Complete Grand Canyon Guide, The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Guide

mather point

When you see the Grand Canyon on screen, chances are you’re seeing the South Rim. As the most highly developed Grand Canyon destination, with numerous hotels, restaurants, and attractions, as well as a network of shuttle buses, it’s no wonder the South Rim attracts the majority of adventurers – nearly 5 million visitors explore the South Rim’s many iconic viewpoints every year!

Weather at the South Rim

Average Summer Temperature
Low 70s-mid 80s

Average Winter Temperature
Low-mid 40s

7,000 feet

The South Rim experiences four distinct seasons, including a warm, dry summer and a “monsoon season” that lasts from mid-June to mid-September. Don’t worry – because Arizona gets less than 10 inches of rain per year, a “monsoon” only consists of 2-3 inches of rainfall! Afternoon storms are common in July and August, but are often just wind and lighting instead of rain. If it is rainy, there are lots of sights and activities in the Grand Canyon Village!

Sights To See at the South Rim

The South Rim features nearly two dozen viewpoints, many of which let you see all the way down to the Canyon floor.

Here are some of the most popular viewpoints:

  • Desert View: The Desert View Watchtower (above right), an amazing lookout point located 25 miles northeast of the Grand Canyon Village, boasts visibility of over 100 miles on a clear day
  • Pima Point: Pima Point is the final stop on the red shuttle bus route. The main overlook is located at the end of a side canyon, and offers clear views of the Colorado River and over 40 miles of the Grand Canyon.
  • Mohave Point: This viewpoint is especially popular at sunset. With multiple individual viewpoints, you won’t have to fight to take that perfect sunset #canyonselfie!
  • Hopi Point: With wide-ranging, unobstructed views of the Grand Canyon, Hopi Point is another popular place to watch the sun set behind the Canyon walls.
  • Yavapai Point: Accessible via the orange shuttle bus route, Yavapai Point offers panoramic views all the way from Havasupai Point in the west to Desert View in the east. Yavapai Point is the best place to see all the way into the inner Canyon.
  • Mather Point: You can see nearly ¼ of the entire Grand Canyon from Mather Point!
  • Yaki Point (bottom right): Take in unobstructed views of the east side of the Grand Canyon, and head down the South Kaibab Trail to the nearby “Ooh Aah Point”.

desert view watchtower grand canyon south
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr.
yaki point
Image Source: Jon Sullivan via Pixnio.

A trip to the South Rim isn’t complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon Village. The Grand Canyon Village contains many of the Grand Canyon’s most iconic buildings and landmarks – in fact, it’s home to so many famous structures that it’s officially considered a National History Landmark District! Learn more about some of the most famous landmarks in our blog post on exploring the Grand Canyon Village.

The South Rim is also home to Bright Angel Trail (not to be confused with Bright Angel Point at the North Rim), which offers a perfect single-day hike for hikers. The trail is 7 miles long each direction, so hikers should not plan on completing the entire trail in a single day. Instead, there are markers every 1.5 miles along the trail, so adventurous travelers looking for a single-day hike can turn around and return to the trailhead whenever they please.

Tourism at the South Rim

Development of the South Rim region began in 1905 and continues to this day. The area known as the Grand Canyon Village, seen at right, is now home to several hotels, restaurants, gift shops, museums, and other services, making the South Rim a perfect option for families. The nearby town of Tusayan also offers an IMAXtheater, as well as more hotels, restaurants, and Grand Canyon tour options.

The Grand Canyon Airport is also located in the town of Tusayan, only 7 miles from the South Rim and 2 miles from the park entrance. The airport currently has one runway and is served by three airlines, receiving flights from the North Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Henderson, NV airports. The airport also supports several local tour operators, including a variety of Grand Canyon airplane and helicopter tours.

Once you’re in the National Park, transportation is free and reliable. A network of shuttle buses runs between many of the most iconic viewpoints year-round. Shuttle bus stops are clearly marked and do not require tickets. Simply hop on and hop off!

The South Rim is managed by the National Park Service. Admission costs $30 for a single vehicle, and is good for 7 days at both the South and North Rims. The Park is open 24 hours a day year round, which makes it a perfect option for stargazers and sunrise or sunset enthusiasts.

South Rim Shuttle Routes

Hermit's Rest Route (Red)

The western-most route. This route spans 7 miles along the South Rim to Hermits Rest and operates from March to November.

Village Route (Blue)

Connects South Rim Visitor Centers, lodging, restaurants, gift shops, and campgrounds, with views only a short walk from bus stops. Operates year-round

Kaibab/Rim Route (Orange)

A figure-eight route that centers on the South Rim Visitor Center before travelling to a variety of viewpoints. This shuttle is the only way to access the South Kaibab Trail. Operates year-round.

Tusayan Route (Purple)

Runs between the South Rim Visitor Center and the nearby town of Tusayan. Operates seasonally.

Download a map of South Rim shuttle routes from the National Park Service.

grand canyon south rim shuttle

The South Rim vs. the West Rim

The South Rim and the West Rim are the two most popular Grand Canyon destinations. Both offer stunning viewpoints and many fun activities and attractions to explore, but depending on your travel plans, one Rim may be more ideal for your vacation. We can help you decide:

South RimWest Rim
Distance from Las Vegas275 miles125 miles
Driving Time4.5-5 hours3 hours
Major AttractionsGrand Canyon Village, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, and more.Skywalk, Hualapai Ranch, Guano Point
ViewpointsMore than two dozen viewpointsThree main viewpoints
Tour OptionsBus, boat, helicopter, and airplane toursBus, boat, helicopter, airplane, and rafting tours
Floor LandingYesYes

Who Should Visit the South Rim?

If you’ve never visited the Grand Canyon before, the South Rim is the best place to start. It offers the most recognizable views, the most amenities, and the most activities, which makes it perfect spot for new visitors and families with small children.

The South Rim is also an ideal location for visitors who are driving themselves. If you would rather take a guided bus tour, consider visiting the West Rim.

Guided Tours You Can Take at the South Rim

Canyon Tours offers a variety of South Rim tours that cater to whatever Grand Canyon experience you desire.

The Complete Grand Canyon Visitor Guide

Find answers to all your questions about the Grand Canyon in our newly updated guide!

Take Our Guide With You!

Our free printable guide to visiting the South Rim contains all the information you need to know for your Grand Canyon adventure, including:

  • Weather
  • What to see at the Grand Canyon Village
  • South Rim viewpoints
  • Tourism services

Download the Complete Grand Canyon Visitor Guide for guides to each Rim, packing lists, travel tips and more.

Featured Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park

Printable Grand Canyon West Rim Visitor Guide

About Ria Borja

Ria is a Customer Experience Manager at Canyon Tours and an avid lover of the outdoors. When she isn't helping other travelers check destinations and dream vacations off their bucket lists, she's busy exploring the Southwest. Her favorite place to visit is (unsurprisingly!) the Grand Canyon.