The full Grand Canyon experience cannot be encompassed in just one viewpoint, or simply one overlook – there is so much to this rich, diverse, and deeply beautiful natural wonder that you simply have to devote an entire vacation to exploring its many sights and sounds. While this list is by no means exhaustive, here is a sample of the most significant sites that are in, around, or associated with the Grand Canyon. Keep in mind that a vacation incorporating all of these points of interest would be a healthy one indeed – so plan carefully!
About 90% of all visitors to the Grand Canyon prefer to visit the South Rim, due to easier accessibility and year-round availability. Home to dozens of viewpoints, historic architecture, hiking trails and camping sites, as well as the majority of the National Park Service infrastructure, there’s more than enough to see and do here to last three vacations. The Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center is located here, as are many important resources, typically found in Grand Canyon Village.
Located directly on the South Rim, the village is dedicated to serving the thousands upon thousands of tourists who visit the Grand Canyon each day, Grand Canyon Village provides essential resources to travelers. Although it’s only about 13 square miles in size, it’s home to important amenities like ATMs, restaurants, a general store, a post office, gas stations, and more. The town itself is also part of the Grand Canyon Historic District, and is a valuable place to look for historic buildings and structures.
Attracting far less traffic than the South Rim, the North Rim is the more elusive, but no less beautiful, rim of the Grand Canyon. Home to a delightful historic district, several viewpoints, and some absolutely gorgeous stretches of wilderness, it’s worth the extra effort to take advantage of these beautiful views. The North Rim is open to the public only from May 15 to October 15 of each year, and is regularly far less crowded, making it an attractive option for those looking into more individual Grand Canyon experiences.
Owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, Grand Canyon West is actually separate from the National Park. Here is where you’ll find Eagle and Guano Points, the famous Skywalk, and the Hualapai Ranch – a must-visit destination for fans of American southwest culture. As part of the Hualapai Indian Reservation, it’s also an important place to go to explore more about their native culture and traditions.
A visit here is a must for any first time visitor to the Grand Canyon National Park. Showing on a loop the film “Grand Canyon – The Hidden Secrets,” it’s the perfect introduction to the park’s history, its natural wonders, and its accommodations. The film is a mere 34 minutes long, meaning it won’t take a big chuck out of your exploration time. This theater was also one of the first IMAX theaters ever built, so it’s doubly impressive.
Once the most significant dam in the world at the time of its construction, the Hoover Dam is still remarkable decades later. Located in the Black Canyon (and forming the barrier that holds in the massive Lake Mead), the Hoover Dam attracts tourists each year who flock to see this marvel of early twentieth-century engineering. Tour the powerplant and the dam, see the spillways and intake towers, and even walk across the dam itself!
One of the most significant waterways in the entire United States, the Colorado River runs through seven U.S. States and two Mexican states, passing through the Grand Canyon along the way. It’s visible from most (but not all) Grand Canyon viewpoints, and is accessible for rafting, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking from many locations. It’s best known for its amazing whitewater rafting excursions, available from many points along the river.
Also known as “Grand Canyon East,” Desert View Point marks the easternmost entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s a popular place for “first views” of the canyon for visitors centering from the east, and also marks the transition between National Park lands and Native American territory. The Desert View Watchtower, designed by architect Mary E.J. Colter, is a 70-foot-tall observation tower that provides amazing panoramic views of the Grand Canyon.
Because it’s just adjacent to the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center and Entrance Station, Mather Point is typically the place where most visitors to the National Park get their first glimpse into the canyon. A quick walk from Canyon View Plaza, and you’re all set to take those first photos of one of America’s most beautiful natural wonders. Just be sure not to spend all your time here – it’s going to be crowded, and there are better views further along the trail.
On Desert View Drive, Moran Point is another very popular destination for visitors. It’s a little bit further away, and provides more picturesque views. Keep an eye out for the Red Canyon and the Colorado Butte, as well as for a variety of geological features including several major rock types. This is also a popular destination for dedicated hikers, as it’s the starting point for the challenging New Hance Trail.
Just a little bit north of Desert View Drive, Lipan Point offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the Grand Canyon below. With almost entirely unobstructed views of the Colorado River and several unique rock formations (including the rare Grand Canyon Supergroup), it’s a photographer’s paradise. Be sure to stop by near sunset for some of the most amazing pictures you’ll ever take.
Home to the Hualapai Indian Tribe, this reservation is private land that encompasses the territory of Grand Canyon West. While the most popular things to do on this reservation are generally the tourist attractions at GCW (including Eagle & Guano Points, and the Skywalk), there are other natural attractions including large tracts of wilderness, rafting and hiking, and even hunting.
Located in Grand Canyon West, Eagle Point and Guano Point are two of the most significant viewpoints on the western edge of the canyon. Part of the Hualapai territory, these two points are not included with National Park admission, but they’re worth the extra admission cost to see their amazing perspectives on a different angle of the canyon. Here is where you’ll also find the unparalleled Skywalk, an all-glass platform that extends out over the canyon ledge for intimate (and intimidating!) views below.
The Lake Mead National Recreation Area may be the closest thing to paradise in this region of the world. Featuring Lake Mead and Lake Mojave, this area abounds with things to do for the outdoorsman. From swimming and sunbathing on scenic rocky beaches to hiking and exploring to fishing and hunting, there’s something for every taste. Don’t forget to bring camping supplies, as you’ll want to stay more than one day in this amazing place.
Located just on the border of Arizona and Nevada, the Black Canyon Wilderness is a marvelous place to explore. It’s part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and is the perfect place for hiking or serene kayaking. It’s also a must-visit for animal lovers or fans of archeology, as evidence of both can be found in abundance in this 17,000+ acre preserve.
Located just southeast of Page, AZ, Antelope Canyon is among the most photographed sites in the American southwest. Its unique sandstone formations capture changing daylight in striking ways, and walks through this canyon are great sightseeing and photographic opportunities.
This distinctive horseshoe-shaped curve in the Colorado River is one of Glen Canyon’s most striking views, and provides countless photographers with the shot of a lifetime. It’s accessible via a quick, easy hike, and is a must-see attraction within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
El Dorado Canyon
El Dorado Canyon was once home to some of America’s most profitable gold and silver mines and was in use until World War II. Today, you can enjoy a comprehensive tour of Techatticup Mine (the region’s most famous gold mine), as well as rent canoes and kayaks to pop onto the Black Canyon Water Trail. Interested parties can also get historic photos taken for a unique souvenir!