Ultimate 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary: Best Viewpoints of South Rim
The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year from around the globe. With its majestic rock formations, breathtaking landscapes, and incredible hike, there is so much to see and do! This 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary will provide you with all the information about the best of the Grand Canyon in 2 days if you’re short on time.
That’s why we’ve put together a two-day itinerary that will allow you to experience the best of the Grand Canyon in 48 hours. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this itinerary will help you make the most of your time at this incredible destination including some time for breathtaking hikes.
In this Post, you can read about 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary including South Rim Travel Tips and other practical information to help you make the most of your time in Grand Canyon National Park.
So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure for 2 days in Grand Canyon!
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- 1 Some Practical Information to Plan Your 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
- 2 Why is the Grand Canyon So Famous?
- 3 Is Visiting the Grand Canyon Worth it?
- 4 Is 2 Days Enough for the Grand Canyon?
- 5 Best way to See Grand Canyon in 2 Days
- 6 North Rim Vs South Rim Which to Choose?
- 7 Best Time to Visit the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 8 Getting to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 9 Las Vegas to South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 10 Page, Arizona to South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 11 From Phoenix oR Sedona To the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 12 Public Transportation to Grand Canyon South Rim
- 13 Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
- 14 Grand Canyon Railway Tour: Must for 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
- 15 Getting Around the Gran Canyon National Park
- 15.1 Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttle
- 15.2 The Village Route- Blue Route – Operates Year- Round
- 15.3 Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route – Operates Year-round
- 15.4 Hikers’ Express Shuttle- Operates Year-round
- 15.5 The Hermit Road Route – Red Route- Operates Seasonal
- 15.6 The Tusayan Route – Purple Route – Operates Summer Only
- 16 Take Advantage of Ranger Programs
- 17 The Ultimate 2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary For South Rim
- 18 Day 1 of 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
- 19 Day 2 of 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary: The South Kaibab Trail and Desert View Road
- 20 Best Place to Stay Near the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
- 21 What to Do If have 3 Days in the Grand Canyon
- 22 What to Do If Have Only One Day at Grand Canyon
- 23 Hiking in the Grand Canyon
- 24 Extra Tips for 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
- 25 Useful Resources for Visiting the Grand Canyon
- 26 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary Conclusion
Some Practical Information to Plan Your 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
Why is the Grand Canyon So Famous?
The Grand Canyon is famous for its stunning natural beauty and geological significance. Carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, the canyon is over 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep, showcasing unique and breathtaking rock formations that are millions of years old.
The Grand Canyon has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and It is most famous for, not just its vast size, but rafting trips on the Colorado River, mule rides into the canyon, and rim-to-rim hiking, camping, and exploring this magnificent natural wonder, the Grand Canyon offers something for everyone. Its grandeur and scale make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States and the world.
Is Visiting the Grand Canyon Worth it?
Yes, the Grand Canyon is absolutely worth visiting! Its vastness and beauty are truly awe-inspiring. It is bigger than the state of Rhode Island in size, and the Park doesn’t cover the whole area of the Grand Canyon! Also, the Grand Canyon is the second Most Popular National Park in the United States, following just behind the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee for this Reason!
Is 2 Days Enough for the Grand Canyon?
Yes, it’s possible to see enough and experience some of the highlights of the Grand Canyon in just two days. It may not be enough time to appreciate everything that this vast and beautiful Grand Canyon landscape has to offer!
However, if you have limited time and can only spend two days at the Grand Canyon, it is still possible to see lots of famous views!
With two days at the Grand Canyon, you can visit the South Rim by hiking short Popular trails, taking a guided tour, watching the sunrise or sunset over the canyon, and visiting famous viewpoints overlooking the canyon. It would be very difficult to visit the North and South Rims in two days though because they are very far apart!
While you may not be able to explore every corner of the park but still you can make the most of your time by prioritizing the sights and planning activities that interest you most for an unforgettable experience.
Best way to See Grand Canyon in 2 Days
I highly recommend: One hike below the rim, Walking the Rim Trail, and driving Desert View Road at sunset. This Grand Canyon Itinerary South Rim includes all Points including hikes to make the most of your 48 hours in the Grand Canyon.
North Rim Vs South Rim Which to Choose?
There are three different and unique rims – two (the North Rim and the South Rim) that are part of Grand Canyon National Park and one (West Rim) that are not – that are available for touring, hiking, and other activities.
