This post is part of Just Ahead’s Grand Canyon Trip Planner—our guide to what you need to know to plan your trip to Grand Canyon National Park. Click here to see the complete series, and be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Grand Canyon before you head to the park.
During the many days of field research we put into creating our Just Ahead guide to Grand Canyon National Park, we came to acquire some definite favorite places in the park, and we discovered a few overlooked gems along the way. Here’s our personal guide to the best things to do at the Grand Canyon.
The Don’t-Miss Things to Do in Grand Canyon
Drive Desert View Drive
Desert View Drive is the one rim road that you can drive year-round. It links superb viewpoints such as Lipan Point and Navajo Point with man-made fascinations such as the 12th-century Tusayan Ruins and the 20th-century marvel, Desert View Watchtower—the seven-story stone edifice designed by fabled architect Mary Jane Colter. It’s a great drive, and Just Ahead will guide you every step of the way.
Walk the Rim Trail
When you want to stretch your legs, the two words you’ll want to remember are “Rim Trail.” Extending roughly 13 miles from the South Kaibab trailhead in the east to Hermits Rest in the west, this walkway is mostly flat and paved. But if you get tired of hoofing it, you’re never far from one of the stops for Grand Canyon National Park’s free shuttle buses.
Catch Sunrise at Hopi Point
While the Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight any time of day, sunrise bathes the canyon walls in a cool light that brings out the greens of the piñon pine and juniper trees just below the canyon rim, along with blue shadows that add a distinct sense of depth to the scene. Our favorite spot for sunrise in Grand Canyon is Hopi Point, which is on Hermit Road and the Rim Trail.
Catch Sunset at Navajo Point
Sunset brings a warmer lighting palette that amplifies the reds and oranges in the canyon walls and rims the clouds overhead in a golden glow laced with the pinks and purples of twilight. Our favorite spot for sunset in Grand Canyon is Navajo Point on Desert View Road—it’s the highest overlook in the park (7,500 feet) and often less crowded than other viewpoints.