Bright Red rocks at the Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park Activities and Tours

Activities and Tours

The Grand Canyon National Park features the most spectacular and world-recognized sights of the canyon. Here the sprawling expanse of 2 billion-year-old rock stretches as far as the eye can see - over a mile deep and in some places over 11 miles wide. Visitors can gaze at the vast landscape from behind the barriers, or venture onto the stone for a closer look. However, this is certainly not the only means to experience this magnificent landmark.

At the Grand Canyon National Park, you can hike, bicycle, or take a guided tour. Guided tours range from mule rides, bus and Hummer tours, even airplane and helicopter tours.

Mule Ride Canyon Tours

Discover the Grand Canyon like a real frontiersman! These trained mules are mild-mannered and know the land better than anyone.

For Reservations, contact Xanterra Central Reservations:

United States - 1-888-297-2757

International - 1-303-297-2757 Int'l Toll

Website: Xanterra

Horseback Trail Rides

Apache Stables offers the only horseback riding opportunities near the South Rim. These friendly animals are fun for experienced riders or beginners.

For reservations, call: (928) 638-2401 or Moqui Lodge at (928) 638-2424.

Hummer Tours

Buck Wild Hummer Tours offer thrilling ground excursions along the legendary Desert View Drive at the Grand Canyon South Rim, featuring stops at several scenic lookout points along the canyon rim with time for sightseeing and photography.


US (928) 362-5940

Bike Rentals

For the safety of riders and pedestrians, bicyclists at the South Rim are required to ride only on paved roadways. Offroad biking is permitted at the Kaibab National Forest near the canyon.

For more information about Kaibab off-road trails, contact the Tusayan Ranger District at (928) 638-2443.

Railroad Tours

The first passenger train arrived at the Grand Canyon on September 17, 1901. Over the last century, railroad travel is remained an integral form of transportation to the canyon. Today, Grand Canyon Railway is dedicated to not only carrying guests to the canyon, but taking them on a journey through history. At the train station in Williams, Arizona - a real Old West town - guests can watch a recreation of an old-fashioned train robbery and bandit/marshal shootouts, or enjoy some old-time song and dance. After some Western entertainment, passengers will board a restored vintage train car and take off toward the canyon.

Daily departure is at 9:30 am and arrives at the canyon at 11:45am.

Departure from the Grand Canyon Depot is at 3:30pm and returns to the Williams station at 5:45pm.

During busy seasons, an added train will depart at 10:30am and depart from the canyon at 4:30pm.

Information/Reservations at Grand Canyon Railway:

US - (928) 773-1976

Toll-free - (800) 843-8724

The Train

Cross-Country Skiing

During snow seasons, cross-country skiing is offered at the Kaibab National Forest free of charge. Those without their own ski equipment can rent packages at the South Rim General Store, as well.

For more information, reach the Kaibab National Forest Tusayan Ranger District at (928) 638-2443

South Rim General Store: (928) 638-2262

Places to Visit

Visitor Center - Grand Canyon Village

At the Grand Canyon Village Visitor Center, guests will find a bookstore, scheduling for evening presentations and entertainment, and modernized postings for nature walks led by park rangers as well as campfire gatherings. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8 am until 5 pm with extended hours during the summer.

Information: (928) 638-7888

Hopi House

Built by renowned American Southwest architect Mary Colter, the Hopi House has served as a marketplace for Native American crafts for over 100 years. Find the most beautiful items handmade by local Native artisans and even watch traditional Indian dance performances.

El Tovar Hotel

The El Tovar is the final word in luxury canyon hotels; even those not staying there will find it worthwhile to visit if only to experience the architecture. Its design is a cross between a Northern European villa and a rustic forest hideaway. Over a century old, the hotel bears the prestigious designation a National Historic Landmark. All year long, visitors to the hotel can view art exhibits, browse Native American crafts for sale, and find musical entertainment.

Information: (928) 638-2631

Bright Angel Lodge

Officially completed in 1935, Bright Angel Lodge is home to the Fred Harvey Museum, a tribute to the legendary railroad entrepreneur who brought tourism to the American Southwest. The most spectacular sight at the Lodge is undoubtedly the fireplace. Intricately designed to perfectly mimic the geologic layers of the Grand Canyon itself, the splendid hearth is a sight to behold.