The West Rim is the closest rim to Las Vegas. It is located about 130 miles from the heart of Las Vegas. On average, the drive takes approximately 2.5 hrs.
The Grand Canyon National Park is so massive that if you want to drive from the North Rim to the South Rim, it is a 4.5-hour drive of 208 miles with under 20 miles apart at the widest point! You can imagine how big the Grand Canyon is!
If you are visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time, I recommend focusing on the South Rim as it offers a classic Grand Canyon experience. It offers the most amenities, including lodging, restaurants, and visitor centers.
Sure, the South Rim may be crowded as its visitor’s first choice and if you have already visited the South Rim, you can choose the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s much quieter and offers the best national park experience.
No matter which area you choose to visit, be sure to plan your itinerary in advance. Popular activities include hiking, camping, and sightseeing, so be sure to bring appropriate gear and clothing for your planned activities.
This 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary solely focuses on South Rim, but I am including all the suggestions about West Rim and North Rim too.
Best Time to Visit the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Most people visit the Grand Canyon in the summer and it’s a popular time to visit the Park but be prepared for Summer heat especially if you want to hike a lot. If you just want to drive through the Park and want to stop at viewpoints, any time is a good time to visit the Grand Canyon.
The South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and priorities. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect during each season:
Spring in South Rim Grand Canyon National Park
In Spring months from March to May, the weather is mild, with daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s Fahrenheit. The wildflowers are also in bloom, making for some beautiful scenery especially if you are hiking. However, it can be windy and some trails may be closed due to snow or ice, so check the weather before planning!
Summer in South Rim Grand Canyon National Park
The Summer months from June to August is the peak tourist season, with long days and warm temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit. The park can be crowded, and you’ll need to make reservations for lodging and activities well in advance. It can also be quite hot, with temperatures reaching into the 90s Fahrenheit making it difficult to hike below the rims. I strongly advise you to avoid the Summer season.
Also, In July and August, it’s monsoon season in Arizona, which means afternoon showers and thunderstorms basically every day.
Fall in South Rim Grand Canyon National Park
The Fall season from September to November is a great time to visit the South Rim because the crowds thin out, the weather is mild, and the colors of the foliage are stunning. Temperatures range from the mid-40s to mid-70s Fahrenheit. However, some trails may be closed due to snow or ice but still a great time to do hikes!
Winter in South Rim Grand Canyon National Park
The Winter season from December to February is the quietest time of year at the South Rim, with fewer crowds and a peaceful, snowy landscape. Temperatures range from the mid-20s to mid-40s Fahrenheit, and some facilities may be closed due to snow. However, the views are still stunning due to snow clad canyon!
Most of the trails below the rim become icy and probably it’s not the best time to visit if you want to do some amazing hikes in the Grand Canyon. The upside of the winter is that you can drive Hermit’s Rest road between November and February which usually remains closed for Private Vehicles for the rest of the year.
Overall, Spring and fall are the most pleasant times to be at the South Rim Grand Canyon National Park. The weather is milder and the crowds are smaller. However, each season offers unique experiences and beautiful views of the canyon. So, plan your trip according to what you want to experience from each season!
Getting to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon does measure in at a whopping 1,904 square of northwest Arizona and there are several ways to get there.
If you are driving, you can enter the park through one of four entrances: South Rim, North Rim, East Rim, and West Rim.
The South Rim is the most popular entrance, and it is open year-round. The North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October, and the East and West Rims are less visited and can be accessed by private vehicles or tour buses.
If you are flying from your town, Phoenix, Page, and Las Vegas are the two best entry points to the Grand Canyon South Rim. There are also several small airports near the park, including Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan but services are very limited!
From the airport, rent a car or take a shuttle to the Grand Canyon National Park.
Book your Rental Car with Discover Cars as they offer the best options!
Alternatively, you can book the Grand Canyon Tour from Tusayan which includes lunch, pick up and drop off!
Las Vegas to South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Las Vegas is the most convenient airport to fly into to get to the Grand Canyon. The South Rim is about 275 miles (440 km) from Las Vegas, and the drive takes approximately 4.5 hours and you’ll arrive through the west entrance of the Park.
If you don’t want to drive a car, there are tons of Grand Canyon tours available from Las Vegas. These tours usually include transportation by bus or van, as well as a tour guide and admission to the park.
