Go Explore: The Grand Canyon

We know what you might be thinking: the Grand Canyon? How cliché. Everyone has been there!

Give us a chance to explain. Yes, this is a very popular destination, particularly during the summer, but what about during the winter months? Not so much. Folks get scared off by the cold. Little do they know that the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round and is an amazing place to go explore.

Where to Kamp

There are only three campsites in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but thankfully, during the winter months, these places aren’t jam-packed! We recommend making reservations ahead of time just in case.

Mather Point Campground:

Located right outside of the Grand Canyon Village, there are plenty of lodges, shuttles and a visitor center nearby. This campground is so popular due to all of its nearby amenities. There are 500 campsites available and cost $18 per night. Animals are allowed as long as they are supervised and on a leash at all times.

Trailer Village:

This is the only RV park located in the South Rim. It has full hook-ups with paved sites up to 50 feet in length. Wanting to eat well on this trip? Don’t you fret! There are picnic tables, grills and electrical services available.

Desert View Campground:

If you are looking for a more secluded campground, this is your spot. There are only 50 campsites available and are located 26 miles from the hustle and bustle of the Grand Canyon Village. There are no RV hook-ups and the cost is $12 per night. Pets are allowed, but be sure to have them on a leash and under supervision at all time.

Overnight Mule Rides:

Looking for something out of the ordinary? Take a trip on the mule from Bright Angel Lodge and travel 10.5 miles to the floor of the canyon. After a long day of riding stay the night at Phantom Ranch in a log cabin before returning on the trail the next day. Overnight rides include accommodations and meals! Two-night trips are available as well.

Where to Explore

South Rim Lookout Points:

There are two types of viewpoints in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon—the Easy Access and the Take-a-Hike viewpoints. The Easy Access viewpoints speak for themselves… they are easily accessible, but to get the spectacular views, you would have to take a little hike.

  •      Easy Access Grand Canyon Viewpoints:

 Lookout Studio is the closest site to Bright Angel Lodge and has a panoramic view of the Canyon.

Yavapai Point gives a deep view into the inner canyon and a view of the Colorado River.

Mather Point provides a magnificent view of the rock pinnacles, named Vishnu Temple and Temple of Zoraster. Many visitors also suggest sticking around in the evening in order to view the magnificent sunset that stretches across the sky.

Moran Point is most famous for its sunset view because it gives off its “Sinking Ship” Illusion. The formation of the rocks creates the resemblance of a sinking ship as the sun lowers beneath them.

  •      Take-a-Hike Grand Canyon Viewpoints:

Grandview Point is one of the highest point of the South Rim. The trail does get narrow and steep, making it treacherous at times, but nothing compares to its view of Horseshoe Mesa.

  Zuni Point is one of the South Rim’s best kept secrets. There is no sign pointing to this trail, but it is located between mile post 257 and 258 where the rim is just yards from the road through the trees. Its views are similar to Moran Point if you are unable to locate it, but the isolation is its key attraction.

Yuma Point takes a day’s hike to get to. THIS TRAIL IS FOR EXPERTS! It’s very difficult and the terrain can be extremely dangerous, but the seclusion offered by this viewpoint gives you the true untouched vision of the Grand Canyon.

Historic Villages:

A lot of folks forget that the Grand Canyon has actually been inhabited and lived in since the late 1880’s. Yes, this isn’t technically camping, but there are definitely places you can’t miss in the historic village. If you’re looking to take a break from the great outdoors and grab your family and friends some awesome souvenirs, this is the place to do it!

  •      Hermit’s Rest was built in 1914 to look like an old miner’s cabin by the renowned Southwest architect, Mary Jane Colter. Snuggle up next to its giant fireplace and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Please be warned that Hermit’s Rest can only be visited by park shuttle and the road is closed to private vehicles.
  •      El Tovar was built in 1905 and has had many dignitaries pass through its doors, including: Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and even musical legend Paul McCartney. Take a walk in the footsteps of the famous and enjoy fine dining and accommodations.
  • Desert View Watchtower is the perfect way to get a 360-view of the South Rim. The 70-foot watchtower gives a clear view of the Painted Desert, the San Francisco Peak and Vermillion Cliffs. Is the 70-foot hike up turning you away? Don’t worry there is plenty to look on your way up. The staircases have been masterfully painted with murals by artist Frank Kabootie.

What To Do

Horseback Ride:

Saddle up and ride along the Rim via horseback. The Apache Stables even offers you a campfire meal for a truly Western experience during the horseback tour.

Bike Rentals:

There are many viewpoints and outlooks that cannot be accessed by car, but you can definitely bike to experience them. There is no other way to find the path less traveled than by trying it by bike!

Geology Museum:

Take a break to learn about the beautiful nature you are in! Hike to the Yavapai Geology Museum, located on the most spectacular viewpoints of the South Rim. You are guaranteed a lesson in geology by a Park Ranger and a look at the topographic relief model that gives a  better understanding of how the Grand Canyon evolved geologically.