With an estimated 5.9 million people making the trek to this natural wonder year after year, the Grand Canyon has established itself as not only one of the most visited national parks in the United States, but one of the most visited nationwide attractions, period.
Make no mistake, this work of Mother Nature is ENORMOUS. At a mile deep, 277 miles long, and 18 miles wide, it’s near impossible to see it all.
So, if you’re looking for things to do in the Grand Canyon — be it hiking, adventure activities, camping, or cultural experiences — you can do so by visiting any of the North Rim, South Rim, East Rim, or West Rim.
Throughout this piece, we’ll outline all of the things to see at the Grand Canyon and dive into the most popular travel spots, addressing themes including:
- South Rim
- West Rim
- Inside the Canyon
- North Rim
- East Rim
- Interesting places around the Grand Canyon
- How to reach the Grand Canyon
- Where to stay at the Grand Canyon
Boasting an abundance of visitor services and family-friendly activities, the South Rim is the most popular of all the Grand Canyon hotspots. Open all year round, the area serves as the starting point of a number of the main hiking trails, as well as hosting ranger-led programs and adventure activities!
Be sure to check if your tour covers the entry fee. Otherwise, they’re as follows:
Car: $35. Motorcycle: $30. Bicycle, on foot, or by shuttle: $20.
1 – Hike along the South Rim Trail
Adventure enthusiasts; this one’s for you. Whether you opt for a long or short hike, it’s hard to go wrong: all trails come with an exceptional view. One of the most popular routes (for good reason) is the South Rim Trail, a relatively easy hike that connects Grand Canyon Village with Hermits Rest Point.
The 8-mile journey is split up into three sections: Grand Canyon Village, Desert View Road, and Hermit Road — each of which presents its very own unique vantage point over the iconic natural landmark. For some of the best photo ops, be sure to stop at Mather Point, Yavapai point, and Verkamp’s Visitor Center.
2 – Go skydiving over the Grand Canyon!
If you’re after heart-racing thrills and unmatched adrenaline, look no further. With arguably the nation’s most impressive slice of nature sprawled out beneath you — with harsh desert, unique rock formations, and vibrant red hues as far as the eye can see — a 15,000-foot skydive over the Grand Canyon’s South Rum should sit atop the list of things to the in the Grand Canyon.
With flights and pickups organized from Las Vegas, it’s as straightforward as can be.
3 – Take a helicopter tour over Dragon Corridor
What’s the best way to capture the Grand Canyon’s striking orange stones alongside the brilliant blue of the Colorado River? From above, of course! With either a 25- or 45-minute helicopter tour, you’ll be greeted by unobstructed aerial views of the national park, with plenty of fascinating geological and cultural tidbits relayed by your friendly pilot.
Most flights depart from Tusayan, Arizona, and soar over the South Rim, flying across the Dragon Corridor to the North Rim and back.
4 – Drive the Scenic Hermit Road or walk the trail
An approximately 7-mile road that skirts along the western end of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, Scenic Hermit Road is one of the most simple yet rewarding hikes in the area.
If you’re not up for walking, there’s a free shuttle bus that stops at nine different vantage points along the Hermits Rest Route. Whether on foot or by shuttle, don’t miss Powell Point, The Abyss (which boasts a near-vertical drop), or Mohave Point (a spectacular sunset view).
5 – Join a Jeep or Hummer tour!
For a unique, look-at-me way of seeing the towering rock formations up close, an open-aired jeep, hummer, or former military Humvee tour is a regular hit with travelers. With a local driver escorting you to some of the canyon’s best lookout points, and sharing interesting stories along the way, it’s a wonderful half-day adventure.
As you drive, keep an eye out for elk and other wild animals along the way (just don’t feed the rock squirrels… they bite).
6 – Get off the beaten path with a mule trip
As one of the most rugged, challenging landscapes in the country, there’s only so far that a tour bus can take you. To experience the natural wonder in its entirely, it needs to be explored the way Mother Nature intended! On part of a mule tour, you’ll explore untouched sections of the canyon and be given the chance to see it in a way most tourists could never imagine.