Book your Tour here: Grand Canyon South Rim Tour with Lunch
Page, Arizona to South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
The drive from Page, Arizona to Grand Canyon Village is 2.5 hours and 135 miles (217 km) through the beautiful Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
Car rentals are more limited on Page but are still available. Also, be aware that there are limited services along the way. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, and plan your route in advance.
From Phoenix oR Sedona To the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
Phoenix to Grand Canyon National Park is approximately 230 miles and it takes around 4-5 hours to drive there by car, which is the same time as driving from Las Vegas. From Phoenix, it’s about four hours to the South Rim. It’s two hours from Sedona to the South Rim.
Whichever route you take really depends on what else you’re going to be doing on your trip!
Public Transportation to Grand Canyon South Rim
Getting to the Grand Canyon South Rim by bus is a convenient and affordable option for those who don’t have a car or prefer not to drive. You can check the below Bus Services:
- Greyhound: Greyhound offers daily bus service to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff.
- Arizona Shuttle: Arizona Shuttle offers daily shuttle service to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Flagstaff and Phoenix.
- Grand Canyon Shuttle & Charter Services: This company offers shuttle services to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Flagstaff, Williams, Sedona, and Tusayan.
- Open Road Tours: Open Road Tours offers guided day trips to the Grand Canyon South Rim from Sedona, Flagstaff, and Phoenix.
Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
A Grand Canyon helicopter tour is an exhilarating way to experience one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. During a helicopter tour, you will fly over the stunning canyon and get a bird’s-eye view of its massive cliffs and colorful rock formations.
There are a variety of Grand Canyon helicopter tours available, ranging from short 15-minute flights to longer tours that last several hours. Some popular tour options include:
- 45-minute Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon from Tusayan
- Grand Canyon Spirit Helicopter Tour from South Rim
- Grand Cayon Helicopter Tour with Hummer Ride
- Grand Canyon Signature Hummer Tour with Sunset
Grand Canyon Railway Tour: Must for 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
The Grand Canyon Railway is a historic train that offers a unique way to experience the Grand Canyon. The train departs daily from Williams, Arizona, and takes passengers on a scenic journey through the Arizona countryside, culminating in a visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Book your The Grand Canyon Railway Round Trip Experience Here!
Getting Around the Gran Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttle
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular places in the United States and draws millions of visitors each year to its breathtaking views and hiking trails. To reduce the traffic National Park utilizes Shuttle Bus Services in certain areas of the National Park.
One of the main advantages of using the Grand Canyon shuttle service is that it eliminates the need to find parking and navigate the park on your own.
With the shuttle service, you can simply hop on and off at any of the designated stops, allowing you to explore the park at your own pace. It is also a great option for those who want to avoid the hassle of driving on narrow, winding roads.
The Grand Canyon shuttle service is a free bus system inside the Park, the cost is included in your Park Entrance fee. There are five shuttle routes in the park: Village Route, Kaibab Rim Route, Hiker’s Express, Hermit Road, and Tusayan Route.
The Village Route- Blue Route – Operates Year- Round
The Service starts at 4:30 AM, and the last bus is at 9.30 PM. This loop connects the Visitor Center, Shuttle Bus Terminal with lodges, campgrounds, the Backcountry Information Center, and Market Plaza (market, outdoor ATM, and post office) and provides access to Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Market Plaza.
Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route – Operates Year-round
The Bus Service starts at 4:30 AM and the last bus is 30 minutes after sunset. This route provides access to Yaki Point, South Kaibab Trailhead, and Pipe Creek Vista.
The eastbound route begins at the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal with direct service to South Kaibab Trailhead. Then it continues to Yaki Point, and Pipe Creek Overlook, then returns to the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal.
A shuttle is needed to reach Yaki Point and South Kaibab Trailhead since the entrance road is closed to private vehicles. You may also get there by foot or bicycle.
For the Westbound route- begins at the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal, traveling to Mather Point and Yavapai Geology Museum. Then it returns to the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal.
Your second-best option to get around the Park is of course via your rental car. Although this offers a lot of freedom, the car parking lots can quickly get full.
Hikers’ Express Shuttle- Operates Year-round
It provides transportation to the South Kaibab Trailhead and the Bright Angel Trailhead. It is used to take hikers from the Bright Angel Lodge, the Backcountry Information Center, and the Visitor Center Shuttle Bus Terminal, to South Kaibab Trailhead. It leaves Bright Angel Lodge at 7 AM, 8 AM, and 9 AM.
The Hermit Road Route – Red Route- Operates Seasonal
This runs from 4:30 AM to one hour after sunset between March 1 to November 30, starting at the Hermit Road Interchange.
