South Rim Drives
The Rim Drives
The 16-mile-round-trip West Rim Drive takes in Hopi, Maricopa, and Pima viewpoints and the breathtaking Abyss, where the Great Mojave Wall plunges 3,000 feet to the sweeping Tonto Platform and the Colorado River is visible. Powell Point has a memorial to river runner John Wesley Powell and a view of Orphan Mine, one of the last mines in use in the Grand Canyon.
Hermits Rest, where French-Canadian Louis Boucher lived, prospected, and grew produce in the Canyon in the 1890s, is a perfect place to watch the sun set or to attempt a challenging hike. The rocky Hermit Trail meets up with several others below. Snacks and gifts are sold in the historic stone building designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, and rest rooms are available. The road ends here, but Grand Canyon continues for another 180 miles. It may be explored by hiking the backcountry trails or by boat on the Colorado River.
The 46-mile-round-trip East Rim Drive to Desert View and the East Entrance is a must. Stop off at Yavapai Observation Station for an introduction to Grand Canyon geology.
Yaki Point offers glorious, unobstructed canyon views, best seen from the South Kaibab Trail, which goes to the inner canyon. The distinctive conical buttes that populate the Canyon are clearly seen here. Shaped by the powerful erosional forces of wind and water, these stone monuments were dubbed "temples" in 1880 by geologist Clarence Dutton, a student of Eastern religions.
At Grandview Point, miner Pete Berry built a trail in the 1880s down to his mine at Horseshoe Mesa, the remains of which can be seen on the Grandview Trail.
Moran Point, named for painter and Canyon booster Thomas Moran, also offers views of Hance Canyon, the home of the colorful John Hance, who like Berry mined and took tourists into the Canyon.
Take a tour of Tusayan Indian Ruin and Museum and view a small 12th-century ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pueblo. Learn how the neighboring Hopi continue a similar lifestyle today.
Desert View, where the Vermilion Cliffs, San Francisco Peaks, Painted Desert, and Colorado River come into view, is the pièce de résistance of your drive. Climb Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter's Watchtower, a re-creation of an ancestral Puebloan structure. A store, snack bar, rest rooms, gas station (open seasonally), and gift shop make this a pleasant destination.