of the Grand Canyon South Rim 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. Hands down, you will love this part of the Grand Canyon one day itinerary!

 

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.

 

 

Number Two

Maricopa Point

 

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:

 

Looking north west from Maricopa Point

 

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.

 

Looking east from Maricopa Point

 

Number Three

Hopi Point

 

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.

 

 

Hopi Point

 

Stone Temples

 

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.

 

Number Four

Mohave Point

 

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.

 

Mohave Point

 

Number Five

The Abyss

 

If you are up for another walk then continue to the next stop called the Abyss. It is 1.1-mile walk from Mohave Point to the Abyss. Otherwise, hop on the shuttle bus and hop off at the next stop.
 
However, if you have time, then you should walk along this part of the rim. In my opinion, it is one of the most scenic segments along the rim. The trail sits very close to the edge of the canyon and you will be able to catch some great views all the way down to the canyon.
 
The Abyss lookout point is located on the very edge of the rim and gives you an almost vertical look down into the canyon below. In the distance you can see the Colorado River set against the backdrop of the layered rocks.
 
 
Grand Canyon South Rim
 
 

Number Six

Pima Point

 

The next stopping point is Pima Point. It might be a good idea to get onboard the shuttle bus. It is quite a walk from the Abyss to Pima Point. Specifically, it is 2.8 miles from the Abyss to Pima Point.
 
At Pima Point you will get one of the best views of the Grand Canyon South Rim and probably the most spectacular one of the Colorado River and rapids below. In addition, the views to the east are stunning.
 
Grand Canyon South Rim
 
 
You are done exploring the viewpoints along the west side.
 
At this point, hop on the Red Route/Hermit Rest Road Route shuttle bus eastbound and head back to Village Route Transfer stop. Once you get to Village Route Transfer stop, you can hop on the Blue Route/Village Route shuttle bus and get off at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Next, follow the signs for Yavapai Point.
 

Number Seven

Yavapai Point

 

Yavapai Point sits at the most northerly section of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Consequently, you will get the best view of the famous three points: Cape Royal, Wotans Throne, and Vishnu Temple. In addition, look down the gorge and onto the serpentine Colorado River.
 
 
Yavapai Point
 
 
Just a short walk from Yavapi Point is the next spot worth checking out. Namely, Mather Point.
 

Number Eight

Mather Point

 

Mather Point is the busiest viewpoint in the Grand Canyon South Rim. It is the highlight of the Grand Canyon one day itinerary!

All the tourists flock to this area. And justly so, 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.

 

Mather Point

 

 

Desert View Drive

Next, you are going to continue heading east.

There are no shuttle buses that operate in this section of the Grand Canyon South Rim. You are going to jump into your vehicle and drive east on Desert View Drive.

The first stop is Grandview Point.

 

Number Nine

Grandview Point

 

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.

 

Grandview Point

 

Number Ten

Moran Point

 

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.

 

Number Ten
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

 

Moran Point

 

Number Eleven

Desert View

 

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.

Perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon South Rim sits Desert View Watchtower.

 

Number Eleven
Desert View Watchtower was designed by Mary Colter. The tower 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.

 

Desert View

 

 

Pin it on your Pinterest board!

 

Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary

 

 

Now, I want to hear from you! Did you find this useful?

What else would you add to this list?

Are you planning the Grand Canyon one day itinerary? When are you going?

Leave me a quick comment in the comment section below!

 

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Comments:

44 thoughts on “The Ultimate Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary


2019-08-02

This was brilliant. We went to the Grand Canyon in 1999. No platforms to walk out on. It was Late February it was cold there was ice and snow everywhere. We went on a flight over the canyon it was amazing. Then the next day…I stayed in the car. My friend went on a walk down one of the many walks.. He only went so far. came back two hours later. His first words…you want the good news or the bad news…I said good news. He goes ” I’m back…the bad news is the i slipped on ice and the camera dropped…he said he was inches from falling down the side of the walk. He had slipped on black ice. So he turned around and came back up. Then he saw the sign… 12 people a year die here…dont let it be you.