This shuttle travels between Grand Canyon Village and Hermits Rest on a 7-mile scenic road with outstanding views of the Grand Canyon covering multiple scenic viewpoints along Hermit Road, including Hopi Point, Pima Point, and Hermits Rest.
Hermit Road is only open to private vehicles in December, January, and February.
Note: Between March 1, and November 30, Hermit Road can only be accessed by the free Hermit Road (Red) Route shuttle bus, on foot, by bicycle, or by commercial tour.
The Tusayan Route – Purple Route – Operates Summer Only
The Tusayan Route operates during the peak summer season only. The shuttle bus service runs between the gateway community of Tusayan and the National Park making it easy for people to visit the Park from their hotels in Tusayan without using their own vehicles.
After making four stops in Tusayan, the shuttle bus heads straight to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The buses run every 20 minutes between 8 AM and 9:30 PM.
Pro Tip: During summer, lines are long at the entrance and parking is difficult to find on the South Rim. So park in the gateway community of Tusayan and ride a shuttle bus into the park. No lines and no hassles to make the most of your 2 Days in Grand Canyon South Rim!
Take Advantage of Ranger Programs
The Grand Canyon National Park offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including guided hikes, talks, and demonstrations. These programs are free and a great way to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.
Be sure to check the park’s schedule of events and sign up for programs in advance, as they can fill up quickly.
I think I have covered everything you need to know to visit the Grand Canyon. So, let’s deep dive into the detailed Grand Canyon South Rim Itinerary!
The Ultimate 2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary For South Rim
Two days at the Grand Canyon South Rim will give you enough time to explore the main viewpoints, take a hike or two below the rim and experience the park’s unique beauty. It will be a busy two days in Grand Canyon but totally worth it!
Day 1 of 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
On day one of your two days in the Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary, you’ll drive from the South Rim Visitor Center to the famous Desert View Drive along the South Rim, stopping at all the best South Rim viewpoints.
Assuming you are arriving very early on the first morning to make the most of your 2 days in the Grand Canyon!
Day One: Morning
Visit the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center
Arrive at the Grand Canyon South Rim and head to the Visitor Center to pick up a Park Map and plan your day for 2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary. I always prefer the first stop with the Visitor Center, you can get so much information about the Park including interpretive displays that provide insight into the canyon’s natural and cultural history.
The Rim Trail and Mather Point are a short walk from the Visitor Center Parking area. If you are renting bikes to get around the park or to bike the Rim Trail, you can do that here.
Also, Keep in mind You can reach early as the four parking lots at Visitor Center fill by 10:00 AM in the summer and other holiday breaks!
Facilities Available: Restaurants and Cafes, Restrooms, Parking, Ranger Programs, Water, souvenir store, hiking trail descriptions information, etc.
The South Rim Visitor Center is the main shuttle bus hub for the park, and visitors can catch a shuttle bus to other areas of the park from here, so plan your next stop for 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary from the Visitor Center!
Mather Point: Must Visit the place in your 2 days Grand Canyon Trip
Mather Point is one of the most popular and iconic viewpoints at the Grand Canyon South Rim. Located just a short walk from the main visitor center, Mather Point offers the first glimpse of a world wonder!
It’s Known for breathtaking panoramic views of the canyon especially at Sunrise when the colors of the canyon are at their most vibrant.! So, try to get here early if possible!
From the well-developed viewing platform, you can see up and down the canyon in both directions.
On a clear day, you can see 30+ miles (48 km) to the east and 60+ miles (96 km) to the west. Looking down into the canyon you can see a few small samples of the Colorado River, Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon, and numerous trails crisscrossing the landscape.
Mather Point is easily accessible via the free shuttle system that operates throughout the park.
After visiting Mather’s Point, you have two Options :
- Hike to Rim Trail (won’t be able to hike the whole thing)
- Take the shuttle to explore the canyon which is a viable option
The Rim Trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest covering a distance of approximately 13 miles (21 km). Most of the trail is paved. You’ll get to see how the Grand Canyon changes drastically as you move from east to west!
Take an orange route shuttle to reach Yaki Point. Yaki is the easternmost stop on the Kaibab Trail Route that also serves Pipe Creek Vista and the Canyon View Information Plaza at Mather Point.
Yaki Point is the ideal overlook to enjoy a sunrise or sunset over the Canyon featuring wide panoramic westward views that encompasses the end of Bright Angel Trail and close views that begin South Kaibab Trail.