Trips operate in the South Rim, North Rim, and in the Kaibab National Forest (where a twilight bonfire awaits).
7 – Take a seat on the Grand Canyon Railway
In years gone by, the Grand Canyon Railroad was transporting ore through the Wild West; today, the iconic railway serves as an ever-popular attraction for tourists, linking Williams, Arizona with the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Whether you book a ticket from Flagstaff or Sedona, the views along the way are second to none.
Feeling fancy? Consider upgrading to First Class!
8 – Conquer the Bright Angel Trail
Covering some 18.4 miles, the Bright Angel Trail is a staple when it comes to basic Grand Canyon hiking experiences. The flanking canyon walls provide plenty of shade, while the views of the Colorado River… well… see for yourself.
Hot tip: it can be a little icy at point — especially at the start — so take it slow and be sure to wear appropriate shoes (crampons are used by some hikers).
9 – Explore the area on a bike
Get off the beaten track; ditch the crowded visitor centers and tour busses! Whether you join a bike tour — which features knowledgeable guides and comfy bikes — or simply rent your own, exploring the Canyon’s rim on two wheels is an experience you won’t soon forget.
When you’re feeling peckish, be sure to stop into Grand Canyon Coffee & Eatery to recharge the batteries!
10 – Soar over the canyon with an airplane tour
Ready to soar above the canyon like a California condor? Flights depart regularly from the South Rim, flying over the western side of the canyon where unbeatable views of landmarks like the Zuni Corridor, Desert View Watchtower, and Point Imperial await.
If you’re staying in Vegas, save yourself the driving time and book a flight that departs from Sin City instead! Or, for the ultimate experience, choose a tour that combines a scenic flight with whitewater rafting and a stop at Antelope Canyon.
11 – Grab the popcorn at the Grand Canyon IMAX
For the chance to learn all about the history, geology, and universal allure of this iconic National Park, there’s no better way than on an enormous six-story, 82-foot IMAX screen.
Situated at the Visitors Center on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the immersive film is the easiest way for travelers to experience the wonder of all 277 miles of the canyon in the space of just 34-minute — a perfect introduction before seeing it for yourself.
12 – Tick Desert View Drive off the bucket list
The most popular scenic road trip in Grand Canyon National Park (and it’s not hard to see why), Desert View Drive links Grand Canyon Village with Desert View, a small settlement sitting about 22 miles further east on the South Rim.
To appreciate all the favorite viewpoints — like Duck on a Rock, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, and Navajo Point — the drive takes about four hours, however, you could do it in much less.
13 – Stroll around the Grand Canyon Village
One of the most quintessential things to do in the Grand Canyon, a day exploring the quaint and historic Grand Canyon Village is always a hit with travelers. Home to a variety of parks and structures, many of which are officially designated National Historic Landmarks, there’s no shortage of things to do.
With plenty of traditional hotels on offer — namely the Bright Angel Lodge; early-20th-century El Tovar; and the historic Hopi House, built from native stone — an overnight stay is always welcomed!
14 – Learn about the area with a Ranger Program
What better way to understand the lay of the land than with a local expert?
In either a geology and history tour; wildlife introduction tour; or special events (think stargazing, for example), a park ranger will share fascinating insights and stories.
For youngsters interested in the outdoors, it’s an incredible experience that could pave the way for a future career!
15 – Tackle the South Kaibab Trail
As one of the Grand Canyon’s most celebrated hiking routes (Bright Angel Trail being the other), the South Kaibab Trail runs along the length of a ridge, offering unreal views of the rocky and river-laden landscape from start to finish.
The trek to Ooh-Aah Point (appropriately named) is just under two miles; Cedar Point is a three-mile round trip, and the journey to Skeleton Point (which requires a full-day commitment) is a six-mile round trip.
Due to these routes’ popularity, it’s recommended to arrive early.
16 – Dive into the area’s history at the Yavapai Geology Museum
The Grand Canyon was carved over some 6 million years — that’s 6 million years worth of erosions, geological movement, and archeological discoveries.
To learn all about the area’s natural history and dive deep into the science behind this fascinating world wonder, make a beeline for the Yavapai Geology Museum.
