Grand Canyon National Park tops our list for the number of times we’ve visited a park. At last count, between the North Rim, South Rim, and Toroweap Area, we’ve visited a total of 10 times – more than any other park in the US (other than local parks). And are we tired of it? Gracious no! There’s something alluring about the Grand Canyon that keeps bringing us back, year after year, hike after hike, and view after view. I even have a few more new hikes up my sleeve, waiting for the next time we can visit…
Why don’t I include the North Rim? Well, first of all, I haven’t visited the North Rim in over 10 years – the last time was to hike the Lava Falls Trail at Toroweap (an awesome experience!) – but the other reason is that I find the views better from the South Rim.
So enjoy my favorites…and hopefully these will inspire you to make memories at the Grand Canyon, too!
The 6 Best Day Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
- Shoshone Point. Relatively unknown except to event planners, Shoshone Point is actually the one of the few places in a national park where you can get married in front of an outstanding view, then enjoy a reception right on site! However, when the facilities aren’t officially in use, the area is open to the public to walk a mile down a dusty dirt road to a unique view of the canyon far below. 2 miles RT.
- Horseshoe Mesa Trail. This isn’t an official trail; it’s more like a shortcut for those wishing to hike the Tonto Trail around only half of Horseshoe Mesa. However, the scenery is stunning, especially from the western arm at the end of the plateau, so who cares if the trail is a bit vague or eroded in places? 10 miles RT (access is via the Grandview Trail, then across Horseshoe Mesa)
- Plateau Point. Speaking of plateau views from halfway down the canyon, the famed Bright Angel Trail also offers a similar (if quite different) offering beyond Indian Gardens. This trail is far more widely used, but its views are also (in my opinion) a bit more awe-inspiring and better of the Colorado River. 12.6 miles RT via the Bright Angel Trail.
- Tonto Trail between the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails. Towering cliffs, sheltered side-canyons, stomach-flipping drop-offs, and omnipresent Grand Canyon scenery. That’s the Tonto Trail in a nutshell, and it’s no wonder backpackers take days – or even weeks – to hike part or all of its length as the trail wanders along the rim of the inner canyon. One of my favorite sections that can be done as a dayhike is between the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails. 13.1 miles RT.
- The Rim Trail. Looking for something a little easier on the knees? The Rim Trail offers canyon views along most of its 13 mile length, most of which is paved. However, if you get tired, it’s a simple matter to hop on one of the park’s free shuttle buses to be whisked away to the next official viewpoint along the trail. My favorite part of the trail? Between Powell Point and Hopi Point along the Hermit’s Rest Road. Up to 26 miles RT; pick and choose at you like!
- South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. If you can only do one hike into the Grand Canyon, this is the one. Spectacular views from the first continue to abound and improve for the 1.5 miles down to Skeleton Point, a popular destination for dayhikers. Here are views of the canyon’s many temples, as well as the rest of the canyon. Wow! And if you’re really feeling adventurous, continue down the infamous “Great Whites” (steep switchbacks) another 3 miles to the “Tip Off Point” at the edge of the inner canyon. 3 miles RT.
What is your favorite trail at the Grand Canyon?
Always remember to bring lots of food and water, sunscreen, and a map and know self-rescue skills when you go out on the trail!