It is an easy walk west of Mather Point, located between Grand Canyon Village and the Bright Angel Trailhead. It offers stunning views of the Grand Canyon, including the Colorado River, and the surrounding landscape.
It is considered one of the best viewpoints to watch the sunset and sunrise, perhaps the best panorama of the three points on this part of the south rim. It is the closest to the Colorado River, allowing for unobstructed views up and down the gorge.
A short paved trail leads from the Yavapai Point parking area to the viewpoint, and it is wheelchair accessible. You can also hike the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail from Yavapai Point.
You can also visit the Yavapai Geology Museum located at Yavapai Point to learn about the geological history of the Grand Canyon. It features interactive exhibits, a relief map of the Grand Canyon, and a video presentation about the canyon’s history.
By noon, have lunch at any of the restaurants in the Grand Canyon Village at Bright Angel Lodge or El Tovar Hotel.
Pro Tip: The lines will be long and food may be ridiculously overpriced. But stay inside the Park only as it’s not worthwhile to go outside for food as it may take a long time to come back.
Day One: Afternoon
Get ready to explore the Hermit Road, which is a highlight of day 1 of your Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary.
Use the Shuttle to Explore Hermits Rest Road
The best time to visit Hermits Rest is late afternoon to sunset. So, spend your time by walking a portion of the Rim Trail which parallels the Hermit Road and provides stunning views of the canyon, or take shuttles.
If you decide to take a shuttle along Hermit Road(red route), you can hop on from Village Route Transfer Shuttle Stop. This is a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon if you hiked the Rim trail!
You can stop at every Point along the 7-mile road which ends at Hermit’s Rest! Just get out, check the viewpoints, and click photographs! The shuttles run frequently and you will get enough time to explore, click pictures and catch the next shuttle!
A few of my favorite Stops on Hermit Road are:
- Hopi Point: Considered one of the best places to watch the sunset, Hopi Point provides sweeping views of the western part of the canyon and is considered the best scenic view of the Grand Canyon!
- Mohave Point: This lookout offers panoramic views of the Grand Canyon, including the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch.
- Pima Point: From this lookout, you can see the Colorado River as it makes a sharp turn to the east.
- Hermit’s Rest: This historic building was designed by Mary Colter and is now a popular spot for souvenirs and snacks. There are also a few hiking trails that start from this point.
Facilities at Hermits Rest: Restrooms, Water, Gift shop, picnic area, and food
Day One: Evening
End your day by watching Sunset over the Canyon
Once you reach Hermits Rest, grab the shuttle back to Hopi Point, which is considered the best sunset location as you can see out to the setting sun to the west which illuminates the canyon with bright colors. It’s surreal to watch the setting sun over the canyon!
After hopping from one viewpoint to another, grab a sumptuous dinner at the elegant El Tovar Hotel which has the finest dining restaurant in the whole of the Grand Canyon and serves the best food. Alternatively, you can grab dinner in the nearby town of Tusayan.
If you still have energy left with you, attend a ranger-led program or stargaze at one of the park’s designated stargazing areas.
Take a good sleep as your 2nd day during 2 Day Grand Canyon itinerary is going to be a lot more demanding!
Day 2 of 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary: The South Kaibab Trail and Desert View Road
Day two is going to be more about hiking than checking out all of the viewpoints!
On your second day in the Grand Canyon South Rim, hike the South Kaibab Trail before driving Desert View Road, the most scenic drive in the Grand Canyon National Park, and end your day by watching the sunset over Desert View Drive!
Day Two: Morning
Sunrise at Mather Point
Get started on day 2 of the 2-day Grand Canyon Itinerary by enjoying the sunrise at Mather Point or Yaki Point before hiking the South Kaibab Trail. Watching at least one sunrise over the Grand Canyon is a must in your 2 day Grand Canyon Itinerary!
Whichever location you prefer to go, it will probably depend on how much hiking you want to do on the South Kaibab Trail.
You can take the Orange Shuttle between all three of these points, but Yaki Point is closer to the trailhead.
Hike the South Kaibab Trail
If you want to make your trip memorable, do at least one hike to get below the canyon! If you don’t know, only a few people attempt the hikes and you should not be the one to miss out on it.
So, get prepared and take enough water, snacks and start early to avoid the heat. Also, it may take twice the time to hike out of the canyon than you take to hike inside it.
The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is to get below the rim and the South Kaibab Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the Canyon looking to the best views it offers in the South Rim!