Besides being a great learning experience, thanks to its location on the very edge of the canyon rim at Yavapai Point, it also boasts unbeatable views!
17 – Watch the movie at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Did you know that the Grand Canyon itself can influence the weather? Or that its elevation spans from around 2,000 feet to over 8,000 feet?
These cool facts, and so many more, are showcased in the Grand Canyon Visitor Center’s film: “Movie Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder”.
The beauty of the film is that the camera has capture one-of-a-kind scenes in places that the average traveler would never have the chance to visit.
18 – Admire the exhibits at the Tusayan Ruin and Museum
With plenty of historical information to share and 2,000-4,000-year-old artifacts on display, this museum is a wonderful place to see artifacts made by ancestral Puebloans and learn about the original inhabitants of the now-tourist-centric area.
After checking out the museum’s exhibits, spend a few minutes roaming through the bookstore.
For an even deeper insight, guided tours led by local rangers are offered every day.
19 – Enjoy the view at the Desert View Watchtower
That view from the South Rim speaks for itself, wouldn’t you say?
As one of the very few buildings of its kind, the 70-foot-high Desert View Watchtower —made from stone in the style of Ancestral Puebloan towers — is an essential visit on any trip to the Grand Canyon.
Walk up to the observation deck, snap a few photos, and then browse through the bookstore inside!
The South Rim might receive the bulk of the Grand Canyon’s tourists, but if you’re after adventure, thrills, and more unbelievable views, the West Rim has it all.
With rafting, hiking, camping, and so much more, there’s no shortage of things to do in the Grand Canyon’s West Rim.
Keep in mind that the section requires entry fees:
General Admission — $56. Skywalk — $26. Meal Tickets — $18.
20 – Gaze 4,000 feet down to the Canyon’s floor on the Skywalk
Who says you need to hop in a helicopter for a breathtaking aerial view?
As you stroll out 70 feet to the edge of the Skywalk (if you’ve got the stomach for it), you’ll be greeted by a landscape unmatched anywhere else in the world.
There’s a reason why this Hualapai Tribe tourist attraction is the most famous landmark at Grand Canyon West!
21 – Take a helicopter tour (with a landing included)
Departing from Las Vegas, helicopter tours are a wonderful way to appreciate a new perspective on the sheer enormity of the Grand Canyon.
Of all the things to see in the Grand Canyon — towering cliffs, the Colorado River, waterfalls, and endless desert — most are visible from a bird’s eye helicopter tour.
Flights typically land on the West Rim, giving you an opportunity to explore the ground yourself. Depending on the tour option, they sometimes even land at the base of the canyon
22 – Go horseback riding through the Wild West!
If you’re looking for things to do in the Grand Canyon that provide a unique experience compared to the tour busses and high-trafficked hiking routes, a horseback riding adventure is a wonderful option.
As you travel through the rugged terrain of Nevada’s southwestern desert, keep an eye out for local wildlife and towering rock formations while hearing stories of the area’s rich history and culture.
Typically starting from Las Vegas, some tours make it all the way to the Canyon’s West Rim.
23 – Snap a selfie at Guano Point
Showcasing what is considered one of, if not the most dramatic visuals of any viewpoint in the Grand Canyon, Guano point is a surefire hit for anyone visiting the area.
After soaking in the views and checking out the historic tram display, recharge the batteries at the on-site Guano Point Café.
Thanks to its proximity to the Skywalk, it makes for the perfect back-to-back West Rim itinerary.
24 – Spend the night at Hualapai Ranch
Besides being a tourist attraction in its own right, the Hualapai Ranch also serves as a unique accommodation, offering an authentic Wild West-style lodging experience unmatched anywhere else.
In addition to its cabins, the ranch also boasts quaint shops, ziplining adventures, and a nightly campfire (with S’Mores).
25 – Check out the views at Eagle Point
Home of the aforementioned Skywalk, Eagle Point offers a range of entertainment options.
Watch the songs and dances of the Hualapai Tribe; take a self-guided tour through the local Eagle Point Native American village, and grab a couple of handcrafted souvenirs at the Creations by Native Hands Gift Shop.
