A Grand Canyon Road Trip is the perfect way to see the top sights during your visit to Grand Canyon National Park.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, and for obvious reasons. This vast park is over 1900 square miles and offers some of the most uniquely stunning views in the country.
Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, walking tours, mule rides, stargazing, photography, river rafting, and of course, a very scenic road trip.
During my own visits to the Grand Canyon over the years I have fond memories of watching the most colorful sunsets from the rim of the canyon.
I hope you enjoy driving around this beautiful park as much as I did and that you get to see the most spectacular sunset.
Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary
This Grand Canyon road trip itinerary starts at the Grand Canyon East Entrance and heads west for 23 miles along Desert View Drive all the way to South Entrance Road which will lead you into Grand Canyon Village.
Grand Canyon Village is where you’ll find park information, gift shops, restaurants and lodging. This is the perfect place to end for the day so you can just enjoy the park, check into your room, and get something to eat. Just be sure not to miss the sunset.
The remainder of the road trip picks up from Grand Canyon Village heading 7 miles west along Hermit Road and ending at Hermit’s Rest Viewpoint.
Please note that personal vehicles are not permitted on Hermit Road west of Grand Canyon Village between March and November. If you visit during these months you will need to catch the park shuttle from Grand Canyon Village to the remaining stops along Hermit Road.
You can also hike the Canyon Rim Trail from Grand Canyon Village out to Hermit’s Nest. The trail is approximately 8 miles (one way). Once you reach the end of the road at Hermit’s Nest Viewpoint, you can either hike the 8 mile trail back to Grand Canyon Village, or hop on the park shuttle.
Hermit’s Road is open to personal vehicles in December, January and February.
Stop 1: Desert View Watchtower
The Desert Watchtower will be the first stop you come to when you enter the Grand Canyon from the park’s east entrance. This is one of my own favorite viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. Walk off to the left of the main viewing area and you’ll find a spot to sit safely along the edge of the canyon. This is where the first picture at the top of this post was taken from. I could have sat there forever.
The picture immediately above was taken in between the watchtower buildings. Be sure to have a look around and inside before you leave. The four story watchtower dates back to 1932 and includes a gift shop on the lower floor and observation decks on the upper floors.
Stop 2: Navajo Point
After finishing up at Desert View Watchtower, head four minutes west to the lookout at Navajo Point. This is the South Rim’s highest vantage point.
Stop 3: Lipan Point
Lipan point is located 5 minutes west of Navajo Point. From Lipan Point you’ll find views of the Colorado River including sections of rapids.
Stop 4: Tusayan Museum and Ruins
The Tusayan Museum and Ruins can be found 5 minutes up Desert View Drive on the left hand side of the road. This is the location of a former Pueblo Indian site dating back to approximately 1185.
Stop 5: Moran Point
The next stop on this Grand Canyon Road Trip is found 8 minutes west at Moran Point. This is one of the busiest overlooks along the eastern section of the Grand Canyon.
It is known for its views of the three main rock groups that make up the Grand Canyon. If you’re wondering what those are, they are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.
Stop 6: Grand View Point
Another 15 minutes up the road, Grandview point is known for its panoramic views of both the eastern and western canyon. You’ll also be able to see a sizable section of the Colorado River down below.
For those looking to do some hiking, the notoriously difficult Grandview Trail is accessed from this overlook. Be sure to plan ahead for this one. This trail is extemely steep and very challenging.
Stop 7: Duck on a Rock View Point
Just 10 minutes further along Desert View Drive you’ll find the popular Duck on a Rock viewpoint. The main attraction at the Duck on a Rock Viewpoint is the sandstone formation pictured above. Many believe the formation looks like a duck sitting on a rock, hence the name.
For those unimpressed with the sandstone formation, you’ve always got the impressive Grand Canyon views in the background. If nothing else, it makes a nice focal point in your pictures.
Stop 8: Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Once you’ve finished enjoying all the eastern canyon views, make your way about 10 minutes up the road to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center you can obtain information about the park, pick up a map, view exhibits and learn about the park’s history. There is also a coffee shop where you can get coffee and light snacks.
After you finish up at the visitor center you can leave your car here while you walk to the next overlook.
Stop 9: Mather Point
The Mather Point overlook is just a six minute walk past the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Due to its proximity to the visitor center, this is one of the most crowded overlooks in the park, but it’s worth a look since you’re already parked.
Stop 10: Yavapai Point
Yavapai Point is just three quarters of a mile west of Mather Point. There’s a pathway that will take you there and it’s a nice walk. If you prefer you can also drive, but the parking area is rather small and often full.
The Yavapai Observation Station is located here, along with exhibits and a hiking trail.
Stop 11: Grand Canyon Village
You’ll find all kinds of services and amenities at Grand Canyon Village, most notably lodging and restaurants. If you have overnight reservations in the park, this is where you’ll find your lodge or hotel.
There are also souvenir shops, musuems, information and tour centers, and exhibits throughout the village.
Grand Canyon Village is also where the trail head for Bright Angel Trail is found. This is the trail that will lead you into the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River, Bright Angel Campground, and Phantom Ranch.
Stop 12: Hopi Point
Hopi Point is the fourth stop on the Red Shuttle from Grand Canyon Village. This popular overlook offers some of the most unobstructed views of the Grand Canyon, making it the perfect spot to view the sunrise or sunset.
If you’re planning to catch the sunset at Hopi Point, plan to arrive early to secure a good spot. This tends to be one of the busiest overlooks along Grand Canyon West.
Stop 13: The Abyss
The Abyss is the sixth shuttle stop on the Red Shuttle from Grand Canyon Village or a two mile walk from Hopi Point.
The Abyss is known for its steep views down the red rock canyon walls. Those with a fear of heights should not look down, but the panoramic views looking outward are well worth the shuttle ride to get there.
Stop 14: Pima Point
Pima Point offers some of the best views of the western end of the Grand Canyon including Bright Angel Canyon, Powell Plateau, and Cope Butte.
Visitors will also have excellent views of the Colorado River down below. If it’s quiet, you can even hear the rapids from the river roaring through the canyon down below.
Stop 15: Hermit’s Rest Viewpoint
Hermit’s Rest Viewpoint is the westernmost viewpoint and the final shuttle stop along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This is also one of the best spots in the park to view the sunset with spectacular views of the western section of the canyon.
Distance to the Grand Canyon from nearby places
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Eden FitePart-time Traveler | Dog Lover | Avoider of Crowds
I help people use their vacation days to see the world.