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Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim -Mather Point, Bright Angel Lodge

Updated on April 2, 2013

Mother Nature labored millions of years to design the Grand Canyon. Her efforts produced one of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring wonders of the world. At 277 miles long, the canyon is 6,000 feet, or more than one mile, deep at its deepest point and 18 miles wide at its widest.

The most panoramic view of the canyon is at its South Rim, where several observation areas provide the perfect perch to take in the canyon's majesty. More than 5 million people visit the canyon each year, and 90 percent choose to visit the South Rim.

Mather Point is the first observation point visitors to Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim encounter. Named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, it's where Canyon View Information Plaza, the park's visitors center, is located. The visitors center includes a bookstore, interactive exhibits and restrooms.

The visitors center is a short walk to observation points overlooking the canyon. There's hardly a description that would do justice to the view that awaits, but a picture, perhaps, will give an idea...

Grand Canyon, South Rim, at Mather Point
Grand Canyon, South Rim, at Mather Point | Source
Bright Angel Lodge
Bright Angel Lodge | Source

Another great observation point of the Canyon is at Bright Angel Lodge. Walk through the front doors of the rustic lodge and right out the back, and there it is - the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of spots along the rim of the canyon for great photo opportunities, including a two-story gift shop with an observation deck on top that provides the extraordinary perspective of being at near eye level with the top of the canyon's peaks.

The lodge itself, designed in 1935, is a Registered National Historic Landmark and includes
a restaurant, ice cream shop, a gift shop and history room, as well as lodge rooms and cabins for rent.

An artist captures the canyon's majesty on canvas.
An artist captures the canyon's majesty on canvas. | Source

There are other observation points along the South Rim to get a different perspective of the canyon, including Yavapai Point, which offers views of the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch, which provides overnight accommodations for the more adventurous visitors to the canyon.

Yaki Point is the ideal spot to catch the exhilarating sunrise at the canyon. Pima Point at the westernmost point of the South Rim also provides excellent views of the Colorado River. Mohave Point is best for viewing the sunset.

There are several other observation points along the South Rim, and Grand Canyon National Park offers a free shuttle service for visitors to many.

The park is a hiker's paradise, with many scenic trails, some that wind all the way down to the bottom of the canyon. If going it on foot doesn't sound appealing, mule rentals - yes, mule!- are available.

Summer is peak tourist season. The least crowded time of year to visit the canyon is November through February. Winter weather can make such a visit more risky for hikers and motorists alike, but views of the canyon covered in snow are spectacular.

The drive by bus from Las Vegas is very scenic.
The drive by bus from Las Vegas is very scenic. | Source

Traveling from Las Vegas

Tourists to Las Vegas who have the time won't be disappointed they took a day to visit the South Rim. It's 278 miles from Vegas, and a tour bus trip can make for a very long day, typically between 13 and 15 hours from pick up on the Vegas strip to drop off. Numerous tour companies offer bus or helicopter tours from Vegas.

A few tips for visitors deciding to book a tour:

* Do research online before arriving in Las Vegas to avoid making hasty, last minute decisions and paying more. Often, companies offer better deals online. Also be sure to read reviews of companies on sites like, where other tourists share their experiences, good and bad, with the company.

* Double check to make sure the tour bus will pick up at your hotel. Sometimes the literature/website states there is hotel pickup, but in fact, they only pick up at designated hotels along the strip. If your hotel isn't one of them, you'll have to get transportation or walk to the nearest pick up spot.

* Ask whether meals are included in the tour price and what food will be provided. Most tour companies provide at least breakfast or lunch, sometimes both, with meals ranging from a full buffet to a granola bar and juice. Most also make stops along the way for passengers to use the restroom and purchase snacks and drinks. Bottled water should be provided, given the dry desert heat and risk of dehydration, but ask beforehand to make sure.

* If someone in your party has difficulty walking, ask how much walking will be on the tour. Some tours drop passengers off at lookout points and there is minimal walking, while others require two to three hours of walking.

