The Grand Canyon's most beautiful sights

A photo trip along the Grand Canyon South Rim


Recognized as one of the grand seven natural wonders of the world, the magnificent Grand Canyon is probably Arizona's most distinguishable landmark. Our first visit there dates back to 2008. It was also our very first trip to the United States of America, and back then my husband wasn't overly happy of flying so many hours from Naples to Los Angeles. He'd been dubious until we passed Tusayan (AZ), about two miles (4km) away from the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. I swear he stood still and silent for a good twenty minutes, watching the majestic view in front of us. 277 miles (445km) from end to end, an average of 10 miles wide (16km) and nearly one mile deep (1,6km), it was by far the biggest and most impressive natural monument we'd ever seen before. After absorbing all that beauty, he turned towards me and solemnly swore he was coming back to spend more time there, because that year we'd planned a pretty short stay in the area.
In 2014 we planned our multi-stop honeymoon I already told you about, and we finally managed to fulfill his wish: we got back to the Grand Canyon to explore the most beautiful sights on the South Rim.
We found a nice room at the Yavapai Lodge, thanks to the wonderful Xanterra staff. The lodge is situated in the pine and juniper woodlands between Yavapai Point and El Tovar, just minutes away from the canyon rim. In case you are planning to explore the Grand Canyon, I strongly suggest to book one of the Xanterra facilities inside. The first time we slept in Williams, but even if we had fun, going back and forth definitely wasted precious time. There's nothing better than to sleep inside a park, especially if you're planning some sunrise or sunset shots. As usual, remember to book on time, because you might not find vacancies.
Inside the Grand Canyon National Park there's also a very nice trailer village and five hotels and lodges, all of them managed by Xanterra.

Desert View Road offers some of the most beautiful sights at the Grand Canyon
The stunning beauty of the Desert View Point at Sunset.

Desert View Road

The first area that in my opinion holds the most beautiful sights at the Grand Canyon is the Desert View Road, where the Vermillion Cliffs, the San Francisco Peaks, the Painted Desert and the Colorado River come into view. This 25 miles (40km) drive is accessible with private vehicles, and offers six developed viewpoints, five unmarked pullouts, camping areas and four picnic points.
You can reach the area also using the Kaibab Rim Route free shuttle bus (Orange), departing from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The only point that isn't accessible with a private vehicle is Yaki Point, that can be reached only using the Orange shuttle bus. It is a particularly quiet viewpoint, but it can be pretty crowded at Sunset, because of the beautiful photographs you can take here. That's also why you might have to wait in line for your shuttle bus when you'll get back! I think it is the most evocative viewpoint on the Desert View Road, as it is considered like the "Zabriskie Point" of the Grand Canyon.


Yaki Point is also considered the Zabriskie Point of the Grand Canyon
Yaki Point can be pretty crowded at Sunset

On this route you will find Moran Point. It's one of the areas where the three main rock groups in the Grand Canyon are clearly visible. The Layered Paleozoic Rocks are the sedimentary rocks that make most of the canyon's depth. The Grand Canyon Supergroup that is the most significant geologic record, visible only in a few spots along the rim and yet very important because it allowed us to understand so much about this nature's wonder, and the Vishnu Basement Rocks, the oldest rocks of the canyon. Moran Point is due south of Cape Royal on the North Rim, just 8 miles (13km) away in a straight line, but a whopping 215 miles (346km) by road. It is named after the painter Thomas Moran, who got there in 1873 and helped the Grand Canyon to become more popular, leading to its incorporation as a national monument in 1908 and later on a national park, in 1919.

The suggestive sights at Moran Point, Grand Canyon
The different rock groups at Moran Point
Lipan Point is half a mile (800m) North of the main scenic drive, and from this viewpoint you will be able to reach several points of interest. A short distance away from the parking lot you can start the 8 mile (13km) Tanner Trail. It looks fown over the Seventyfive Mile Creek and the Escalante butte. The creek joins the Colorado River between the sets of rapids called Hance Rapid. South of the Seventyfive Mile Creek there's a great view of the cliffs below Pinal Point, and moving round to the East, you will find the Unkar Delta, at the end of Unkar Creek. The area is quite different from the rest of the angular rocks at the Grand Canyon, because the sandstone eroded into rounded hills: it's another great area if you want to take pictures!