This 7.1-mile trail begins at the South Rim near Yaki Point and descends to the Colorado River. To get to the trailhead, take the shuttle from the Visitor Center out to the South Kaibab Trailhead or if you are at Yaki Point for sunrise, walk to the trailhead which may add an additional one mile to your trip!
The trail is steep and rugged, with an elevation change of 4,820 feet from the rim to the river. You can go as far as you feel comfortable, but don’t forget the hike back out will all be uphill and much more difficult! Keep that in mind when deciding how far to hike below the rim.
The South Kaibab Trail hike is customizable as per your interest with notable turnaround points like 0.9 miles to Ooh Aah Point, 1.5 miles in Cedar Ridge, 3 miles in Skeleton Point, and 4.5 miles in the Tipoff. Remember, almost all elevation gain is on the hike out of the canyon.
Note: Please Keep in mind those distances are one-way, so you’ll need to double them to get roundtrip distances. Additionally, the steepness of the trail is very misleading on the way down. So, plan on taking twice as long to hike up as it took to hike down!!
It is not recommended by National Park Service to hike past Skeleton Point to the river as a day hike, especially in summer.
Ooh Aah Point and Cedar Ridge are better day hike options.
Ooh Aah Point: This lookout provides a stunning view of the canyon and is located only 0.9 miles down the trail, so if you just want to do a short hike, this is the best turnaround point on South Kaibab Trail.
Cedar Ridge is a popular turnaround point for day hikers, located 1.5 miles down the trail. It offers panoramic views of the canyon and is a great place to take a break or enjoy a picnic lunch.
Skeleton Point is located 3 miles down the trail and offers an incredible view of the Colorado River, and gets views both east and west into the canon. Also, it’s a popular destination for overnight hikers.
The Trail can have very little shade and there is NO water along the trail. If you are planning to do it in summer, start your hike as early as possible! I recommend starting it early morning to beat the harsh sun because heat is no joke when you are hiking up from the Rim! Also, remember to eat well while hiking, as you are going to use a lot of energy hiking the canyon.
There will be mules on this trail and they should be given the right of way if you encounter them along your hike. It is not recommended at all by NPS to hike to the river and back out in one day.
Overall, the South Kaibab Trail is a challenging but rewarding experience for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon National Park.
What to Bring: Snacks, sunscreen, lots of water
After finishing your trail, head to Yavapai Tavern in the Park to get good lunch. You may find long waiting during the peak summer season, but the food is good and worth the wait!
Day Two: Afternoon
Drive to Desert View Drive Road
After Lunch, head out to Desert View Drive Road, which is the best scenic drive in the park that’s open to private vehicles year-round.
It stretches for 25 miles from the Grand Canyon Village to the Desert View Watchtower, which is located at the eastern end of the drive. I was stunned by the changes in the canyon along the beautiful drive!
Along the drive, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the canyon at many scenic viewpoints and I recommend stopping by all the View Points starting from Pipe Creek Vista to the desert view in the end!
I particularly loved Grandview Point(a great spot for watching the sunrise or sunset), Moran Point(most panoramic views of the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon), Lipan Point(can see the Colorado River and several prominent rock formations gives an expansive view of the Grand Canyon ), Navajo Point(highest viewpoint on the south rim at nearly 7,500 feet) Desert View Point and Desert View Watchtower.
Desert View offers one of the best views on the South Rim and is a little different than on the West side.
Desert View Watchtower
You may not be able to go to the top of the Desert View Watchtower, but the views behind it at the Desert View Point are still breathtaking. It was designed by Mary Colter and built-in 1932 as a replica of ancient Puebloan watchtowers that were used for defensive purposes.
Inside, the tower it features murals and other artwork by Hopi artists, as well as a small museum that showcases Native American artifacts and history. On the ground level, you can explore the kiva room that is used for cultural demonstrations and performances by Native American artists.
At Desert View Watch Tower, you’ll find the most services on the east side of the park, outside of the main visitor center and Grand Canyon Village.
Facilities: Food, camping, picnic area, gift shop, water, small Deli, and Gas Station
Pro Tip: Desert View Drive is on the East Side of the Park. If you are arriving from the Page, you’ll enter from this entrance. So, I recommend completing this drive on day 1 of your 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary, completing the Desert View drive in reverse in the morning, then heading to Hermits Rest route for your first day! There are no shuttles that reach this part of the park.