* Find out how much time you'll spend at the Grand Canyon. Two to three hours is typical for bus tours. The time passes quickly - there are usually plenty of other tourists there and it takes time to jockey for a good view and photo opportunity. Don't squander time in the gift shops or visitors center unless souvenirs are a priority.

* Have a plan for how to spend the long bus drive - roughly six hours one way. The tour guide should provide some educational information about the canyon. Many tour companies show movies about the canyon on the way up and a comedy or two for entertainment on the ride back. It's a great opportunity to catch up on sleep. But if none of that is appealing, be sure to have music, games or a book at the ready.

* Temperatures the South Rim, some 7,000 square feet above sea level, are considerably cooler than in Vegas proper, as much as 15 to 20 degrees. If visiting in the fall or winter, take a jacket, scarf, hat, etc.

* That said, the sun can be overbearing. A wide-brimmed hat and suntan lotion are advisable.

* Drink tons of water. The dry heat in the desert makes it hard to detect dehydration until it's too late.

* There are some safety railings in certain spots at the canyon, but plenty of areas where nothing separates you from the walls of the canyon. Be very careful when navigating the observation points, as there are usually many tourists, in a small space, and an accidental nudge could be disastrous. Keep site of, and hold of, children at all times.

Las Vegas, Nevada:
Las Vegas, NV, USA

get directions

Grand Canyon National Park:
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

get directions

There's also the option of renting a car and driving from Vegas. Be sure to stop for gas when there's still plenty left in the tank - gas stations are few and far between.There are many overlooks accessible by car, including Desert View Drive, open to private vehicles much of the year, which runs 26 miles along the rim. Admission into the park is $25 per vehicle and is good for seven days, covering both the North and South rims. Entry for those on foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12. Children age 15 and under are admitted free.

There are a variety of lodging options at the Grand Canyon for those wishing to stay more than just a few hours, including the hotels El Tovar, Bright Angel, Phantom Ranch, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge, Maswik Lodge and Yavapai Lodge. Reservations are often necessary up to a year in advance.

There are also several campgrounds, including Mather Campground, Trailer Village and Desert View Campground. There are additional fees associated with using the campgrounds.

Mather Campground is open year-round and offers hook-ups for tents, motor homes and trailers of under 30 feet. Larger motor homes and RVs can go to Trailer Village Campground next door. Desert View Campground is open from May through the middle of October and is primarily for tents and small trailers. Reservations are accepted at Mather and Trailer Village campgrounds, but Desert View is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The view from Bright Angel Lodge.
The view from Bright Angel Lodge. | Source

President Theodore Roosevelt said of Grand Canyon, "Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see."

© 2012 Crystal Tatum


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    • CraftytotheCore profile image


      5 years ago

      Lovely photos and very useful Hub! I've never been, but I know people who have and they tell me I must go see it for myself.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks Vacation Trip!

    • Vacation Trip profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Good hub, Grand Canyon a great destination to visit. Great work.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading wrenfrost 56!

    • wrenfrost56 profile image


      5 years ago from U.K.

      I have always wanted to visit the Grand Canyon it just looks so vast and beautiful, one of natures wonders indeed. I love the pictures and it was another very interesting read from you. Thanks for sharing :)

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi AliciaC. I hope you make it- it's a great experience! You'll never forget it!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Possum lover. I was there in Sept. I'll be sure to check out your hub!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for a very useful and interesting hub, Crystal. I am determined to visit the Grand Canyon someday. I appreciate the information in this hub, because it helps to prepare me for the visit!

