Visiting the Grand Canyon is a magical experience. Grand is an understatement for its magnificence. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to appreciate it, though. This article details how to see the South Rim in one day! Stop and spend one day at the Grand Canyon South Rim while adventuring through the Southwest! Let us help you plan your Grand Canyon road trip stop.
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So, you’ve added the Grand Canyon to your vacation bucket list?! Right on!
It is easy to see the Grand Canyon in one day! When we visited the South Rim, located in Arizona, we paired it with a road trip from Sedona.
While visiting the South Rim, which we explored in a day, we spent the afternoon hiking a smaller section of the Bright Angel Trail along with driving the scenic route and stopping for photos along the lookouts. You can do the same thing!
Below are estimated times and distances to plan a road trip to the South Rim.
A few other National Parks near the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to easily pair during a road trip are below.
There is an entrance fee to enter the park.
As of 2021, the costs are:
Are you ready to plan your visit to the Grand Canyon? Below are the main activities to do in one day.
Once you get into the Park, you’ll likely head over to the Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village. There are a few buildings and museums to check out, including:
You can skip the Grand Canyon Village and Visitor Center if you are just there to hike and already know what you’d like to see and do.
Grand Canyon hiking is incredible! If you have time, we highly recommend hiking a section of the Bright Angel Trail.
How you get to the trailhead depends on the crowds and parking situation. If you are visiting during the off-season, you can likely find parking near the trailhead. If you visit during the busy season, score parking where you can, find a shuttle stop, and take the shuttle to the Bright Angel Trailhead.
Once you get to the trailhead, you can’t miss where the trail starts! Bright Angel Trail is easy to spot with a large sandstone rock. This is one of the best Grand Canyon South Rim hikes to do if you only have one day to explore.
Without a permit, you can easily hike Bright Angel Trail to the 3-mile rest house.
Hiking from the top of the canyon down to the 3-mile rest house and back is a 6-mile trip. There are a few places to get water along the trail. Bring a reusable water bottle.
The hike from the canyon rim to the 3-mile rest house makes for the perfect stop on your Southwest road trip! You can do this hike in a few hours.
You can hike further along the trail to Phantom Ranch but need to plan. This trail goes all the way to the Colorado River, and a permit is required to go further or connect to the North Rim.
If you aren’t too tired from hiking a section of Bright Angel Trail, head back along the rim and walk the Trail of Time.
The route is 2.83 miles, takes a little over an hour, is paved, and takes visitors through the geologic history of the Grand Canyon. It is really neat!
Did you know the Grand Canyon is over 2 billion years old!
After spending the morning hiking and walking, head back to the car, drive towards the east entrance to exit, and go on with your road trip.
While driving along Desert View Drive to the east entrance, stop to view the magnificent overlooks. This is another excellent opportunity for epic vistas, photos, and having a picnic. You might enjoy stopping at the Tusayan Museum and Ruin as well as the Desert View Watchtower closer to the east entrance.
The best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon is spring and fall. Summers can be hot, and it does get snow in the winter occasionally.
We have visited in the late spring – early summer, and temperatures were cooler during the mornings, warmer during the day, and cooler again at night. Outside of the primary summer season and holiday breaks are also excellent times of year to visit the Grand Canyon.
The elevation at the South Rim is around 7,000 feet. Overall, making it a place of extremes, so be sure to pack enough clothing, food, and water to enjoy an adventure.
There are two (2) campgrounds plus the Trailer Village. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time at recreation.gov to secure a spot!
As with camping, be sure to make reservations way in advance (like months in advance). There are a few lodges to stay in at the South Rim.
If you have trouble finding reservations, check out the hotels in Williams, AZ. That is one of the nearest towns by the South Rim entrance.
We wanted to share a few things to know before planning a one day visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Below are our recommendations for hiking gear while you explore the Grand Canyon.
Day Pack – we love this Osprey pack
Water bottles – 1 gallon per person per day in the desert (depending on how far you plan to hike)
Comfortable hiking boots
Women’s Oboz brand
Men’s Merrell hiking shoes
Trekking poles – I use these Leki carbon poles and have had them for over ten years!
Visit Grand Canyon National Park (to the NPS website) to download a free South Rim pocket map and services guide to help plan your trip.
Thanks for reading.
Ashlee & Pablo
Are you coming from the Sedona area? Or are you interested in also visiting the North Rim? Are you planning to visit Glen Canyon (Lake Powell)? You might also enjoy our other articles.
When are you planning to visit the South Rim? Drop us a comment if you have any questions! We would be happy to help.
I’m a travel and outdoor recreation writer with dreams to inspire happiness through an outdoorsy lifestyle. I want to help people live their best life by sharing free adventure guides. The USA has been my backyard most of my life, and it’s the place where you’ll find most of our escapades! I’m married to an expat Argentine, chihuahua Mom, and am passionate about the environment. I hold a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability. We camp in our Aliner often, love road trips, hiking, and SUP’ing!