Did you know Arizona is home to one of the seven wonders of the world? In the northern region of the state, you’ll find the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, an incredible natural marvel that everyone should get to experience at least once in their lifetime. If you’re planning a trip from out of state, or you are a local looking for a getaway, this is your sign to plan your trip to the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon!
Why Visit The South Rim?
One of the main reasons people don’t check the Grand Canyon off of their bucket list is the misconception that it’s a difficult place to visit. This really is not the case, and a trip to the Grand Canyon is accessible whether you’re driving or flying from out of state.
If it is your first time visiting the Grand Canyon, the South Rim in Arizona is usually suggested as the best starting point. It’s just an hour and a half away from Flagstaff, and about four hours from Phoenix.
This is a trip that can be done inexpensively as well, with many of the lodging and food options being price-sensitive. It only costs $6 per person to enter the Grand Canyon South Entrance, and children sixteen and under can enter the park for free.
The South Rim has a few unique features that make it stand out from the other areas you can visit. Not only does it have magnificent views, but it’s open to the public year-round and offers a beautiful experience whether you visit during the winter or summer months. (The Northern Rim is closed in the winter months.) The South Rim is also the most family-friendly rim of the Grand Canyon, which makes it ideal if you are traveling with young children or more elderly people.
Depending on what you want to do at the Grand Canyon, two full days is usually the right amount of time to see everything. One pro tip: make sure to catch the sunset during one of the days you are there, as it is an incredible sight to see the vibrant colors as the sun sets beneath the incredible rim!
How to Explore the South Rim
While at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, there are a lot of ways you can explore and take in the majestic views. You can do everything from take a helicopter tour, go on a horseback ride, experience the scenic Grand Canyon train ride, to so much more!
One of the best ways to see the canyon if you don’t want to hike is by taking the shuttle. The shuttle takes you on a route along the edge of the canyon, stopping at several vantage points along the way, which gives you opportunities to stretch your legs and walk around at scenic photo viewpoints.
If you want to go to the bottom of the canyon, there are two ways. One is by foot, hiking into the canyon via one of the trails. The other is by taking a mule ride tour! With either route, you must be prepared to stay in the canyon overnight. With the mules, you will stay at Phantom Ranch, and if you go by foot, be prepared to camp! Planning an overnight trip into the Grand Canyon is an involved process, and is something that has to be planned far in advance of your visit. Backcountry permits are required if you plan to stay in the canyon overnight, and a limited number are available each day. However, you definitely don’t need to go down into the canyon to have an incredible time during your visit, especially if it is your first time visiting.
Best Places to Stay at the South Rim
There are actually several choices for lodging and it’s important to know the lodges inside the park book up the fastest. The most popular times to visit are during the spring break months, summer, and early fall. It may be more difficult to find availability at those times, so we suggest making a reservation and planning your South Rim visit in advance to ensure you can stay at your preferred spot!
Some of the most popular lodges include Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, Kachina Lodge, and the Thunderbird Lodge. If you don’t mind staying a little outside of the park, you can save money and stay at one of the other Grand Canyon accommodations, about 7 miles south of the entrance. There are several other options, including a Best Western and a Holiday Inn Express.
If camping is more your style, you can also stay at the Desert View Campground, which is a seasonal campground in the area. This highly sought after campground is not open during the winter, and it is recommended that guests make their reservations up to six months in advance to secure a spot. The campground opens for the 2022 season on Friday, April 15, and remains open through the night of Sunday, October 16, 2022.
Where to Eat at the South Rim
When it comes to where to eat during your stay, there are plenty of options depending on your mood. There is a general store and Delicatessen at the Marketplace, both of which are located in Canyon Village Market, and this would be a good place to stock up on basic groceries, snacks, or find the supplies to make a small meal on your own.
If you are looking for more of a sit-down dining experience, there are several options in the South Rim area, where you can enjoy a delicious hot meal while remaining in the park. El Tovar Dining Room offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, and El Tovar also has a lounge where you can get drinks and light bites.
If you are super hungry after a long day of hiking and exploring, try Arizona Steakhouse or Fred Harvey Burger, both located inside Bright Angel Lodge. You do not have to be staying at the lodge to dine there. While the food options may be a little more limited in the area due to the canyon’s remote location, the focus of a visit to the South Rim is really on the beautiful outdoor views!
If you have never been to the Grand Canyon before, this is your sign to do so! Even some Phoenix residents who have lived in the state their whole life haven’t made the journey north, and it’s a bucket list trip everyone should prioritize. Whether you want to be super adventurous and backpack into the canyon, or you would rather admire it from afar, there are a lot of ways to enjoy a visit to this incredible place.