Prepare for Grand Canyon National Park
If you’ve never been to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon this beginner post is for you. We are going to tell you where you can see Grand Views, wildlife, the best beginner hiking and biking, insights on Trailer Village, and more. Let’s get Started.
Read until the end to see where you can watch the largest bird in North America and learn the one hidden spot for them that almost no one sees.
South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point is probably the easiest way to get down into the canyon and find spectacular views. The trail to Ooh Aah Point is a little shorter with less elevation than Bright Angel Trail which we will get into later. South Kaibab Trail was designed by National Park Engineers to provide a hiking experience that was less difficult and safer than Bright Angel Trail which was built over time by Havasupai and Miners and others. On South Kaibab, it takes just 6.5 miles to reach the canyon bottom and achieve an almost 1 mile elevation change. South Kaibab trail to Ooh Aah point is a great beginner hike, on the East side of the South Rim, at 1.8 miles and only 790 feet of elevation change. Plan on a two hour hike to one of the best panoramic views in the park. Here is a post we did specific to hiking the South Kaibab Trail. South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point Planning Guide and Unforgettable Canyon Views (campbrood.com)
Now for a little history of the Grand Canyon and up next we’ll discuss one of the most popular trails in the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon has rock over 2 billion years old at the canyon bottom and the canyon itself has only eroded for the last 5-6 million years with the Colorado river helping every day. The Grand Canyon was inhabited by the Havasupai for the year-round fresh water in the canyon and fertile land, in what is now known as Indian Garden. Entrepreneurs settled the area for mining endeavors and tourism in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Due to concerns with the history and grandeur of the area, Theodore Roosevelt protected the Canyon by declaring it a National Monument in 1908. Woodrow Wilson went further and designated the Canyon, equal to the size of Delaware, a National Park in 1919.
Now for the Canyon trail that has been used for centuries and coming up later some of the best casual biking in the United States.
Bright Angel to the 1.5 mile rest house provides a completely different view of the Grand Canyon. Here hikers can see grand views of the canyon including Plateau Point. If you only go to the 1.5 mile rest house you will not see the Colorado River. But you will get to enjoy the two tunnels. A keen eye will discover petroglyphs and you might get lucky and see a mule train, Big Horn Sheep, or other Wildlife. This trail isn’t for the weak and fortunately you can turn around anytime. The trail has been improved over the years however, this trail was built for the miners and is not engineered like South Kaibab. The grade is steeper than South Kaibab Trail and was in full sun for us making it hotter and more difficult on the way out. Most people will turn around at the rest house. Plan on 3 hours to hike to the resthouse and back and for every minute hiking down plan on 2 minutes to hike back out. Here is our post with more details on Bright Angel Trail: Prepare for Bright Angel Trail (campbrood.com)
Biking is the best way to see grand views that most people won’t see during their stay. It is also one of the best ways to escape the popular Grand Canyon Village and Visitor’s center. We biked from the Visitor’s Center to Yaki Point to the East and from Bright Angel Trail to Hermit’s Rest to the West. In Total the bike rides offer over 12 viewpoints visited by the shuttles and probably twice as many viewpoints only accessible to hikers or bikers. We also saw California Condor (the largest North American Bird) on a dead tree while biking the Greenway close to Hermit’s rest. This part of the bike trail includes great forest and is the original Hermit Road first built in 1912. Once used for cars it is now reserved for bikers and hikers. Most of these viewpoints are restricted to shuttles, bikers, and hikers during the busy season. Here are two posts describing more of the bike rides we took along the South Rim
Prepare for Biking the Grand Canyon from the Village to Hermit's Rest (campbrood.com)
Prepare for Biking the Grand Canyon from the Visitor's Center to Yaki Point (campbrood.com)
Coming up at the end of the post is an even easier place to see the Condors fly overhead.
Trailer Village was our homebase at the Grand Canyon. If this doesn’t interest you skip to the next paragraph to learn about the South Rim Trail. Trailer Village is the only campground with full hookups in Grand Canyon National Park. There is a newer section and older section that we detailed in our campground review. Trailer Village-Campground Review (campbrood.com). There are subtle differences that may be important to you. We appreciated being able to prepare food in our RV instead of waiting in line at restaurants in the park. The bike trails hookup to Trailer Village and Mather Campground making it easy to bike the rim from your campsite and dogs find the campground inviting and full of places to explore during walks. Additionally, the elk visited daily so be mindful of your surroundings as you never know what you will discover.
The South Rim Trail at Grand Canyon National Park connects the area from Hermits Rest to South Kaibab Trailhead and everything in between. This asphalt paved trail is great for grabbing a coffee and watching the canyon as the sun comes up. Dogs are welcome with a six-foot leash on the South Rim Trail, too. We noticed in the Village and by the Visitor’s Center it can get crowded. The more you walk towards Hermits Rest or Yaki Point the less busy it becomes. We found California Condor soaring over the trees at the Visitors Center Mostly.
Below are some great items to take on your hikes and bike riding. Through Amazon affiliate we will earn a small commission if you purchase. Thank you for supporting our channel.
Here is a link to the National Park Service maps page: Maps - Grand Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)