    • possum lover profile image

      possum lover 

      5 years ago from the backwoods just to the North of South Carolina

      It sounds like we were both at the Grand Canyon around the same time. I was there on July fourth of 2012, and I didn't realize that the $25.00 entry fee could be used on the North rim side as well. Please stop on by my hub, and check out some of my pictures of the Grand Canyon.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Wonderful! Thank you so much. I'm happy to return the kindness.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi again Crystal,

      Love the photo of the artist painting the Grand Canyon. Thought you might wish to know that I just linked this hub to my latest titled The Grand Canyon + 2 Other Spectacular National Parks in Arizona. This will be a nice addition! Might bring you more traffic. :)

    • kikalina profile image


      5 years ago from Europe

      Great info.......sharing.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks so much bdegiulio!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks so much Suzie HQ! Seeing the canyon truly is an unforgettable experience.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Crystal. One of my very first Wow moments was when I saw the Grand Canyon from the south rim for the first time. A moment I will never forget. Thank you for bringing back such great memories. Great job and great photos. Voting up, sharing, etc...

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 

      5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Crystal,

      What great memories you brought back to me here! I visited The Grand Canyon for my 40th birthday as a trip from Las Vegas. What an incredible sight, so worth seeing when in the Las Vegas area. I took a helicopter trip and a boat trip there which were something I will always treasure as I took them with my dad and brothers. Thanks for such an in depth look at where to go in the Canyon and tips to make the trip more worthwhile. VU, Useful, Interesting and Beautiful. Shared and Pinned!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I would definitely recommend a trip to the canyon if you have the time. It is well worth it! Thanks for the visit!

    • alocsin profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm sometimes in Vegas, so this would be a fun trip to take since I've never been to the Grand Canyon. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Oh my goodness, I can't imagine enough clouds to cover the canyon! I know that had to be disappointing. I do hope you get back there some day. It's well worth it - the memory of a lifetime.

    • vespawoolf profile image


      6 years ago from Peru, South America

      We went to the Grand Canyon ten years ago and there happened to be an unseasonable storm. We couldn't even see the canyon, it was so covered by clouds! My in-laws promised to take us next time we visit them, so hopefully we'll really see it this time. The Bright Angel Lodge sounds like a great choice for lodging. Thank you for sharing information on the South Rim observation points!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by, Melovy. I hope you do make it to the Grand Canyon. It is well worth the trip!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      Great photos and very useful information. We are considering a trip to the USA next year and this is one of the places are considering. It would be great to see it. I will bookmark this so I can come back to it to reread your tips if we do get to go.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for the vote and the share, jessefutch! I was showing my pictures off when I got back and someone said to me, "To think, it's just a pile of dirt!" But what an amazing and beautiful pile of dirt!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for the share Peggy! I would love to go back and stay at one of the lodges in order to get more time at the canyon. We were there midday, which is supposedly the worst time to photograph the canyon, because the colors are more muted. I hear the colors are spectacular at dawn and sunset, and I'd love to see it then! I'll have to check out your hub!

    • jessefutch profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      This is one of the true gems of our country. Thanks for the amazing imagery. Great hub. Voted and shared!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Crystal,

      I also wrote about the Grand Canyon. My friend and I stayed at one of the lodges having made reservations a long time in advance. So we saw the Grand Canyon in all kinds of lighting conditions. It is fabulous! Good information about the bus trip from Las Vegas getting there and back. Up and beautiful votes and will share.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for stopping by Mhatter99. What an adventure hiking the Grand Canyon must be!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this tour. I have hiked in and around the Grand Canyon 5 times.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I have to say, summerberrie, it can be a bit unnerving to look over the side in some spots, especially with all the tourists around, packed in like sardines. Glad your kids got to see though - I'm sure they'll never forget it!

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I'd recommend it for everyone, TToombs08. It truly is spectacular, even a spiritual experience, to behold. Thanks for the vote and the share.

    • Crystal Tatum profile imageAUTHOR

      Crystal Tatum 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I hope you make it there someday, dwachira. It's a beautiful sight!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful pictures. We took our three small boys on a road trip out west one year and stopped at the Grand Canyon. It is amazingly huge. I made my kids look from the car. Kinda scared me to let them out! Voted up!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I am going to HAVE to make a trip to the Grand Canyon some day. Voted up and shared.

    • dwachira profile image

      [ Danson Wachira ] 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I would like to visit the Canyon and view it at Bright Angel Lodge, looks awesome. Voted up and interesting.


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