Information: (928) 638-2631

Mather Point

This special canyon lookout point offers a spectacular view of the sweeping walls of the Grand Canyon. At a dramatic elevation of over 7,000 feet, visitors will see Pipe Creek Canyon, the Inner Gorge of the Colorado River, and everything inbetween. Named for Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, this fantastic lookout point is actually one of the first sights guests will find when entering the South Rim.

Verkamp's Curios

Opened as a in 1905 and operated by the Verkamp family for generations, this quaint shop near the canyon sells souvenirs and crafts. Staying true to the time of its construction, Verkamp's is a look into life and work at the Grand Canyon during the turn of the century.

Kolb's Studio

Nestled on the very edge of the Grand Canyon, Kolb Studio has provided spectacular views of the canyon since 1904. This building was designed to provide early photographers and painters with the perfect inspiration for their landscape work. Here, guests will find a bookstore, and art gallery, and historical details of the structure.

Buckey O'Neill Cabin

This picturesque cabin is named for one of President Theodore Roosevelt's trusted Rough Riders who was killed in battle in Cuba. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an integral part of the canyon's story, well worth finding when visiting the area. Now incorporated into Bright Angel Lodge, the cabin is an extremely popular tourist accommodation and requires advanced reservations.

Grand Canyon Depot

Built over 100 years ago, the Grand Canyon Depot is still an operational train station today. One of only 3 historic log constructions left in the United States, the platform receives passengers arriving on restored vintage train cars every day except Christmas.

Grand Canyon Community Library

Settled in what was once a 1920's-era schoolhouse, the community library holds several thousand literary works as well as many educational pieces about the history of the American Southwest. Guests may also use the computers for free internet access and take advantage of services like printing, scanning, and faxing.

Information: (928) 638-2718

Grand Canyon Cemetery

Discover the resting places of the Grand Canyon's most historically-important individuals. From early explorers and legendary frontiersman to canyon trail guides and historical government officials, the cemetery provides a comprehensive guide to the people who strove to show the entire world the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

Tusayan Ruin (East of Grand Canyon Village)

"Tusayan" - from the early Spanish explorers' terminology for the Hopi Natives they encountered - is one of the prominent archaeological discoveries in the Grand Canyon area. This ancient pueblo village is estimated to have been inhabited by Native Americans around 1190 AD. Follow a self-guided trail to the remains of 2 kivas (underground rooms) and several above-ground dwellings. Also nearby is a museum of ancient Hopi artifacts. Just a little over 20 miles east of Grand Canyon Village, the Tusayan Ruins are an adventure worth taking.

Information: (928) 638-2305

Grand Canyon IMAX Theater (Tusayan)

Take a load off your feet after a busy day of exploring. Just about 5 miles from the canyon rim in Tusayan, Arizona, guests will find the National Geographic Visitor Center as well as a gift shop and several fast food restaurants. The visitor center provides information, educational materials, and an IMAX theater. The theater features a massive 70 x 82-foot screen complete with Dolby surround sound audio to fully transport viewers into the film "The Grand Canyon - The Hidden Secrets". The 34-minute film showcases never-before-seen views of the canyon and profiles the lives of the courageous frontiersmen who first climbed inside.

Adult Admission: $13.59

Senior Admission: $12.50

Child Admission (6-10): $10.33

Information: (928) 638-2468/2203

Yavapai Observation Station

This center was constructed 80 years ago to provide guests with an opportunity to explore the geology of the Grand Canyon. Because of its growing popularity with visitors, the observation station has underwent many renovations to accommodate the growing crowds. Today, guests will find immense windows providing views of the canyon's layered walls all the way to the canyon floor.

The Yavapai Observation Station also features exhibits about the canyon's geology, rangers who provide daily dialogues about the canyon, and a bookstore.