From Lipan Point you can access some beautiful areas at the Grand Canyon
From Lipan Point you can access the Tanner Trail: bring your camera along!

Hermit Road

This is another area that offers particularly beautiful sights of the Grand Canyon. Yet between March 1st and November 30, Hermit Road can only be accessed by the Red shuttle buses, that provide transportation between the Village Route Transfer Station and Hermits Rest. It is long 7 miles (11km) with 9 stops on beautiful overlooks. When we've been there, a few elder travellers decided to stay on the bus because they didn't feel like walking. The whole round trip lasts 75 minutes and you can still take decent pictures, so in case you or your kids are too tired, you can still explore with this free shuttle bus!
Hopi point is the fourth stop on this red route, the northern spot on this part of the south rim and the first point where you can see a better perspective of the Grand Canyon. From Hopi Point you can see all the way to the Havasupai Point and the Great Scenic Divide. The viewpoint has a fenced viewing area that overlooks the Dana Butte, a flat mesa 2000 feet (609m) below the overlook. Because of the beautiful view, it's another perfect spot for viewing the Sunset, in case Yaki Point is too crowded!

Hopi Point is the fourth stop on the red route at the Grand Canyon
From Hopi Point you can see all the way to Havasupai Point and the Great Scenic Divide

Along the Hermits Road you can access the Canyon Rim Trail that follows the rim of the canyon for 7,8 miles (12,6km), offering you the chance to walk between the viewpoints on both paved and dirt trails. If you decide to go on the Canyon Rim Trail, make sure you have a good pair of hiking boots that also protect your ankles. In this area there's also a beautiful paved greenway trail that is perfect for a a trip with your bycicle.

Hermits Rest is a few stops after Hopi Point, right before the road turns back to the Village Route Transfer. (On the return trip the Red Shuttle Bus stops only at Pima Point, Mohave Point and Powell Point!) Here we stumbled on  small stone structure nestled back into a mound of earth that opens into the canyon. Even if it looks like an old miner's cabin, this structure has been built by Mary Colter, one of the Grand Canyon's most famous architects, in 1914. The details are perfect, you will find a giant fireplace and a front porch. Inside there's a gift shop and a small snack bar. You will find restrooms here, and we found them pretty useful after hiking most of the day!
In Winter I've been told that the weary hikers sit down beside the huge fireplace and I can't even imagine how beautiful it can be! If you stop by at the snack bar, they have delicious freshly baked cookies!

You are of course invited to have a ride and a hike on the other two shuttle buses lines along the South Rim, in case you still have some time. If you want to experience the park, you should book a room for at least three or four days.
If you only have one day (like us on our first visit)  you should wake up early to go to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center to watch the park film and enjoy the view from Mather Point, then move over to the Desert View Drive. Unless you spend a lot of time at each viewpoint, you might also be able to hop on the red shuttle bus for some of the beautiful sights I suggested above. 

Even a single day on the South Rim can in fact afford pleasant walks with spectacular sights: don't get discouraged! In case you fall in love with the Grand Canyon like us, you can always come back for more!


Hermits Rest offers restrooms and a snack bar for the weary hikers at the Grand Canyon
Hermits Rest looks like an old miner's cabin

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Grand Canyon | Grand Canyon photos | Grand Canyon Itinerary

29 comments

  1. This is stunning. In my bucket list 😊😊😊 love the pictures.

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  2. WOW!!! What an awesome trip. Your photos are gorgeous - very nice work! I've always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon, and this has really inspired me. :-)

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  3. What excellent images! Grand Canyon is so high on our bucket list, just have to find the time! We are living in Canada now at least (from the UK) so a bit closer! How long would you say is the ideal amount of time to visit?

