National Park Activities and Tours
Activites and Tours
The Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim hosts a variety of activities and tours that will be of interest to visitors including hiking, driving, biking, horseback riding, mule rides, bus tours, jeep tours, railroad tours, cross-country skiing, field excursions and South Rim airplane tours from Las Vegas. There are also activities located in Tusayan, 5 miles south of the rim, the location of the Grand Canyon-Tusayan Airport.
From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park:
SCENIC AIRLINES: (800) 634-6801, (702) 638-3300
To see all of our Grand Canyon Sightseeing Tours, click here: Grand Canyon Tours
At Grand Canyon National Park: Fixed Wing Aircraft
Grand Canyon Airlines: (800) 528-2413, (928) 638-2407
Air Star Airlines: (928) 638-2139
Air Grand Canyon Family Tours: (928) 638-2686
Windrock Airlines: (800) 24-ROCKY
At Grand Canyon National Park: Helicopter Tour Operators
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters: (800) 528-2418, (928) 638-2419
Kenai Helicopters: (928) 638-2764
Airwest Helicopters of Arizona: (928) 516-2790
Air Star Helicopters: (800) 962-3869, (928) 638-2622
For Reservations Contact Xanterra Central Reservations at: 1-888-297-2757 or 1-303-297-2757 Int'l Toll or visit http://www.xanterra.com.
Apache Stables offers the only horseback riding near the South Rim. For reservations call: (928) 638-2401 or Moqui Lodge at (928) 638-2424.
The Fred Harvey Transportation Company provides narrated Bus Tours of the Canyon in their “Harveycars.” For more information call: (928) 638-2401.
Tours include a Two-Hour West Rim Drive; a Four-Hour East Rim-Desert View Drive; and a One & One Half Hour Tour between Yaki and Mohave Points.
Grand Canyon Jeep Tours is located in Tusayan and offers tours to Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon sites. For reservations call: (928) 638-5337 or (800) 320-5337.
Tours include a Two-Hour Canyon Pines Tour; Two and One Half Hour Grand Sunset Tour and an Indian Cave Painting Tour.
South Rim bikers are required to stay on paved roadways and observe traffic laws. Off-road biking is only allowed in the Kaibab National Forest. For more information about Kaibab off-road trails, call the Tusayan Ranger District at (928) 638-2443.
The first passenger train reached the Grand Canyon on September 17, 1901. Today Grand Canyon Railway, operating out of Williams, AZ, uses steam locomotives to pull vintage cars to the Canyon. For information and/or reservations, call: Grand Canyon Railway: (800) 843-8724 or (928) 773-1976 or visit www.thetrain.com. A variety of tours are available, some with motor coach connections at Grand Canyon Village.
Cross-country skiing is available near the South Rim when there is snow and is offered in the Kaibab National Forest at no charge. For more information, call the Kaibab National Forest Tusayan Ranger District at (928) 638-2443.
Cross-country ski packages may be rented at the South Rim General Store (928) 638-2262.
Places to Visit
Visitor Center - Grand Canyon Village
Open daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (extended hours in the summer). For info call: (928) 638-7888. The Visitor Center houses a bookstore and provides information regarding evening presentations, postings for Ranger-guided walks and campfire programs.
Built in 1905, this facility houses a collection of Indian arts & crafts. Indian dances are performed outside the facility in the summer.
El Tovar Hotel
Even if you are not a guest of El Tovar, you should visit it. This rustic lodge was fashioned after northern European lodges at the time of its construction in 1905. It is a National Historic Landmark and throughout the year, it hosts art exhibits, Native American craft markets, and music performances. For info call: (928) 638-2631.
Bright Angel Lodge
The Lodge was completed in 1935 and contains the Fred Harvey Museum. From 1883 through the 1950’s, “Harvey Girls” were employed in Fred Harvey restaurants and hotels along the rail lines. Also found at Bright Angel Lodge is a “geologic fireplace” that stacks stones in the same formation in which they are found throughout the Grand Canyon.
Named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, this Viewpoint offers a dynamic vista encompassing Pipe Creek Canyon and the Inner Gorge of the Colorado River. Mather Point is at an elevation of 7,120 feet and provides one of the first encounters with the Grand Canyon for visitors entering the park from the south.
John Verkamp started a curio shop in a tent in 1898. Five years later he returned to the Grand Canyon and built a facility that is still operated by the Verkamp family today. The Curio shop sells souvenirs and crafts.
In 1904, the Kolb Brothers started a photographic studio that contained their work. Later, a descendant, Emery Kolb displayed photos and films of the Canyon that have been preserved for exhibition.
Buckey O'Neill Cabin
This cabin is located near the Bright Angel Lodge. It is the second oldest structure in the Grand Canyon Village and once belonged to “Buckey” who served as a sheriff and a judge in the area.
