Rim Trail is an easy-going hike following the South Kaibab trailhead west toward Hermit’s Rest. The trail offers unrestricted views of the inner canyon along a fairly unchallenging pathway. The trail also serves as an introduction to the Grand Canyon’s scenery, offering a sneak peak into it’s all-encompassing beauty.
Everything about this trail is easy-breezy. Paved for most of the way with little to no elevation change, and a trailhead accessible by shuttle bus are just the beginning. While the entire length of the trail is what seems to be a daunting 24 mile (39 km) round-trip, shuttle stops along various points allow you to hike as much or as little as you want.
Located in the hub of Grand Canyon activity and aptly named, the Rim Trail contains the most “must-see” of the Grand Canyon’s famous outlooks. Hike the entire length for an incredible Grand Canyon overview, or simply skip stops to your favorite spots.
Pipe Creek Vista
This viewpoint overlooks its namesake, Pipe Creek. It’s the main canyon between Kaibab and Bright Angel Trail.
This viewpoint is the closest one from the park entrance, and as such, many visitors’ first Grand Canyon view, period. Located on the south side of the Colorado River, the lookout from this point is astonishingly beautiful. From here, you can gaze into Pipe Creek, glimpse a stretch of Bright Angel Trail and Garden Creek, and the unmissable O’Neill butte.
There are many reasons to be excited about Yavapai Point. The genius structure of the Yavapai Geology Museum and Observation Station allow visitors to view the Grand Canyon in a spectacular way. The museum offers exhibits displaying the canyon floor and Colorado River, and the glass observation area allows visitors to peer straight into the canyon’s depth, thousands of feet below.
Accessible only by foot, Grandeur Point is one of those spots along the Rim Trail you’ll have to skip a shuttle ride for- but it’s absolutely worth it. The outlook boasts one of the best views of the inner canyon- especially from this side of the park. Also visible from this location are some switchbacks along the Bright Angel Trail.
Verkamp’s Visitor Center
If you’re quite impulsive, this may well be the spot to descend below the rim as the Bright Angel trail commences its descent toward the Colorado River. If not, there is still plenty of entertainment. Verkamp’s Visitor Center offers a slew of shops and restaurants, a photograph studio, and as the name implies, valuable information for Grand Canyon visitors.
This viewpoint overlooks Bright Angel Trail and Plateau Point as well as the San Francisco Peaks, the Red Butte, and Bill Williams Mountain. If you follow the length of the Bright Angel Trail, you’ll be able to glimpse the Colorado River.
A less-crowded option for a view of the the sunrise, Maricopa Point offers a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon, encompassing over 180 degrees of rocky beauty. Parts of Bright Angel Trail, as well as Tonto Trail are visible from this point, as well as Horn Creek, Dana Butte, and the Battleship formation.
Half a mile (.8 km) west from Maricopa Point is the narrow spur that makes up Powell Point. Named in honor of John W. Powell’s explorations of the Colorado River, this point offers a clearer view of the western canyon.
Revealing a more expansive view of the western canyon, Hopi Point overlooks the Great Scenic Divide, revealing an isolated view of Dana Butte. For those hiking the Rim Trail or toward Hermit’s Stop, Hopi Point offers the first view of the Colorado River.
Demonstrating a more expansive view of the Colorado River glimpsed at Hopi Point, Mohave Point reveals a majestic view of the cliffs surrounding The Abyss. Sunset seekers will find that Mohave Point has several outlook spots, and far less crowding than other popular points.
Monument Creek Vista
One of the last great outlooks along Rim Trail and the trailhead to Greenway Trail, Monument Creek Vista stands on the back of the drainage channel cut out by the force and persistence of Monument Creek.
Offering up an almost-touchable view of the river. From this point, the Colorado River is located less than two horizontal miles (3 km) in the distance. This outlook also allows a clear view into Granite Rapids, glimpses of Boucher Rapids, and a gorgeous angle of the western side of the canyon.
Rim Trail concludes with the rustic outlook that is Hermits Rest. Here, you can find a small snack stand and souvenir shop. Hermits Rest was made to be deliberately ramshackle. Everything from the crumbly assembly of the entrance archway to the soot along the walls is a purposeful design technique by Mary Jane Colter.