If you’ve ever seen the Grand Canyon on television or in a movie, chances are you’ve seen the South Rim. But seeing the Canyon on a screen, no matter how large or small (our best efforts notwithstanding), will ever compare to seeing the Grand Canyon in person.
Some of the best Grand Canyon views can be found at the South Rim. There are around 50 viewpoints along the South Rim, about 20 of which are easily accessible by vehicle. Each viewpoint has something special to offer, and knowing what’s what before you go can help you make the most of your visit and avoid unnecessary complications.
We’ve compiled a list of South Rim spots that offer the best views of the Grand Canyon, starting at the western-most point of Hermit’s Rest Road at remote Yuma Point and winding our way along the South Rim through the Grand Canyon Village to the iconic Desert View Watchtower at the eastern-most point of Desert View Drive.
Hermit's Rest Road
The Hermit’s Rest Road extends west out of the Grand Canyon Village. During peak tourism season (from March to November), only shuttle buses and vehicles with special permits may traverse this route.
If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon Village, hop on the red shuttle bus line to explore some of these viewpoints:
Yuma Point is very secluded, and it’s not accessible by shuttle bus. The Point is located about a one-day hike from the end of Hermit’s Rest Road, along a route that is suitable for expert hikers only. The terrain is rough, but the reward is worth it – Yuma Point presents some of the rawest, most natural views of the Grand Canyon.
Pima Point is the final stop on the red shuttle bus route. The Canyon edge at Pima Point is densely wooded and the main overlook is located at the end of a side Canyon, but with clear views of the Colorado River and over 40 miles of the Grand Canyon, it’s easy to understand why this viewpoint is a popular destination for Canyon visitors.
Pima Point also has a gift shop, bathrooms, and a café.
The Abyss is aptly named, featuring a sheer drop to the Tonto Platform about 3,000 feet below. Unlike other viewpoints, the Abyss is located along an indentation (rather than an abutment) along the Canyon walls. In addition to offering one of the best Grand Canyon views, you’ll also be treated to fantastic views of The Monument, the largest sandstone column in the Grand Canyon.
The Abyss is located about a one-mile walk from Mohave Point, or one stop more along the red shuttle bus route between Mohave and Pima Points.
See the 3,000 foot vertical cliffs that encircle The Abyss from an entirely new perspective at Mohave Point. Some say that Mohave Point offers the best view of the Grand Canyon sunset, and while this viewpoint is very popular for sunsets, it has multiple individual viewpoints and may feel less crowded than neighboring Hopi Point.
Hopi Point offers wide-ranging, unobstructed views of the Grand Canyon, which makes it an immensely popular place to view the sunset. Opposite Hopi Point on the North Rim, you’ll see several prominent mesas, including Isis Temple, Horus Temple, and Osiris Temple.
Maricopa Point forms a narrow promontory that extends about 100 feet from the Rim before dropping away below your feet, where you can take in 180 degree views of the Canyon all the way down to the Canyon floor.
Maricopa Point is the second stop on the red shuttle route, and it’s also easily accessible by foot if you want to hike along the Rim’s edge.
Grand Canyon Village
The Grand Canyon Village is full of activities and attractions for travellers of any age, and it’s a great central hub for your Grand Canyon adventure. While you explore the Grand Canyon Village, be sure to check out the Lookout Studio.
Located near Bright Angel Lodge and designed by Mary Coulter in 1914, the Lookout Studio is built right into the edge of the Grand Canyon and boasts panoramic views of the Canyon. This rustic studio contains a book store, and offers some of the best Grand Canyon views from within the Grand Canyon Village.
Desert View Drive
Desert View Drive extends east out of the Grand Canyon Village and continues for 26 miles all the way to the Desert View Watchtower. Make sure you check out these viewpoints along the way:
Easily accessible on the orange shuttle bus route, Yavapai Point is one of the most popular Grand Canyon viewpoints. With panoramic views all the way from Havasupai Point in the west to Desert View in the east, Yavapai point is the arguably the best view of the Grand Canyon, allowing you to see deep into the inner Canyon, including the Colorado River and even Phantom Ranch.
Explore the Yavapai Observation Station, which features geological displays and photographs, or watch hikers on the North Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails using one of the observation scopes located along the Rim.
At over 7,000 feet elevation, you can see almost ¼ of the entire Grand Canyon from a single viewpoint at Mather Point.
Named after Stephen Mather, the Grand Canyon National Park’s first superintendent, and accessible via the orange shuttle bus route, Mather Point is a popular destination for viewing the sunset along the Desert View Drive. You’ll also see iconic rock pinnacles like Vishnu Temple and the Temple of Zoroaster.
Experience unobstructed views of the east side of the Grand Canyon from Yaki Point, or for an even more spectacular view, head down the South Kaibab Trail to the nearby “Ooh Aah Point”.
Access to the Yaki Point Road and Kaibab Trail Parking Lot is closed to private vehicles during peak tourism season, but you can easily access these locations by hopping on the orange shuttle bus from the Grand Canyon Village. Yaki Point is the last stop on the orange shuttle bus route.
At just below 7,500 feet elevation, Grandview Point is the highest viewpoint along the South Rim.
Keep your eyes open for the trail to Grandview Point as you wind your way along Desert View Drive. The trail from Desert View Drive is narrow and sometimes steep, but you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views of Horseshoe Mesa and prominent buttes like Rama Shrine, Krishna Shrine, Vishnu Shrine, and the Shiva Temple.
Named after painter Thomas Moran, Moran Point is located directly south of Cape Royal on the North Rim. Enjoy views of the Red Canyon, and even down to the Canyon floor where you’ll see the famous Hakatai Rapids.
Moran Point is a beautiful place for viewing the sunset. Look for the “sinking ship” illusion, named for the shape of the shadows the rocks form when the sun sinks below the horizon.
Zuni Point is accessible by foot from a trail off the Desert View Road. The trail to Zuni Point, which is located between mile posts 257 and 258, is unmarked, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled. This “secret” viewpoint is located just yards from the road, and offers similar views of the Red Canyon as Moran Point, but with fewer people.
To reach Lipan Point, take a short spur road for about a mile north of Desert View Drive. You’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of the Grand Canyon, including the Grand Canyon Supergroup of sedimentary rock formations, the inner gorge, and the Colorado River winding its way through the Canyon thousands of feet below.
Desert View & the Desert View Watchtower
Located at the end of the Desert View Drive, the Desert View Watchtower was designed by Mary Coulter in 1932 to blend into the landscape. You can’t beat the view from the top of the tower; it’s only 85 steps to the top, and you’ll be treated to 360 degree views of the Grand Canyon.
Visiting the South Rim
There is no “best” view of the Grand Canyon—every viewpoint offers stunning vistas, and many of the most iconic viewpoints are easily accessible using the Grand Canyon National Park’s shuttle bus system.