10 best things to do in the grand canyon national park

Despite being absolutely spoilt with amazing landscapes and views before our trip to the Grand Canyon National Park I was still impressed with the Grand Canyon. Especially with the sunset that we saw on our first evening there. The sheer scale of the Grand Canyon is almost impossible to comprehend. What that does mean, however, is that there are absolutely tonnes of things to do in the Grand Canyon National Park. Here are some of the best things to do in the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

sunset in the grand canyon

Gaze out at the canyon from Desert View

We entered the Grand Canyon’s South Rim from the East which meant the first part we got to was the Desert View. It’s a pretty good place to start your Grand Canyon experience – that’s for sure!

Climb to the top of the Desert View Watchtower

best things to do in the grand canyon

At Desert View there’s a 70ft tall Watchtower that gives you some great views of the Grand Canyon and gives you a better size of it’s scale. From the top you can see over 100 miles away on a clear day!

The Watchtower isn’t an original which is slightly disappointing, but it’s still cool. It was designed in 1932 and is a replica of prehistoric towers that have been found in the Colorado Plateau.

Walk some of the rim trail

At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon there’s a Rim Trail which follows along the top of the canyon. It’s nice and flat and easily accessible (although at some points towards Hermits Rest it does get VERY close to the edge, so maybe not good if you get nervous easily!)

Stay in the park for sunset

Whatever you do, make sure you stay in the Grand Canyon for sunset. The sunsets are seriously impressive and it’s definitely one of the best things to do in the Grand Canyon.

We watched the sun set over by Hopi Point to the west of the South Rim but you’ll get a pretty good view wherever you are.

Oh, and don’t leave straight away. Some of the best colours come out once the sun itself can’t be seen anymore!

best things to do in the grand canyon

Catch sunrise in the park

Either book a night at one of the Grand Canyon’s lodges or stay just outside and head in early to catch the sunrise. It’s likely to be less busy than sunset but it’s more than worth the early wake up call.

See the view from Yaki Point

You can only get to Yaki Point on foot; you’re no longer allowed to drive right up to it. That doesn’t mean you have to walk far for the view though! From here you’ll be able to see Bright Angel Trail, a section of the Tonto Trail and a fine view of much of the South Kaibab Trail as it descends along Cedar Ridge.

Hike into the Grand Canyon

Don’t take hiking into the Grand Canyon lightly, the climb back up is pretty steep so make sure you’re ready for it. It also gets extremely hot so take plenty of water and suncream! We hiked part of the South Kaibab Trail which you can see more of here:

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Ride a Mule into the Grand Canyon

Another option for hiking into the Grand Canyon is to take a mule ride. There are 1 hour and 2 hour trail rides through the pines of the Kaibab National Forest available. Or, you could opt for a twilight campfire and wagon rides!

Ride the bus down to Hermits Rest

The drive down to Hermits Rest has some of the best scenic views of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. During most of the year the road is closed to cars so you’ll have to take the shuttle bus which is free and runs pretty regularly.

Make sure you get off and take a walk at some points too!

best things to do in the grand canyon

Find unique viewpoints by bike

There are quite a view outlooks over the Canyon that cannot be accessed by car but which can be reached by bike. Plus, it’s pretty cool to say you’re biked in the Grand Canyon. Check out Bike Grand Canyon for more info.