The east rim drive is longer and less crowded than the south and west entrances to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive from Flagstaff passes through the Kaibab National Forest and the Painted Desert..
There are many overlooks accessible by car that offer spectacular views of the canyon. Desert View Drive (Highway 64) follows the canyon rim for 26 miles/42 km east of Grand Canyon Village to Desert View - the east entrance to the park. Desert View Drive is open to private vehicles throughout the year.
Like Tunnel Falls is to Yosemite and the eruption of Old Faithful to Yellowstone, the view off the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is just one of those things you need to see to get the proper appreciation of the Canyon. Maybe we have seen these things too often and become a bit underawed when we come face-to-face with the real thing. But make no mistake, there is a wonderous grandeur to behold here and you probably won't be alone in sharing it. That is where proper planning comes in. If you want to take the perfect picture and are only in the Park for half a day - well, you might get lucky, but then you might get hit with lightning, as well. Best pictures are taken early and late in the day. The midday heat and sun washes out the colors. You can get that idea from some of my pictures:-0 If you have the time to spend and dawdle, then you can amble along the Rim Trail - Mathers Point to Hermit Rest or just spend extra time at one of the many pull-outs along the East Rim Drive, watching the natural drama before you.
The East Rim Drive is about 24 miles running from the Grand Canyon Village over to the eastern entrance near the Desert Tower. There are many turnouts - Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point each with another aspect of the Canyon to observe. Yaki lets you peer into the inner Granite Gorge where the oldest part of the Canyon lies, some 1.7 billion years old. Grandview Point gives you exactly that, a Grand View. Cape Royal seems to float in the distance on the North Rim, impressive Horseshoe Mesa jutting up in front of you.
From the Grand Canyon Village, the West Rim Drive - 8 miles to Hermit's Rest - is accessible only by shuttle bus. Hopi Point is a highlight - set out on a jutting promontory where you can see up to 45 miles to the east and 45 to the west. It is a favorite place to take sunrise/sunset pictures. Other stops include Trail View and Maricopa Point which look back on the Grand Canyon Village and allow you to trace the length of the Bright Angel Trail from on high as it threads its way down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch, 8 miles away. You can also see the trench created by the Bright Angel Creek as it runs from the North Rim down to the Colorado.
Next, is Moran Point where you can look down on the fearsome Hance Rapids one mile below. At several turn-offs, trails disapear into the abyss below - from here it is the New Hance trail.