    2019-08-04

    Thank you so much for your comment! Wow! What a scary experience! I am so glad it all ended with just a camera being lost and I am glad your friend was ok!

      2019-08-04

      It was gosh that was 20 years ago. I must have been a babe in my mothers arms lol. Yes scary but we or he lives to tell the tale.

2019-08-03

We visited Grand Canyon on a day trip from Vegas but I would love to go back and explore it some more. We love incorporating hiking into our travels and the South Kaibab Trail sounds perfect. I would love to hike to the Ooh-Aah Point and continue on towards Cedar Ridge. Will surely need to pace ourselves over the elevations and the ascent on the return but it does seem worth it given that the views from Cedar Ridge look so incredible. Thanks for sharing all these details.

    2019-08-04

    Hi Aditi,
    Thank you so much for your comment. South Kaibad Trail is one of my favorite trails in Grand Canyon. The views are spectacular.

2019-08-03

Oh wow! After reading your post and seeing all these amazing photos, I would love to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. It looks so out of this world. I have never been to the States yet, but if I do the Grand Canyon would definitely be on my list of places to visit. And this one day itinerary is so perfect for stunning views!

    2019-08-04

    Hi Joanna,
    Grand Canyon should be on your list of places to visit. It is hard to describe it and pictures do not do it enough justice. It is only when you see it, you realize the vastness of this place.
    Thank you for your comment!

jiweshsingh93gmailcom
2019-08-04

your writing skills are fantastic, Your writing has the ability to bind the reader till he reaches the last word. keep writing and keep creating. I am definitely adding canyon in my bucket list. Thank you for sharing such detailed post on canyon and specially all the visit point seperately.

    2019-08-04

    Thank you so much for your kind comment!

Jackie S.
2019-08-04

What a thorough one day itinerary of the Grand Canyon. The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, we stayed for a couple of hours and only managed to walk along the top of the ridge. I’m a huge fan of hiking and would love to try the South Kaibab Trail and to see the Ooh-Ah Point. It’s such a stunning view from your photo.

    2019-08-04

    Hi Jackie,
    Thank you for your comment. I am definitely recommending hiking in Grand Canyon. It gives you a different perspective of the place looking at it from the bottom up.

    2019-08-06

    Definitely, it is an ultimate guide to explore Grand Canyon at the fullest. Cedar ridge looks ultimate. Desert view point would be awesome choice to explore during the visit. I truly wish to visit this impressive place.

      2019-08-06

      Thank you for your comment!

2019-08-04

This place is probably the most impressive one I have ever seen in my life. It is completely mesmerising. I did the trip to the Grand Canyon by helicopter because I wanted to see the magnitude of this place. Totally amazing, but I have to go back. I would like to see it differently this time.

    2019-08-04

    Hi Esther!
    Thank you so much for your comment! Oh wow! I am so jealous… a helicopter tour must have been spectacular!

Laurence
2019-08-04

We went to south rim last year, and it’s spectacular. I haven’t seen the other rims, but I know It’s awesome too. As for us, we only have half day in the south rim, but yeah, definitely one day is enough for one rim.

    2019-08-04

    Hey Laurence,
    Thank you for your comment. I went to the north rim as well. It is only open during summertime. It is definitely more remote and less accessible, and it is easier to find some solitude.

2019-08-04

Great Canyon is everybody’s wishlist. But it is amazing that you listed all the major stopovers of this place and that too in one day. Ooh – Aah point is really Ooh Aah and the views from that point are truly amazing. I loved the shades of reddish brown from Hopi point. Thanks for sharing wonderful itinerary in one day.

    2019-08-04

    Thank you so much Yukti,
    Grand Canyon is definitely a bucket list experience.
    Thank you for your comment!

2019-08-04

Such a great hike! I love the scenery and how much you went into detail for each part and step. It’s excellent that you are reminding us several times to keep in mind our own limits, it helps to stay safe on a hike.

