Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Kelly
A trip to the Grand Canyon’s south rim would not be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon Rim Trail. The Rim Trail is the very first thing we did when we arrived to the South Rim! While most visitors flocked to Mather Point for a first glimpse of the canyon, we hurried to the Hermit Road shuttle so we could beat the crowds at the Rim Trail.
The Rim Trail is a mostly-paved trail that connects 9 scenic viewpoints along the Grand Canyon. There is a shuttle that connects each of the view points, so you can walk as much or as little of the trail as you’d like! In this post, we’ll share everything you need to know to see the viewpoints along the the Rim Trail.
Rim Trail: Key Information
Here’s a few basic things you should know about the Rim Trail:
- Length: 7.1 miles one-way (From Village Route Transfer to Hermits Rest)
- Elevation Gain: Approximately 200 feet (relatively flat)
- Accessibility: Most of the trail is paved, but some sections have too steep of a grade to meet ADA standards
- Operating Hours: The Grand Canyon is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Trailhead Access: We hopped on the shuttle at Village Route Transfer to take the Hermit Road Shuttle to the first viewpoint (Red Route)
As you prepare for your trip to the Grand Canyon, don’t forget to pick up a guide book! Here’s a few to consider:
How Long Do You Need to Complete the Rim Trail?
You can spend as long as little as you like at the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon.
If you choose to just ride the shuttle to Hermits Rest and back, it will take you 80 minutes.
If you walk the full trail one-way, Google Maps estimates it will take you 3 hours and 12 minutes.
If you’re like us, you’ll probably do a mix of walking, admiring the viewpoints, and using the shuttle. For us, we spent about a half day doing the Rim Trail. We took the shuttle bus and hopped off at several of the most popular overlooks. However, you could easily spend more time there (especially if you want to walk a lot of the trail).
How to Get to the Grand Canyon Rim Trail
To reach the Rim Trail, we first parked our vehicle in Lot D near the Maswik Lodge. From there, we walked about 15 minutes to the Village Route Transfer shuttle stop. Even though we visited the Grand Canyon during June, there wasn’t a line for the shuttle. This was a welcome break after our experience at Zion, in which the shuttle line was at least an hour long! We found that the shuttle was much less busy during the morning, and more people came in the afternoon. (The opposite was true at Zion. The shuttle lines were really busy in the morning, and they were less crowded in the afternoon.)
See our recommendations for how to spend one day at the Grand Canyon!
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Using the Shuttle to See the Rim Trail
The shuttle was quick and easy to navigate. It runs in a loop, so you’ll start and end at the Village Route Transfer stop.
We had no problems bringing our stroller on the shuttle. We were just asked to fold it in half before boarding. If you have a baby hiking carrier, you’ll need to remove it when you are seated.
You can also load your bicycle on the shuttle bus too. (You’ll just have to load and unload it yourself.) The shuttles cannot accommodate baby trailers, children’s bicycles with wheels less than 16 inches, or folding bikes.
Hermits Road is closed to private vehicles most of the year. (You can only drive there yourself December, January, and February). The rest of the year, you can use the shuttle, walk the full trail, or ride a bicycle. If you choose to ride a bicycle, just be sure to move over any time a shuttle is approaching. The road does not have a separate bicycle lane.
You can bring your leashed dog to walk the Grand Canyon Rim Trail. However, only service animals are allowed on the shuttle.
The 9 Scenic Overlooks Along the Grand Canyon Rim Trail
There are nine separate scenic overlooks along the trail. Each of them has a unique view of the canyon, and only some of them have pit toilets. Here’s our summary of each of the lookouts:
- Trail view Overlook: This stop is .5 miles west of the Village Route Transfer stop. You’ll have a great view of Bright Angel Canyon.
- Maricopa Point: This stop is 1.1 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. You’ll have a 180-degree unobstructed view of the Grand Canyon. You can also view Orphan Mine from this location.
- Powell Point: This stop is 1.8 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. The Powell Memorial is at this stop. You can climb up the stairs for a closer look at the monument, as well as impressive views of the canyon.
- Hopi Point: This stop is 2.1 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. There are vault toilets at this stop. You’ll also be able to see the Colorado River.
- Mohave Point: This stop is 3.1 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. You’ll have more views of the Colorado River.
- The Abyss: This stop is 4.2 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. You’ll see the role of gravity in shaping the Grand Canyon.
- Monument Creek Vista: This stop is 5.2 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. You’ll be able to see Monument Creek and Granite Rapid of the Colorado River.
- Pima Point: This stop is 6.7 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. You’ll be able to see the Cataract Plains.
- Hermit’s Rest: This stop is 7.8 miles west of the Village Route Transfer Stop. There are restrooms and running water available at this stop. There’s also a gift shop with a snack counter. If you want to hike the Hermit Trail, this is where you access the trailhead.
The infograph below will help you choose which places to stop for your trip!
Important things to note are that there are vault toilets at Hopi Point and Hermits Rest. You can also purchase snacks and sandwiches at the Hermits Rest snack counter.
It’s honestly hard to say which shuttle stops were our favorites. If we had to choose, we would probably say Maricopa Point and Hopi Point. We liked Maricopa Point because the viewing platform seems to jut out into the canyon. We liked Hopi Point because of the expansive views and interpretive signs.
What to Bring With You to the Rim Trail
Be sure to bring plenty of water when you hike the Rim Trail. Until you reach Hermits Rest, there are no places to purchase water or refill a water bottle. (Bring more water than you think you’ll need!) We like to use an insulated water bottle to keep our water ice-cold for as long as possible.
If you don’t have one already, bring a good day pack.
Finally, we also recommend that you bring binoculars. (We wish we would have brought them, so learn from our mistake!) You’ll definitely want to see all of the details and rock formations from a distance!
The Hermit Trail
If you have the energy, you may choose to hike the Hermit Trail. At the Hermits Rest shuttle stop, at the end of the Rim Trail, you will have trail access to the Hermit Trail. The Hermit Trail is an 18.6 mile long out-and-back trail. There are a lot of junctions and sights to see along the way, so you can customize the hike to see what you want to see.
The trail was named after Louis D. Boucher, who helped to develop some of the trails and seasonal residences. Although he was called a hermit because he lived alone, he was actually quite socially active and enjoyed sharing the views with visitors.
If you’re looking for a place to stay near the Grand Canyon, we stayed at the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn. This hotel had both an indoor and an outdoor pool, and a huge fitness center. We especially liked the indoor pool because our toddler could play in the pool and we didn’t have to worry about sun protection. The common areas were also very beautiful, and we really enjoyed our breakfast there each morning. We enjoyed the hotel and would recommend it to others.
Summary: Our Experience Hiking the Rim Trail
The Rim Trail was one of the highlights of our trip to the Grand Canyon. We really enjoyed the views from the Rim Trail. Each viewpoint was unique, and it was very convenient to use the shuttle to hop between the various stops. We traveled with a toddler, so we found that the Rim Trail was very family-friendly. We could use our stroller, take rest-breaks on the shuttle, and still see most of the Grand Canyon in a short amount of time. If you visit the Grand Canyon, you absolutely have to visit the Rim Trail.
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