Grand Canyon Depot
This old log train depot is one of three historic log structures remaining in the U.S. It was built in 1909 near the El Tovar Hotel in Grand Canyon Village, and eventually closed in 1968 after the last passenger train departed. After 22 years of inactivity, the Depot was opened once again in 1990 for passenger service.
Grand Canyon Community Library
The library is housed in an old schoolhouse near the General Office in Grand Canyon Village. It contains southwestern readings and periodicals for those wishing to diversify their activity schedule. For info call: (928) 638-2718.
Grand Canyon Cemetery
This may not seem, at first mention, like a tourist-friendly place to visit, however, the cemetery is a virtual who’s who of Grand Canyon history, containing over 304 plots for early settlers, prospectors, trail guides and government officials.
Tusayan Ruin (East of Grand Canyon Village)
“Tusayan” is a Spanish word for “Hopi Indian Territory.” A prehistoric pueblo village dating to 1190 A.D. is located 23 miles east of the Village along the East Rim/Desert View Drive, that incorporates a self-guided trail to the ruins that include 2 kivas, and several ancient rooms. A museum at the site houses artifacts and is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. during the summer. For info call: (928) 638-2305.
Grand Canyon IMAX Theater (Tusayan)
The theater has a 70-foot screen with 6-track stereo sound and shows, “The Grand Canyon – The Hidden Secrets”, a 34-minute movie that highlights different historical moments of the Canyon including John Wesley Powell’s river trip. Fast-food restaurants and gift shops are located adjacent to the IMAX. Admission is $10.65 for adults and $7.46 for children 5-10. For more info call: (928) 638-2468/2203. Located in Tusayan, located approximately 5 miles south of Grand Canyon Village.
Yavapai Observation Tower
Open daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Tower displays exhibits about Grand Canyon geology.
Completed in 1914, this studio houses a gift shop and a view platform of the Canyon.
Desert Watchtower (East of Grand Canyon Village)
This tower is located on the highest point of the South Rim at 7,500’. It has a spectacular view of the Painted Desert and Marble Canyon.
Tusayan Grandview Lookout
This 80’ steel tower, located in Tusayan, was built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and offers a great view of the surrounding region.
Scenic Driving Tours
West Rim Drive
This 8-mile drive stretches along the South Rim from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit’s Rest and was built by the Santa Fe in 1912. Hermit’s Rest has public restrooms, a gift shop and drinking water. It was named after Louis Boucher, the “Hermit”, who came to the Grand Canyon in 1891 and lived there for 21 years. Viewpoints and tourist stops along the West Rim Drive include Maricopa Point, Powell Memorial, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, the Abyss at cliffs of the Redwall Limestone and Pima Point.
East Rim/Desert View Drive
This 25-mile drive is located along the South Rim between Grand Canyon Village and its eastern-most point along Desert View. Viewpoints along the East Rim Drive include Mather Point, Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Zuni Point, Horseshoe Mesa, Lipan Point, Navajo Point and Desert View.
South Rim Trails
Trails vary in length and difficulty. Hikers should obtain information about trails from the Grand Canyon Village Visitor’s Center regarding hike-in and hike-out estimated times, the optimal seasons of the year for hiking a particular route and a list of park amenities offered along each trail. Visit the park’s web site at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/backcountry.htm.
The Rim Trail is a 9 mile trail running from Yavapai Observation Station past El Tovar Hotel to Maricopa Point. There is a 3.5 mile section that is paved, a 0.4 mile connecting trail that leads to the Visitor’s Center, and a 6.7 mile dirt trail from Maricopa Point to Hermit’s Rest. Shuttle buses travel every 15 minutes near the trail for those wishing to hike one way and return via bus.
This trail begins at the end of the gravel road near Hermit’s Rest and descends 7 miles to Hermit Creek. Hermit Rapids is another 1.5 miles. There is an elevation change of 4,300 feet between the rim and the river that will take a hiker approximately 6 hours to hike down and 8-10 hours climbing out. The Hermit Trail connects with the Tonto Trail, a 92-mile path contouring the Tonto Platform.
Bright Angel Trail
This trail is perhaps the most popular trail found at the South Rim and is definitely the best graded. The Trail begins near Kolb Studio in Grand Canyon Village and descends 4,400’ over a course of 9.3 miles to Bright Angel Campground near Phantom Ranch.
South Kaibab Trail
The South Kaibab Trail descends 4,800’ in 7.3 miles and begins near the Yaki Point turnoff from the East Rim Drive.
Red Butte Trail (Tusayan)
The Red Butte Trail is located within the Kaibab National Forest and provides excellent 360 degree views from its mountain lookout tower. It is located 9 miles south of Tusayan off of Forest Road 340A.