    2019-08-04

    Hi Mirela,
    Thank you for your comment. Hiking in the Grand Canyon, especially in the summertime, can be very tough. I have seen many people getting sick on the hike trying to make it back up to the rim. It is important to know your limits.

2019-08-04

Great Canyon is always in my bucket list and you have actually brought me there already! Thanks for the great insight and pictures. It will certainly prepare my trip there.

    2019-08-05

    Great! I am glad you found it useful.

diapersinparadise
2019-08-04

Wow, that is a busy day of hiking! I imagine it would be very challenging in the heat of summer, so thank you for your warnings. Your pictures are awesome, and it’s always great to find a detailed itinerary like this! I will make it to the Grand Canyon one of these days!

    2019-08-05

    Thank you for your comment! Grand Canyon is definitely worth the visit.

2019-08-04

We love Grand Canyon and we’ve been to all of these! However, we are slow movers, so we did it in 2 days. Well, not really 2 days, since the two times we went there we always arrived in the late afternoon and left in the morning after the second night. We came through Desert View entrance and stopped at all points on the way to the Village. The next day we explore the Village area and Hermit Rest, ending with sunset at Yaki Point. Our son also did the Junior Ranger here. The next morning we left after hiking to Ooh Aah Point. Oh, I love that point so much. I always tell people to hike there.

    2019-08-05

    Thank you Umiko for your comment! I totally agree with you that you need a few days to fully explore the place.

2019-08-05

The Grand Canyon has been on the list for a while, but never quite made it yet. Great to have a list of all the different places to collect and what to see and do there. I’d love to do some hiking in the area but I might need some preparation first!

    2019-08-05

    Hey Paul,
    Thank you for your comment! It is an amazing place. You should add it to your list of places to visit.

2019-08-05

I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but I’m always so amazed at the pictures and videos I see, the terrain and landscape is beautiful and colourful! I think your detailed itinerary is a must for anyone visiting!

    2019-08-05

    Thank you, Yeshi! If at all possible, add Grand Canyon to your list of places to visit. It is an amazing place.

Renata
2019-08-05

I really enjoyed this post and your wonderful pictures, however, I’m not sure how much I’d be able to enjoy the Grand Canyon on the spot since I’m so afraid of heights. Therefore, grand views rather scare me – it’s really bad’n’sad.

    2019-08-05

    Oh, that is really unfortunate! But, it’s ok! We are only human and we need to embrace our limitations.
    Thank you for your comment!

Dan
2019-08-05

That’s one great comprehensive guide for people that visit on a day trip. Personally, I would like to stay longer and take my time exploring but most people don’t have that luxury and this guide is great for people planning to take a day trip- you covered everything one needs to know before visiting

    2019-08-05

    Thank you for your comment Dan!

Visiting the Grand Canyon is really high up on my bucket list and I want to take my boys with me as it’s such as iconic place. I actually didn’t know where to start in terms of researching a trip there so this post has really help break that all down

Laura x

    2019-08-05

    Thank you for your comment!
    Great!
    Let me know if you have any questions.

2019-08-05

I had no idea there were so many aspects to the Grand Canyon. I’ve only ever seen the West Rim and Skywalk. Can’t wait to get back and see more of this amazing landscape!

    2019-08-06

    Thank you for your comment! It is definitely worth to visit and explore!

    2019-08-06

    Grand Canyon is worth a visit! Amazing place!

2019-11-07

It’s on my list, but I haven’t made it to the Grand Canyon yet. Your photos are spectacular and it’s one of those must do destinations that I will look forward to seeing.

    2019-11-11

    Hi Natalie,
    The Grand Canyon is awesome. You will not be disappointed!

Darla
2021-06-21

We are headed to the Grand Canyon in Sept. 2021. Frist time for me and my husband. We re celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. I love your advice thanks. Darla

    2021-06-22

    Hello Darla,
    Congratulations to you and your husband!
    What a beautiful location to celebrate 40 years together.
    Enjoy! Grand Canyon is breathtaking.

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