After soaking in those views and snapping a handful of jealousy-inducing pics for the ‘gram, tuck in for a well-deserved meal at the Sky View restaurant, where the panoramic views are second to none.
26 – Explore the area with a Hummer tour
If the faced-pace, sleepless lifestyle of Las Vegas has taken its toll, you could do much worse than a day trip to the relaxing, picturesque West Rim to recharge the mind, body, and soul.
On an air-conditioned Hummer tour, guests travel past the 900-year-old Joshua tree forest, the manmade Lake Mead, and the world-famous Hoover Dam en route to the final destination: the Grand Canyon’s West Rim.
With lunch, a knowledgeable tour guide, and hotel pickup and drop-off included, it’s as hassle-free as can be!
Inside the Canyon
The outer rims provide exceptional views of the canyon — there’s no doubt about that. However, for an entirely new perspective; for the chance to get up close with the rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, and caves, a trip inside the canyon should be a high priority.
27 – Take a dip at Havasu Falls
Of all the things to see in the Grand Canyon, it’s hard to go past the colorful Havasu Creek as one of the most photogenic natural locations.
While easy to navigate, the hike to Havasu Falls from the trailhead is long — roughly 10 miles, eight of which take you to the town of Supai, and then another two to the campground and falls.
The only option to visit the falls is to book a 3-day permit, so be sure to keep this in mind.
Craving more hikes? Make your way to Beaver Falls and Mooney Falls for more epic views!
28 – Go rafting!
As an unforgettable activity that takes you down into the heart of the Grand Canyon along the Colorado River, a rafting tour should sit high atop any adventure enthusiast’s list of things to do in the Grand Canyon. Besides the exciting Class III+ rapids, the journey also features stops at hidden canyons and waterfalls, with a bonus hike to the beautiful Travertine Waterfall.
(most) Tours depart from Las Vegas, so you don’t have to worry about any of the annoying logistics!
29 – Camp overnight under the stars
An absence of light and noise pollution from tourist-trodden towns makes the canyon’s night sky light up in spectacular fashion.
Self-organized camping trips are possible, however, for the most straightforward experience, everything from 2-day to 2-week camping adventures can be booked.
Depending on the tour, multi-day camping trips can also include stops at Zion National Park, the Hoover Dam, and plenty more.
30 – Kayaking in the Black Canyon
To wade through the waters at the base of one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World — there’s nothing else quite like it.
Besides the once-in-a-lifetime chance to kayak down the Colorado River, surrounded by towering canyon rockfaces, travelers can also kayak along the Hoover Dam or Black Canyon rivers.
31 – Walk across the Black Suspension Bridge
At about the six-mile mark on the South Kaibab Trail, you’ll come across what is arguably the most picturesque suspension bridge in the entire national park.
Straddling the mighty Colorado River, the Black Bridge is 416 feet long and barely 5 feet wide, sitting 65 feet above the rushing river water.
Pack a camera; the views are nothing short of spectacular!
Standing at over 8000 feet elevation (1000 feet higher than its southern counterpart), there are so many things to see in the Grand Canyon along its North Rim. While the extra height means that the temperatures drop about 10 degrees, it also welcomes substantially more plant and animal life
While the nearest city is Fredonia, Arizona, the North Rim is also a popular destination for anyone making the journey down from Utah.
32 – Make a beeline for Bright Angel Point
Of all the Insta-worthy viewpoints in the Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Point — thanks to its ease of access and sweeping vistas — reigns as one of the best.
The paved trail that begins near Grand Canyon Lodge is short, at less than a mile, but forewarning, it can be steep (and a little icy in the colder months).
To appreciate all of the visible landmarks to their fullest, download the Guide to Bright Angel Point app.
33 – Join an ATV tour!
One for the adrenaline junkies, an ATV tour through the seemingly endless desert landscape should sit high atop the Grand Canyon / Arizona / Las Vegas bucket list!
For the best bang for your buck, combine a quad bike adventure with a scenic airplane flight to experience the world wonder from multiple perspectives!
Some tours make a stop at the Bar 10 Ranch, a secluded desert oasis perfect for a hearty BBQ lunch!
