For most visitors to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, Mather Point is the first place to see that iconic canyon vista. Close to the entrance station and just a brief walk from the Canyon View Plaza, Mather Point is the nearest (and one of the best, if most crowded) view of the Canyon for visitors. Rising to over 7,100 feet above sea level, and featuring two primary overlooks and a number of additional viewing locations along the rim in either direction, this is a good initial place to scope out this iconic natural wonder.
Mather Point History and Background Information
Mather Point is one of several popular viewpoints along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is located directly adjacent to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and is just a short jaunt from the parking lot. At this point, visitors are exactly ten miles across from the North Rim of the Canyon.
Mather Point was named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service and a man who worked tirelessly to get the Grand Canyon classified as a National Park. Crucially, Mather was a proponent of uniting all of the national parks under a single agency, a shift that has been credited with the continued success of the National Park system. He was also responsible for encouraging and developing tourism in the region, and the Grand Canyon would not be what it is today without his efforts.
What’s at Mather Point
Mather Point is the first view of the Grand Canyon for many visitors, and it makes a pretty great first impression. In addition to the impressive perspective on the canyon, visitors will see the Colorado River – a mile deep into the canyon – and a variety of colorful rock types including Vishnu Schist, Kaibab Limestone, and Coconino Sandstone. Mather Point is, however, likely to be among the most crowded because of its convenient location, so visitors would be well-advised to continue along the South Rim to better viewpoints after a brief stop here.
Mather Point has two main overlooks, both of which are a bit narrow but offer the protection of railings. They stick out into the Canyon, which helps out the photographers among your group. There are also several other smaller viewpoints without railings, especially on the nearby Rim Trail, which leads all the way to Yavapai Point to the west and Yaki Point to the east.
There are easily accessible bathrooms and a café nearby, in addition to a bookstore that sells way more than just books, the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, and ample parking (at the Visitor Center only). Visitors will also enjoy the Mather Amphitheater, which provides stunning views of the Canyon from convenient limestone seating, in addition to hosting informative ranger talks on a variety of introductory topics.
Tips for Visiting Mather Point
- Because recent improvements to the area removed the available parking at Mather Point itself, guests will need to park in the Visitor’s Center area instead (which boasts plenty of parking).
- This is also where you’ll find one of the shuttle bus transit centers, just south of the parking lot. Hop on any one of three routes for free!
- Pretty much every bus tour to the South Rim will stop at Mather Point.
- There are combo tours by Maverick Airlines, Maverick Helicopters and Papillon Grand Canyon Tours.
- Bathrooms are located at the north end of the commercial parking lot.
- If you want to spend more time at Mather Point, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it at the designated picnic spot.
- For the campers among you, there is also an extremely popular campground here – but watch out, it gets crowded fast.