Open daily 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Lookout Studio

Built in 1914, the Lookout Studio is a photography studio that was initially intended to compete with the Kolb Studio. This observation center is another work by American Southwest architect Mary Colter. Using irregular and uneven rock as the main construction material, Colter's design was meant to mimic the structures built by the Native Americans. By doing so, the Lookout Studio almost blends into the rock face it rests upon. Visitors will find beautiful views of the Grand Canyon and several telescopes to get a closer look.

Desert Watchtower (East of Grand Canyon Village)

This 70-foot stone tower is distanced from the bustling Grand Canyon Village, but still rests at the edge of the canyon rim. The inside walls of the building display beautiful murals designed by Fred Kabotie, a celebrated Hopi artist. There are many small windows throughout the rounded tower walls, which let in shafts of sunlight that shine to the floor of the tower. Perhaps the most unique element of this tower's architecture are the "reflectoscopes" - black mirrors that provide a unique perspective of the canyon. Guests can climb to the 4th story and find even more spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.

Tusayan Grandview Lookout

The Arizona Off-Road Trails winding through in the Kaibab National Forest will lead hikers to the Grandview Lookout Tower. This 80-foot steel tower was built in the 1930s to watch for forest fires.A tiny cabin atop the tower (measuring only 7 square feet) would be occupied by fire guards observing the treeline for smoke. The Forest Service is still an integral part of the Grand Canyon National Park's preservation to this day. Although the Grandview is no longer used as a watchtower, it has been listed as a Historic Place on the National Register.

Scenic Driving Tours

Hermit Road Scenic Drive

Follow this 8-mile stretch of road along the South Rim with views of the canyon the entire way. Named for Louis Boucher, a miner and explorer who lived a secluded life at the canyon, this road ends at Hermit's Rest, where travellers will find a gift shop, public restrooms, and fresh drinking water. Other sights include Maricopa Point, Powell Memorial, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, the Abyss at cliffs of the Redwall Limestone.

East Rim / Desert View Drive

Desert View Drive is a 25-mile road that travels east from the Grand Canyon Village along the South Rim. Discover canyon viewpoints such as Mather Point, Yaki Point, Zuni Point, Horseshoe Mesa, and of course Desert View. Areas for private vehicles to pull over and available at many locations so travellers can step out for a closer look. Upon reaching the Desert Watchtower, passengers will also find the Desert View services area, hosting a bookstore, restrooms, and snacks.

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 Grand Canyon National Park’s web site.

Rim Trail

Starting at the Yavapai Observation Station, this paved trail guides hikers along the canyon's edge all the way to Maricopa Point. The canyon walls and historic buildings like the El Tovar hotel are very much within sight on the Rim Trail. After reaching Maricopa Point, hikers can continue on a dirt path to Hermit's Rest, for a total of a 9-mile journey. Those who only want to make the hike one way can catch a shuttle bus back just a short distance from the trail every 15 minutes.

Hermit Trail

Beginning at Hermit's Rest, this trail descends 7 miles down into Hermit Creek. From here, hikers can continue to Hermit Rapids about 1.5 miles further. Climbing down is an approximate 6-hour excursion, but due to the elevation change of about 4,300 feet, climbing upward and out will be between 8 and 10 hours. Skilled hikers of Hermit Trail can connect onto the 92-mile long Tonto Trail, as well.

Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail is likely the most popular path found at the Grand Canyon National Park - certainly the most highly-rated. Beginning at the Kolb Studio at the cliff's rim, this hike drops 4,400 feet into the canyon's depths over the course of 9.3 miles. The trail leads to the Bright Angel Campground, not far from another of legendary architect Mary Colter's works of art: Phantom Ranch.

South Kaibab Trail

Beginning at the East Rim's Yaki Point - which provides a broad view of the canyon - the South Kaibab Trail gradually drops 4,800 feet over the course of about 7 miles. It is important to note that the trail sees very little shade; therefore, bringing ample water is imperative.

Red Butte Trail (Tusayan)

This trail leads through the Kaibab National Forest to the summit of the Red Butte, a uniquely rounded mountain south of the canyon. The pathway is moderately challenging, but many directional signs and markings are dispersed throughout the trail. From the peak of this landform, hikers will find a wondrous 360-degree view of the landscape sprawling before them, including the Grand Canyon itself.