34 – Stand proud on the Kaibab Plateau
Otherwise known as Kaibab Mountain, the 8,700-foot plateau dishes up utterly spectacular scenes in every direction — particularly at dusk and dawn.
Along with its selection of worthy hiking trails, the plateau connects five famous lookout points along the Rainbow Rim Trail: Parissawampitts, Fence, Locust – pictured above, North Timp, and Timp.
As if the views weren’t motivation enough, the 44-mile drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim is considered “the most pleasant 44 miles in America”.
35 – Trek through the wilderness on the North Kaibab Trail
The least popular but most challenging of all of the Grand Canyon’s three major hiking routes, North Kaibab is not for the inexperienced. But for those who do tackle it, an unbelievable experience awaits.
Due to the North Rim’s extra altitude spectrum, as they descend, hikers get a glimpse of a range of ecosystems reminiscent of everything from Canada to Mexico.
While the entire North Kaibab Trail runs 14 miles from rim to river, there are plenty of day-hike options for those short of time.
36 – Spot wildlife at Point Imperial
Towering at precisely 8,803 feet high, Point Imperial holds the title of the highest of all the North Rim lookouts.
The roughly-2-hour Point Imperial Trail is easy and mostly flat, otherwise, there’s also the option to take the scenic drive.
As you stand atop the lookoff, keep an eye out for wildlife like Falcons, condors, squirrels, and deer (remember, there’s more activity here on the North Rim); and see how many caves you can spot.
37 – Relax and unwind at Bar 10 Ranch
Advertising itself as a ‘Unique Blend of Serenity & Adventure’, the family-owned Bar 10 Ranch has been welcoming and delighting visitors since the 1970s, offering not only whimsical accommodation but a range of incredible adventure activities.
Depending on your style, choose from river rafting, horse riding, quad biking, and scenic flights — or, to tick off all of the best bits at once, opt for the all-inclusive, multi-day ‘ultimate package’.
38 – Check out Cape Royal and Angels Window
You’ve been warned: walking above Angels Window may not be a good idea if you’re afraid of heights!
A naturally-formed archway that offers up sweeping views of the canyon in every direction, Angels Window — a little detour hike off the main Cape Royal Trail — is a wonderful addition to any North Rim itinerary.
At less than half a mile each way, it’s suitable for everyone.
39 – Grab a souvenir at the North Rim Visitor Center
Located next to the Grand Canyon Lodge, the North Rim Visitor Center is the common starting point for anyone visiting the area.
Besides providing plenty of souvenirs, maps, education exhibits, and an on-site cafe, the Visitor Center is staffed by local experts who know the canyon like the back of their hand.
So, if you have any questions regarding viewpoints, hikes, or activities, this is the place to ask!
While less-trafficked than its southern counterpart, there’s no shortage of unforgettable spots on the East Rim. Boasting a selection of infamous viewpoints, including Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend,
40 – Take that iconic photo at Horseshoe Bend
Of all the things to see in the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most iconic.
With the vibrant orange hues of the cliffs juxtaposing the sparkling blue Colorado River over 4,200 feet below, it’s a photo opportunity unlike any other.
To tick off two must-see destinations at once, opt for a tour that also visits Antelope Canyon.
41 – Wander through the mesmerizing Antelope Canyon
Honestly, have you ever seen anything quite like it? While Antelope Canyon isn’t technically in the Grand Canyon, it’s close enough to be able to tick off in the same trip.
Tours operate from both Las Vegas and Phoenix, or you can also make your own way there. Either way, be sure to combine it with a strop at Horseshoe Bend — two of the most iconic natural landmarks in the country.
42 – Appreciate the colors at Little Colorado River Gorge Navajo Tribal Park
The majority of the Grand Canyon radiates a bright, in-your-face orange hue. However, over at the Little Colorado River Gorge, with its near-colorless gray walls, the visual is a stark contrast to the rest of the natural wonder.
While the area does offer a selection of hiking trails, for those looking to keep it simple, two viewpoints lay within walking distance of the main parking lot.
