Arizona Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon South Rim Guide...

Your Trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the area frequented by most visitors. It is open 365 days a year, 7 days a week. Visitor services and facilities are open and available every day of the year (including holidays).

Grand Canyon National Park

Because of the area's popularity, reservations for camping and lodging are essential. When making reservations for lodging and camping, remember to identify the rim you plan on visiting. During the summer you will experience lots of traffic and parking can be hard to find. The least crowded time is November through February. But be prepared for winter weather if you plan a trip during these months.

The South Rim of Grand Canyon averages 7000 feet (2134 m) above sea level. Visitors with respiratory or heart problems may experience difficulties. Walking can be strenuous at this elevation.

Mail Order Publications

The Grand Canyon Association bookstore has a wide variety of publications that can be purchased online. They include trail guides, maps, videos, and packages that will help you plan your trip to Grand Canyon. For educational tours at Grand Canyon consider GCA's field seminar program the Grand Canyon Field Institute. GCA is a private, non-profit organization that operates bookstores in Grand Canyon National Park and has provided financial and programmatic support to the park service at Grand Canyon National Park since 1932.

Grand Canyon National Park is in a remote part of the country. Remember:

  • Bring an extra set of car keys; it could be a long wait for a locksmith.
  • Film is available at the South Rim, but the closest camera repair is in Flagstaff.
  • There is an automobile mechanic on the South Rim, but you may experience delays waiting for parts.
  • Distances are deceiving in this part of the country. It may look like you can visit three parks in one day, but reality is often different.
  • Keep your gas tank full. The next gas station may be quite a distance down the road.
  • Carry water in your car, particularly during summer months.

Climate

SUMMER
Summer temperatures on the South Rim, at 7000 feet (2134m) are relatively pleasant 50s-80s°F (10°-20°C). Thunderstorms frequently occur during July, August, and early September. Inner canyon temperatures are extreme. Daytime highs at the river, 5000 feet (1500m) below the rim, often exceed 105°F (40°C).

WINTER
Winter conditions on the South Rim can be extreme. Be prepared for snow, icy roads and trails, and possible road closures. Roads on the South Rim are plowed when needed. Canyon views may be temporarily obscured by fog during passing storms. Entrance fees are not refundable because of weather conditions.

SPRING AND FALL
Spring and fall weather is unpredictable. Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather at those times of year. May and October can be some of the driest months, although snowstorms may occur. Late April and May can be windy. Spring and fall can be the best times to be hiking in the canyon.

How to See the Canyon

Canyon View Information Plaza is the park's visitor facility. Here you will find the visitor center (Canyon View Center), a large bookstore, and ample restrooms, all within a short walk of Mather Point. Because this facility was designed as the terminus for a mass transit system that is not yet operating, you cannot drive to it. Park your car and ride the free shuttle or walk the short trail from Mather Point.

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. Hermit Road follows the rim for 8 miles/13 km west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermits Rest. Hermit Road is closed to private vehicles much of the year, but the park runs a free shuttle bus to provide transportation to overlooks.

A hiking trail, known as the Rim Trail, follows the rim from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest. The section of the Rim Trail between Pipe Creek Vista and Maricopa Point is paved, and mostly wheelchair accessible. Unpaved portions of the trail, between Maricopa Point and Hermits Rest, are narrow and close to the edge. Bicycles are not permitted on the Rim Trail.

Yavapai Observation Station at Yavapai Point offers panoramic views of the canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch. Yavapai Observation Station is open all year.

For viewing and photographing the canyon, the best light is early or late in the day. Mid-day sun tends to flatten the view and soften the colors. Remember that days are short in the winter and long in the summer. If you plan to see the canyon at sunrise or sunset, it is recommended that you be on the rim at least an hour before.

The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon, 5000 feet/1524 m below the rim. Because of the enormous depth of Grand Canyon, the river is visible only from certain viewpoints. It is a two-day hike to the river and back from the South Rim. It's a longer trip from the North Rim. It is possible to drive to the Colorado River at Lees Ferry (near Marble Canyon, Arizona), a 2.5 hour drive (one way) from the South Rim. Lees Ferry marks the official beginning of Grand Canyon.

Havasupai Indian Reservation

The Havasupai Indian Reservation is in a large tributary canyon on the south side of the Colorado River. This land lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of the National Park Service and is administered by the Havasupai Indian Tribe. The village of Supai is accessible only by foot (an 8-mile hike) or horseback. Hiking is by tribal permit only. Inquiries should be directed to Havasupai Tourist Enterprises, P.O. Box 160, Supai, AZ 86435. (928) 448-2121 or (928) 448-2141 for the tourist office, (928) 448-2111 for lodging.

Hualapai Indian Reservation

Grand Canyon West (located on the south side of the Colorado River) is managed by the Hualapai Tribe. The Hualapai Indian Reservation is located on the south side of the Colorado River. This land lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of the National Park Service and is administered by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. Inquiries should be directed to Hualapai Tribe, P.O. Box 538, Peach Springs, Arizona, 86434, (928) 769-2216. They can provide you with driving directions, as well as a rate structure for access to their lands along the rim.

What time is it?

Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time. We are on Mountain Standard Time year-round. The exception to this is the Navajo Reservation, in the northeast corner of the state. The reservation observes Daylight Saving Time and changes its time for 6 months of the year.

More About the Grand Canyon

Arizona Grand Canyon provides a complete description and travel guide to all parts of the canyon. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a more remote experience with less traffic and crowds, even in summer.

If you want to hit the trails, check out the guides for hiking and camping in the Grand Canyon.

The biggest thrill of all is river rafting in the Grand Canyon. You can spend from 3-21 days rafting the canyon. But you will need to make reservations well in advance.

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