How to Plan a Grand Canyon Vacation – Part III
Part III: South Rim’s Best Trails
From finding out which trails are ideal for different levels of activity to selecting must-see sites during your visit to the Grand Canyon, Xanterra Travel Collection® brings you the ultimate insider tips on how to plan for a trip that will be etched in cherished memories forever.
Take to the Trail
How do you plan to explore this Natural Wonder of the World? Take one of these day hikes for a different perspective on the awe-inspiring canyon views. Please note that it is highly recommended that you check the status of any trail prior to embarking on your hike. For the latest information on trail statuses, consult the NPS website.
Marvel at the magnificent views as you walk along the Rim Trail, which extends from the Historic Village to Hermits Rest. It’s an excellent choice for those looking for an easy walk on a partially paved and mostly flat path, with plenty of opportunities for quiet reflection, photography and learning about the canyon’s geologic history.
The Bright Angel Trail
Dip below the canyon’s edge on this famous trail that begins just west of Bright Angel Lodge. Day hikes that range in distance up to twelve miles round trip are possible. Note that the upper portion of the trail may be extremely icy in winter or early spring and crampons are recommended. For an experience of a lifetime, travel this trail by mule!
The South Kaibab Trail
Day hikes on this steep trail that begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road offer tremendous views. This challenging South Kaibab Trail has no water and little shade in the warmer months, so make sure to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat for the journey. The upper portion of the trail may be extremely icy in winter or early spring.
Opened in 1905, was designed by Mary E.J. Colter to reflect a typical adobe pueblo used by the Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi. A National Historic Landmark, the Hopi House has been offering authentic Native American arts and crafts to visitors for purchase for decades. Visit to combine museum-quality artifact viewing with retail shopping for hand-crafted kachinas, Native American jewelry, hand-woven Navajo rugs and authentic Native American pottery.
Another Colter design, the Lookout Studio clings to the edge of the rim, providing impressive views. Two small outdoor overlooks are open in good weather.
The El Tovar Stables
Built in 1904, were constructed to house horses and mules used for transportation around the park in pre-automobile times, and continue to be used to house mules for trips to Phantom Ranch, located on the floor of the Canyon.The Grand Canyon Depot (1910) and Grand Canyon Railway (1905). The depot, designed by Francis W. Wilson, is an individually listed National Historical Landmark and is the last log depot still in use in the United States , and the railway is on the National Register of Historic Places. Take note as the beautifully restored trains rumble into the station.
Once the home of the Kolb brothers, early photographers of the Grand Canyon, Kolb studios is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated by the Grand Canyon Conservancy. Located at the start of the Bright Angel trailhead, visit to peruse the bookstore and view the changing art exhibits offered throughout the year.
Ask a Ranger
The Grand Canyon was six million years in the making so it stands to reason you’d have a few questions during your relatively short stay. National Park Service Rangers love to share stories and their expertise during scheduled Ranger talks or along the trail. Don’t hesitate to unleash your curiosity about the region’s geology, human history or your upcoming hike.Upon your return home, your friends may ask about your visit to the Grand Canyon. You’ll pause, smile, search for the right words, and say, “You simply must see for yourself!”