43 – Cross the historic Navajo Bridge
As the former highest steel arch bridge in the world, the Historic Navajo Bridge still stands as intimidating as ever, with travelers holding on tight to the railing.
As you look down, the rushing Colorado River sits 467 feet below, providing a mesmerizing visual contrast to the orange rockfaces which encompass it.
Other interesting places nearby
Straddling the border between Nevada and Arizona, the gigantic Hoover Dam is approximately 40 miles from the heart of Las Vegas and 95 miles from Grand Canyon West — making it an easy addition to any Vegas or Grand Canyon holiday.
At over 726 feet tall, the concrete arch dam is as foreboding a structure as any.
Zion National Park
About 2 hours north of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Zion National Park is flush with natural wonders.
In addition to wonderful hiking routes like Angels Landing and The Narrows, the park also boasts a plethora of Canyoneering and Rock Climbing hot spots.
Be sure to take the shuttle down the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive — it’s chock-full of jawdropping sights!
Thanks to the Hoover Dam around the corner, Lake Mead exists as a unique desert oasis, housing 9 trillion gallons of water and, therefore, an endless array of waterborne activities fit for the entire family!
Within its 700 miles of shoreline, Lake Mead offers wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, kneeboarding; dinner cruises; shoreline hiking trails, and so much more.
Valley of Fire
Protruding like a giant piece of artwork from the hot floor of the Mohave Desert, the aptly-named Valley of Fire offers plenty of things to see and things to do.
Be sure to check out the 2000-year-old petroglyphs carved into the sandstone formations, and take a drive along Mouse’s Tank Road, where you’ll be able to admire the rocks as they change from pink to red to orange.
A popular vacation destination that welcomes some two million people per year, Lake Powell provides a great opportunity to take it slow and unwind.
Go camping, boating, hiking, or simply drive and the outskirts of the lake, admiring its gorgeous deep-blue color.
How to reach the Grand Canyon
From Las Vegas
- By Car — On average, the drive to the West Rim (the closest section to Las Vegas) takes approximately two and a half hours. Both the North Rim and South Rim, each located further away, take about four and a half hours. The majority of the trip is on the freeway, along I-11 S and US-93 S, before turning onto Pierce Ferry Road.
- On a tour (bus/minivan, jeep, or helicopter) — Why worry about logistics? If you book a tour, the experts pick you up from your hotel and arrange the entire trip. It’s hassle-free and definitely worth the extra few bucks (if you ask us)!
From Sedona, Flagstaff, or Williams
- By car — About an hour and a half from Flagstaff or two hours from Sedona, the drives up from Arizona are all relatively straightforward. Just take the I-17 N to Flagstaff and then the I-40 W and AZ-64 N.
- By train (Grand Canyon Railway) — One of the most picturesque and charming methods of travel is the Grand Canyon Railway. For ultimate luxury to complement the views, consider a first-class ticket.
- On a tour (bus/minivan) — Most tours include an air-conditioned bus or minivan that picks you up from your accommodation. No stress, no worries!
- By car — The drive from Phoenix is about three and a half hours. Just take the I-17 N to Flagstaff and then the I-40 W and AZ-64 N.
- On a tour (bus/minivan or helicopter): The basic and stress-free option is to book a tour that includes hotel pickup and drop-off. However, the fastest and most exciting way to get to the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly the helicopter option!
Where to stay in the Grand Canyon
Typically, travelers coordinate their trips in one of two ways:
Option one: they stay in a nearby major city (Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix) and arrange a day trip or multi-day trips with tour companies.
Option two: they stay closer to the action at lodging in Tusayan or Grand Canyon Village (both very short drives to the main sights and trails). Or, they camp in one of the National Park’s many campgrounds.
Can’t get enough of the Southwest USA? If you’re traveling to the Grand Canyon or staying in the Las Vegas area, do yourself a favor and check out these deep-dive articles as well:
- Best Grand Canyon Tours from Las Vegas
- Things to do in Las Vegas
- Best Hoover Dam Tours
- Antelope Canyon tours from Las Vegas
- Grand Canyon Helicopter tours
- Best Grand Canyon tours