A few days after our stay at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon our route took us to the much more crowded South Rim. Our plan all along had been to visit the North Rim, but we were passing so close it seemed crazy not to detour for another look at this amazing spectacle.
Perhaps because of those crowds, or because we had experienced such magic on the North Rim, or because we had allowed less time for this part; whatever the reason, the South Rim appealed to us rather less. Nevertheless we enjoyed some time following the driving tour along the rim, pausing at various viewpoints. These are as stunning as those on the North Rim, and more accessible, although in a few places the crowds of other visitors jostling for position to take their snapshot before climbing back into the tour bus made it harder to appreciate them. But I don’t want to knock it too much – if we hadn’t already been to the “other side” I’m sure we’d have been as blown away by the awesome sights here as we were there.
There is talk of one day restricting access for private vehicles – everyone would have to park in Tusayan, a couple of miles south of the entrance gate and proceed in an electric shuttle bus. This would be a great improvement in some ways, though it might reduce flexibility in planning your visit. Until this happens, the best way to avoid the crowds is to head for the viewpoints furthest from Grand Canyon Village, perhaps by following the East Rim Drive as we did. This route, also known as the Desert View Drive, has only occasional glimpses of the canyon, but there are several excellent viewpoints, of which the last, Desert View, is considered by some to be one of the best in the park. This is one of the few places on the South Rim from which the Colorado River can be seen, and views also extend out beyond the Canyon to the Painted Desert in the distance. The spot is marked by the Watchtower, a 20 meter high stone tower built in 1932.
Located west of Desert View is LIPAN POINT (7360 feet elevation) which boasts some of the most breathtaking views in the canyon.
Facing west and looking down,you will see Seventyfive mile creek, as it winds its way back towards the Colorado River. Look forward to take in the striking presence of Apollo and Solomon Temples and the Rama Shrine. Directly north - Temple Butte (5308 feet) and Chuar Butte (6394 feet).
One of the most visited and photographed points on the eastern edge of the South Rim, MORAN POINT (7160 feet elevation), offers far reaching views along a wide section of the Grand Canyon. To the west you can see Coronado Butte (7108 feet). Directly below Moran Point is Red Canyon.
Hans and I took many photos here as it is so beautiful and my favourite view. I still have a picture of Hans and his sister Nel with this wonderful view of the mighty Colorado River in the background.
The southernmost point on Grand Canyon's South Rim is GRANDVIEW POINT (7399 feet elevation) with views of Horseshoe Mesa (5238 feet ). It is reached by a one mile side road.
The cliffs at the rim are generally less steep, allowing for an easier trail to descend into the Canyon. Quite a few folks were venturing down this trail.
Located close to the main visitor station area, YAVAPAI POINT offers spectacular views of the inner Canyon, as well as the Colorado River and Bright Angel Canyon. It is the most northern point on the South Rim and the closest to the Colorado River.
While there, be sure to check out the Observation Station, where exhibits explain the geological process that formed the Canyon.
Entering the Park via the South Entrance Station, your first stop will be the Canyon overlook at Mather Point ( 7120 feet elevation).
MATHER POINT OVERLOOK was named for the National Park Services first director, Stephen T. Mather.
Here you can focus on some of the canyon's truly majestic features. Over 4,000 feet below is the Phantom Ranch, dating back to 1050 A.D. Accessible only by foot trail, Phantom Ranch sits near the only two trail bridges that cross the Colorado River within Grand Canyon for nearly 200 miles.
The last time Hans and I were at the Grand Canyon was in 1996 with Hans' sister and husband. My first look at Mather Point brought back the memories of a great trip with them
In my opinion the south rim has the best and most varied rim views. Of course if you are there in the summer you have to put up with the crowds but with a little initiative you can escape many of them. You can easily go down one of the trails for a short distance or walk between the Hermit's Rest shuttle stops. The west rim isn't in the national park and is very expensive to go onto the overlook plus there is a time limit on how long you can stay on it. I'm never been to the IMAX theater but it seems silly to watch a movie when you can see the real thing.
Fondest memory: On the North Rim I saw a triple rainbow over the canyon after a rain shower. Also the first time I hiked down to the Colorado River was something I will never forget.
Some friends and I were driving across the U.S. and it just happened to be later at night (maybe around 10 p.m.) when we arrived at the entrance to the Grand Canyon. On the website it says vehicle entrance fee is $20 to $25 but when we arrived there was no one at the station and we got in for free. This was in January so perhaps they are a little more lax due to the low season but it's worth a shot to skip the fee by driving in at night.
Fondest memory: At night the road was dark and quiet and we were the only car around. We stopped by this bridge where we tried to see who could throw rocks the farthest for about a 45 minutes. Not a single car passed us in all that time.
Look all the way down... & it's a long long way down!
At Granite Gorge (its deepest point), it plunges to a depth of 1 mile (1.6 km)! This is the SOUTH RIM.
Fondest memory: Colors, lines... just like an artist's palette. Isn't God the greatest creator & artist of this universe?
I'm beginning to sound like a priest or something... that's not what I meant to do.
So, shut up & just enjoy these views.
Feel the breeze...
Smell the air...
Hear the silence... (shut up, those loud tourists! Don't ask me what nationalities, please!)
Fondest memory: South Rim offers lots of great view points. Mather Point is very popular - even too popular for it´s always crowded, it´s everybody´s first stop. Explore the South Rim, hike the paths or visit the view points with the shuttle. Each stop is worth getting off the shuttle bus.
Visit the South Rim and all of the viewpoints along it! In fact, pull over at the first one you come to once you've entered the park! Well, you've read my intro, and the rest has to be self explanatory! ;) Visit the visitors center too.
Fondest memory: Hiking down into the canyon... and then hiking back up!
Go in the Spring before the crowds come and it gets too hot and then hike into the canyon. The perspective from inside the canyon is a totally different experience.
Fondest memory: The very first view of the canyon from Mather Point took my breath away!
We walked around the edge of the South Rim a lot. You can also take a little shuttle that stop at numerous vistas where you can get in and out to look at different views in a shorter time while covering a bigger portion of the canyon.
Fondest memory: Have you ever seen these wallpaper that reproduce nature scenes that you cover whole walls?
Depending on the amount of haze present in the canyon and the sheer distance from one edge to the other, the canyon view is almost seen through a diffuser or out of focus. You have to blink a few time, shake your head and look again. It's simply breathtaking!!!
Favorite thing: The South Rim is open all year round. The North Rim is open approximately mid May through mid October.