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  4. You have some great photos! I would love to visit the Grand Canyon someday and it's great to learn some of the best vantage points to see it and take photos. I've only been to Waimea Canyon in Hawaii which they say is the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

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  5. Okay, I LOVE the pictures! I made sure to save this for later so I can properly plan my Grand Canyon adventure! We love hiking in the great outdoors!

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  6. We visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon for the first time this past October, but had a two-hour commute to get there so only spent most of one single day. That was nowhere near enough. It was a rainy day, but still beautiful, and it cleared up toward sunset. We walked portions of the rim trail, hopping on and off the shuttle bus. One thing I really enjoyed was crossing the path of a guy playing his flute as he walked along the trail. He was just taking it all in and enjoying it with music. We'll be back, will stay in the park campground, and plan on much longer than one day to explore.

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  7. I remember as a kid my mom took us to the Grand Canyon and I didn't want to go. At all. I thought it was going to be a big dumb hole in the ground. I was blown away when we got there. It's amazing. Your pics are great. I would love to go back.

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  8. Your pictures are beautiful. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Grand Canyon. It was great being able to remember an amazing time through your photographs.

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  9. Love all your photos! I am planning on making it to the Grand Canyon next year! Can't wait :)

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  10. That's one of those epic destinations I'd love to see. Love your photos :)

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  11. Wow your photos are so beautiful. I really want to visit here now. Looks like an incredible place.

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  12. Stunning! I am constantly amazed by how beautiful nature is on its own.

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  13. What a excellent scenery! It is one of those destinations which i would like to explore.

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  14. The Grand Canyon is beautiful! I remember that I forgot to breath when I first saw it and your photographs brought back that feeling!

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  15. Super ideas for a view we will be there this summer and will have to check out Hermits road for sure! thanks for haring!

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  16. Great post thanks for sharing! This is really useful as I can imagine the vastness of the Grand Canyon, that it would be stressful trying to seek out the most beautiful viewpoints!

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  17. For some silly reason, when we were in Vegas we didn't do the Grand Canyon. At the time, I just decided it was a big hole and I knew what it looked like. Wow, can't believe what a stupid statement that was. Looking forward to getting back there so I can actually check it out.

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  18. I really can't believe I have yet to visit the Grand Canyon. Your photos take my breath away but I'm sure it's even more stunning in person. I especially love the view from Moran point. Great post, thanks for sharing :)

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  19. Visiting the Grand Canyon was definitely a memorable travel experience for me. You've captured it BEAUTIFULLY. I'd love to check out Desert View Road next time I visit. Oh yes, there will be a next time! Thanks for sharing :)

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  20. Grand Canyon looks beautiful and amazing!

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  21. This looks like the ultimate dram trip. I've never visited the Grand Canyon Area but I would love to see it. Very helpful recommendations.

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  22. The grand canyon is so beautiful! I've always wanted to visit and now I have this post as a guide to help me when I do one day!

    -Kiara
    www.viaisabelle.com

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  23. We visited it few months ago and I must say it was the most spectacular view ever... We made it just before the sunset, so fortunately it wasn"t crowded! :)

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  24. This post is full of valuable information, thanks for putting all of this together (links, photos, etc.). I've been to Grand Canyon, but I'd definitely come back and explore the places i haven't been to!
    I do have pretty bad memories about it, though, because our bus driver lost consciousness and we crashed. So next time... I'll drive myself...

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  25. The Grand Canyon is on my list - the landscapes look absolutely beautiful and so different from anything I've seen before! I love hiking so I think I would love this area. Thanks for the tips - will save for a future trip!

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  26. I have only flown over the Grand Canyon, and I enjoyed what I saw each time. Apparently, after seeing your gorgeous photos, I need a repeat visit! ;) Beautiful. I love how you mentioned the points so I can plan to see that exact scenic area. ;)

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  27. Your pictures are beautiful. We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Grand Canyon. It was great being able to remember an amazing time through your photographs.

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  28. Wow, those are some breathtaking views!

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  29. Some great photos. The Grand Canyon is one of those places we've always meant to go but haven't as of yet. Love the views, Moran point in particular.

    Frank (bbqboy)

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