Day Two: Evening
Have dinner at one of the park’s restaurants or grab a bite to eat in the nearby town of Tusayan or at your hotel and call it for a day!
Best Place to Stay Near the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, you have many options for accommodation including camping, staying at a hotel or lodge inside the park, and staying at a hotel outside the park.
I am mentioning all the places to stay looking at the Grand Canyon South Rim. While the options in the Grand Canyon Park inside are great to spend a night but outside the Park like Tusayan and Grand Canyon Junction are best for budget travelers.
Hotels at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
There are quite a few Lodges at the South Rim inside of the park. These are more expensive than outside of the park and most of them are a bit outdated with little phone reception and little to no Wi-Fi.
But if you want to stay in the Park to make the most of your 2 Days in the Grand Canyon, it’s worth spending the money! As it’s a traveler’s first choice, you’ll need to book it in advance like a year in advance!
The Hotel options on the South Rim are:
El Tovar: The lodge looks like a Swiss chalet and the rooms are nice. The place is a very pretty location.
Yavapai Lodge: This Place is within a 15-minute walk of Mather Point and the Visitor Center and is inside the Grand Canyon Village plaza.
Bright Angel Lodge: It’s right at the trailhead for the Bright Angel Trail, and you catch the shuttle out to Hermit Road a few hundred steps away!
Thunderbird Lodge: It’s right on the rim, next to El Tovar. Some rooms even have a canyon view!
Maswik Lodge: It’s one of the most affordable places to stay inside the park. It’s near Bright Angel Trailhead and the entrance to Hermit Road.
The Bright Angel Lodge is the best for a more budget-friendly option and the Thunderbird Lodge is a good mid-range choice and El Tovar is best for luxury!
Hotels Nearby the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
If you’re looking for better options with value, stay outside the South Entrance.
The best options here are Tusayan, which is basically at the South Entrance, and Grand Canyon Junction, which is 15 minutes south, but has more options. If you want to stay in a hotel, stay in Tusayan. If you want to stay in a vacation rental, stay in Grand Canyon Junction.
Both of them are within a half hour of the rim and offer a better value than the hotels inside the park.
Staying in Tusayan
Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn: This hotel is a 10 minutes drive from the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park and the best mid-range choice.
The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon: This is the best hotel with a restaurant and Pool, located 18 miles from the desert view drive. The rooms are comfortable and clean.
The Holiday Inn Express: This is a clean and comfortable place to stay. It has comfortable beds and offers free breakfast in the morning.
Staying in Grand Canyon Junction
You could also stay in Grand Canyon Junction and this area is also referred to as “Valle”. If you want to stay in a vacation rental, Grand Canyon Junction is your best bet.
Wander Camp Grand Canyon is the perfect luxury tent for couples for a romantic stay and This Ranch House is perfect for families. You can look for more Vacation Rental options on VRBO.
Williams is the best place to stay if you are really on a budget. It is also the best place to stay if you plan on riding the Grand Canyon Railway. The Lodge on Route 66 and La Quinta by Wyndham Grand Canyon are wonderful mid-range choices also right in town.
Camping at Grand Canyon South Rim
There are three campgrounds in the Grand Canyon at the South Rim.
- Mather Campground: It is the largest campground with 327 sites. Each includes a campfire ring/cooking grate, picnic table, parking space, three tents, and two vehicles. There are flush toilets and drinking water throughout the campground. No hookups are available, however, there is a free dump station.
- Trailer Village RV Park: It is the only RV park with full hookups with 123 sites. It is open year-round and has potable water, flush toilets, hot showers, ice, laundry, and a camp store. Trailer Village is located near the Yavapai Lodge.
- Desert View Campground: It is located at the east entrance of the park and offers a peaceful setting with 49 campsites. The reservations can be made up to six months in advance. This campground has a camp store, firewood, ice, potable water, and flush toilets when it is open. There are no showers here. It is only open from April 15 to October 16.
What to Do If have 3 Days in the Grand Canyon
If you have one more day in the Grand Canyon, I suggest following the above 2-day Grand Canyon Itinerary, and on the third day you can opt for more hikes down below the canyon rim.
I have mentioned two hikes that are hard as both gain elevation on the way back to the rim. But you can always opt for part of the rim trail!
Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point
Bright Angel Trail is regarded as one of the best hiking trails in the Grand Canyon South Rim. It’s down to 3 mile RT Resthouse, Indian Gardens campground (9 miles RT), Plateau Point(12.2 Miles RT), and the last Phantom Ranch(20.6 miles RT).
