Five Must-See Attractions in the Grand Canyon National Park
Numerous fascinating sights make the Grand Canyon a natural wonder of the world. Here are some attractions you shouldn’t miss on your next visit.
The Grand Canyon is a vast, impressive region of exceptional natural beauty. Over five million years old, it has been home to captivating sights for ages and still continues to attract visitors from all over the world.
While it spans almost 280 miles, not all Grand Canyon National Park regions are equally filled with attractions. The one that stands out the most is the South Rim, as it offers the most iconic views of the Colorado River canyon and the surrounding landscape.
But even when narrowed down to one of four main regions, the choice of fascinating locations is overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the five must-see attractions you shouldn’t miss on your next visit to Grand Canyon National Park.
1. Mather Point and the Visitor Center
The first place to visit in the South Rim is the Visitor Center. Here you can purchase entrance tickets for the park, book tours, and get brochures and maps of the area. The Visitor Center also houses exhibits that showcase interesting facts and the history of the location.
If you want to find nearby hotels and restaurants, the staff will be happy to assist you. Here you can also find a cafe to relax in and an IMAX theater where you can catch a projection of Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets, a 34-minute movie that takes you on a journey of exploration through the centuries of human experiences with the Grand Canyon.
Near the Visitor Center is where you’ll find the Mather Point overlook. From here, you’ll get the first look at the gorgeous canyon landscape. There are several viewing areas on a cliff that towers the canyon, providing a wide field of view. While other points might offer even better sights, Mather Point is the perfect introduction to Grand Canyon vistas.
2. The Rim Trail
You’ll need to dedicate quite some time to the Rim Trail, as it’s about 13 miles long. However, it’s among the most scenic walks in this part of the world, so the time spent on it is well worth it.
The Grand Canyon Rim Trail starts east from the Visitor Center. From South Kaibab Trailhead, it goes all the way west to Hermit’s Rest. The whole trail offers an impressive view of the canyon, so you can expect to spend as much time marveling at the landscape as walking the trail.
If you’re not up for the whole walk, it’s best to start from Mather Point and go west until you reach the Geology Museum. It will be enough for you to get a feel for the location and you’ll save some time for other attractions.
3. Yavapai Geology Museum
The Yavapai Geology Museum in Grand Canyon National Park is fascinating both as a viewpoint and a showcase of the region’s natural history. It’s because a group of geologists founded it in 1928 as a site for observation.
The museum features panoramic windows with displays at the base. Here you can see various groups of rocks and find out interesting details about them. There’s also plenty of information about the rock layers, including their names and how their layout records the geologic history of the region.
The exhibits feature models of different Grand Canyon areas, masterful artwork, and beautiful, impressive photographs. You can also marvel at the relief map of the whole canyon – a detailed, dimensional model with labels and true colors. This relief map will provide you with a view of the Grand Canyon that you won’t get even on the most extensive helicopter ride.
4. Hermit Road
If you want to have a scenic tour of the Grand Canyon without extensive walking, you can have a ride along the Hermit Road. The National Park has shuttle buses that are frequently in operation and they make stops at the nine viewpoints along the road. But if you’re visiting in the winter months of December, January, and February, you can traverse the Hermit Road in your own vehicle.
The road starts at the Hermit Road Transfer Station, which is also the starting point for the Village Route and the Rim Trail. The road leads westwards from there and ends at Hermits Rest. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to take in the amazing views from the nine viewpoints that all offer unique and attractive vistas.
Maricopa Point overlooks an abandoned 19th-century mine. Powell Point houses a memorial of the same name, raised in memory of the exploratory expeditions down the Colorado River. Hopi Point is one of the most iconic viewpoints, especially beautiful during sunrise and sunset, and the same goes for Mohave Point. Meanwhile, the Abyss offers a dizzying, almost vertical view of the canyon.
At the end of the ride is where you’ll find Hermit’s Rest, which is built like an old-style miner’s cabin. It features a porch, a fireplace, a gift shop, and a snack bar. It’s the perfect place to finish the impressive tour and, as the name implies, take a well-deserved rest.
5. Desert View Watchtower
Although built only in 1932, the Desert View Watchtower is reminiscent of ancient Anasazi architecture. This similarity is intentional and much attention was given to the details of the stonework.
There are two observation decks here, one on the second level and another on the top of the tower. They both offer amazing views of the canyon and, eastwards, of the desert beyond.
The Desert View Watchtower is a dramatic, stunning piece of architecture of specific cultural and historical significance. Although it isn’t an authentic Anasazi building, it will certainly spark curiosity about the ancient people that inhabited the Grand Canyon more than 4,000 years ago.
The Desert View Entrance is in the eastern part of the rim, on the opposite side of the Visitor Center. It opens up a new experience to visitors already familiar with the western side’s more popular sights.
Explore the Unparalleled Beauty of the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a gorgeous location that will leave you breathless. There are fascinating vistas, as well as cultural and geological history to experience through its many attractions.
Once you start exploring the natural wonder, you’ll yearn to come back for more.