Standing on the edge of a cliff, at 7,000+ feet and looking a mile into the Grand Canyon, at the iconic geologic landscape and resources ranging from 1,840 to 270 million years old offers visitors feelings of awe. As the Colorado River rushes through the park, a six million year evolution eroding the canyon to what it is today. So much rich history, it is hard to believe that the park only just marked the Centennial this year. If you didn’t get there this year, check out not-to-be-missed places I found and check them out next year, and you can say you visited the park in their 101st year!
Take a Walk
There are some really great paved trails to explore upon arriving at the South Rim. The Rim Trail in Grand Canyon Village offers shaded, flat walking trails with exquisite canyon views. With trailhead elevation at 6,820 feet, and varying approximately 200 feet, the trail stretches from Pipe Creek Vista west to Hermits Rest, a distance of approximately twelve miles. Between Pipe Creek Vista and Bright Angel Lodge, only a few short sections of the trail have grades that exceed accessibility standards. West of Bright Angel Lodge, the Rim Trail narrows and climbs the Bright Angel Fault to viewpoints along Hermit Road. Between Powell Point and Monument Creek Vista the trail is a 3-foot wide dirt trail. The section of the Rim Trail between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest is also known as the Hermit Road Greenway Trail.
Some of the best views I found were the ones that weren’t as popular but the most popular viewpoint, Mather Point is a wonderful place to catch the sunrise. I attempted to get there but missed it because I was speeding and got a ticket on my way to the GC. Yeah. Don’t speed kids. I used James Kiser’s Grand Canyon Guidebook to decide where to go since we arrived later than I had anticipated and wanted to make the most of our trip. I’d be reading it a full month before we left Pennsylvania. Yavapai Point was my all-time favorite view of the South Rim.
The Majestic Desert View Watchtower
The Desert View Watchtower was by-far my favorite part of exploration on the South Rim. Built in 1932 and designed by “architect of the southwest” Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, the watchtower was modeled from several structures of the ancestral Puebloan people of the Colorado Plateau and patterned after those found at Hovenweep and the Round Tower of Mesa Verde. From the Desert View Watchtower, you can see the Colorado River, the North Rim more than 10 miles away, and a panoramic view for well over 100 miles on a clear day.
There’s so much to discover, and I ventured to many other points including the North Rim. Check out my previous post about it here.