Though you can hike the entire Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch in one day, it is only advised for very strong hikers and the scenery also does not change much till you get to Plateau Point. Again, reaching Plateau Point is long for a day hike!
Shoshone Point Trail- Best Hike for Families (2.1 Miles RT)
The Shoshone Point is accessed by 2 Mile (3.2 Km) roundtrip hike on a dirt road through a ponderosa forest leading to the canyon rim. Less than 10 minutes southeast of the Grand Canyon Village visitors’ center, this flat, dirt path hike finishes at a secreted rock formation. With deep red canyons as a backdrop, the narrow, it’s perfect for the calm trail with families leaving behind the crowded viewpoints.
There is a covered pavilion with tables, outdoor grills, restrooms, and trash cans approximately a mile into the hike!
What to Do If Have Only One Day at Grand Canyon
If you only have one day in the Grand Canyon, I am recommending the best hiking and viewpoints from the above Grand Canyon Itinerary.
Start your day at Mather Point for sunrise and then take a shuttle to the visitor center to South Kaibab Trailhead. Do the hike from there down to Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge which will take most of your time in the morning.
Then take a shuttle to Yaki Point and hop back on the shuttle to the Visitor Center.
Then have lunch and head out to Hermit Road via Park Shuttle. Stop at all the viewpoints along the way as mentioned in this post which may take 2-3 hours.
In the late afternoon, drive through Desert View Drive, and stay at Desert View for sunset before heading back to your hotel.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon
There are three hikes that are super popular in the Grand Canyon: The Rim Trail, the South Kaibab Trail, and the Bright Angel Trail.
There are also other great hikes in the Grand Canyon that are less trafficked – like the Grandview Trail and Hermit’s Trail but it’s not that popular for day hikes. The above three trails are highly customizable based on your hiking experience and fitness level.
Extra Tips for 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary
The Grand Canyon visit can be an overwhelming park as it’s so large with so many trails to follow, many viewpoints and there are three areas to choose from when visiting.
But read my top Grand Canyon Travel Tips which will help you to make the most of your time memorable during 2 days in Grand Canyon National Park.
- Decide where to spend your night and make a reservation beforehand. The peak summer season can hamper your plans if you don’t book accommodation in advance!
- Start your day early before 8 AM because Grand Canyon receives a lot of visitors! This way, you can beat the crowd and mid-day heat during the hikes.
- Research about the shuttles as mentioned in the article, especially for Hermits Road ahead of time. It will help you to plan your Grand Canyon 2-day itinerary that much better!
- Hikers should prepare for high heat and rapid changes in elevation. Beware of Heat Stroke during summer which is the peak season to visit Grand Canyon.
- If you are hiking or doing short walks, stay hydrated with water, sports drinks, or something with a lot of electrolytes during peak heat. Carry enough snacks or food for the trail from outside the park.
- Dress appropriately when planning your Grand Canyon trip. If you are visiting in the winter, carry enough warm clothes. If you are visiting during the summer season, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, moisture-absorbent clothing.
- Golden hour at Grand Canyon is magical. So, I recommend watching at least one sunrise or one sunset during your 2 days in the Grand Canyon South Rim itinerary.
- Always check out Road closures or temporary modifications in the route when you are planning your best 48 hours in the grand canyon.
Useful Resources for Visiting the Grand Canyon
When planning your 2 Days Grand Canyon itinerary, have a look at a few useful resources and my favorite tools to make your trip convenient. Here are my top picks:
- Skyscanner and Wayaway: The perfect site to help you book convenient and affordable flights from anywhere in the world.
- Booking.com: You will find all sorts of accommodation options on Bookings.com and it’s the right place to book your stay.
- Get Your Guide: If you want to opt for Guided Tours and don’t want to take the pain of the planning, Get Your Guide is your best friend! It has many excellent Tour Options and I personally use it during my travels.
- Viator: You will get the best-priced tour experiences and so many options to choose from at your fingertips with Viator.
2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary Conclusion
Hope, I have convinced you and now you are ready to embark on the trip with this amazing 2 day Grand Canyon itinerary! The National Park offers everything from amazing viewpoints, hikes, amazing history, and lots of things to do as a first-time visitor. Hope you enjoy this natural world wonder as much as I did!
If you have any queries let me know in the comments! Make sure to Pin this 2-Day Grand Canyon Itinerary to read it later for your American Southwest trip.