One of the top places to visit when you are visiting the USA is the Grand Canyon. It was always one of my dreams to visit this natural wonder and see how grand it is with my own eyes. Even though I moved to the USA in 2017, it took me until October 2020 to finally visit the Grand Canyon. We had two days at the Grand Canyon and did a couple of hikes during that time. In this blogpost I am focusing on the Best Grand Canyon Day Hikes. For more information please check the official Grand Canyon Park website.
When is a good time to visit Grand Canyon?
The best time to visit the Grand Canyon is from March to May or September to November. One of the main reasons is the weather. During that time, the daytime temperatures are fairly low, and the park is less crowded. If you decide to visit Grand Canyon during summer, prepare yourself for huge crowds and limited hotel availability.
Temperatures during spring (March to May) range from 50-60° on the South Rim and between the mid 70s and high 80s on the West Rim. It usually less rain than in the fall and you can see some wildflowers on both the North and South Rim. The downside of visiting off-peak season that it gets very cold at night, with lows ranging from the mid 20s-low 30s. The weather can be tricky as well, because it is somewhat unpredictable, with late-season snow and rain storms.
During fall temperatures are way cooler than in summer, with average daytime temperatures from 50s° to 60s°. Like the springtime, it can get very cool overnight though, so you definitely need a sweater for morning and evening hikes. In addition to that, you also will experience fewer crowds and you will have the beauty of the autumn colors. But as in spring, the weather might be unpredictable.
Which Rim should I visit?
The Canyon is huge – 277 miles long and 18 miles wide which is why you need to make sure what places you can visit at the Canyon. You can visit the following parts of the Grand Canyon: North Rim, South Rim, Grand Canyon East, and Grand Canyon West. Due to Covid, we were only able to see the South Rim that is also one of the most popular parts of the Grand Canyon. With it wide and panoramic views the South Rim is probably the image that people have in mind when thinking of the Grand Canyon.
How many days should I spend at Grand Canyon?
It really depends on what you want to do at the Grand Canyon. You can technically see the Grand Canyon in 1 day but can also spend 2 weeks there or even longer. It all depends on what you are interested in.
- Do you want to hike? And if so, how many hikes do you want to do, and how long and difficult do you want them to be? Are you happy to walk along the Rim Trail, or do you want to trek into the Grand Canyon?
- Do you want to camp or stay overnight, or would you prefer a day trip?
- Would you like to do an airplane or helicopter flight?
- Do you want to see the Skywalk?
These questions are all crucial to making the right decision on how much time you actually need at the Grand Canyon. Our time frame was limited and we only had two days at the Grand Canyon. We both love hiking and it was important to us to see as much as possible and experience as much as possible during these 2 days. This is why we picked 2 longer hikes where we were able to trek into the Grand Canyon. We also picked 2 places to watch the sunset and loved it so much.
If you want to see a couple of view points and just snap a couple of photos, one day will be enough for you. Many great view points have parking accessible right next to the view point and even walking along the rim offers many great photo opportunities.
But if you are interested in doing a couple of hikes and hiking into the canyon, you will need at least 2 days at the Canyon. Next time we visit, we want camp in the canyon and are planning on staying for 4-5 days.
Hiking tips for Best Grand Canyon Day Hikes
If you intend to hike down the Canyon you need to make sure to bring sun block, a hat, lots of water and some snacks. Hiking down is fairly easy but hiking back up can be tricky, especially since the temperatures are increasing the further you are in the Canyon. That is why it is recommended to hike early in the morning or in the afternoon and to avoid lunch time from 11am – 3 pm. There is not much shade in the Grand Canyon which is why sun protection and a hat is very advisable. We could not avoid hiking during lunch time and it was so hot on the way back up. But with lots of water and some breaks it is doable and so worth it!
Best Grand Canyon Day Hikes
South Rim Trail
The Rim trail is the flattest area and offers easy walking and fantastic views over the Grand Canyon. You can just walk along the rim and enjoy several easy trails. Here are a few:
- Hermits Rest
- Hopi Point
- El Tovar Hotel
- Yavapai Geology Museum
- Mather Point
- South Kaibab Trailhead
These are all trails along the South Rim and are fairly easy. We just loved walking along the Rim and took so many photos. There are shuttle stops at various points along the route. So this means that you can hike between viewpoints and simply catch the shuttle at any of the stops you wish. The most popular sections of the Rim trail are between Mather Point and Yavapai Geology Museum, and along Hermit Road.
Bright Angel Hike
The Bright Angel Trail offers many good destinations and you can start the trail from the Village area. The trailhead is located next to Kolb Studio and starts out relatively easy. We did the hike in the afternoon and hiked until the 3-mile rest house, so a total of 6 miles. The hike was relatively easy and a good way to get a feeling for hikes at the Grand Canyon. The views were incredible. Even though I really like the views around the rim walk, nothing beats walking in the canyon.
Kaibab Trail (to Skeleton Point)
The South Kaibab Trail begins south of Yaki Point on Yaki Point Road. You can only access the trailhead with a shuttle bus. We did a 12-mile day hike and it was very tough but you can also do an overnight hike. You need to make sure to book the campsite in advance though. I highly recommend the day hike if you love hiking but this hike is definitely a more advanced one that offers amazing views but is a very steep trail with no water fill-up stations and almost no shade opportunities.
Grandview Trail (to Coconino Saddle)
We thought the Grandview Trail would be easy but it was so steep and we only managed to hike until Coconino Saddle, which is 2 miles (round trip) and it still took us like 2 h. Due to time limitations and because we also wanted to catch the sunset in time at Yuvapai, we could not hike further down into the canyon. The trail conditions are tougher than the Bright Angel and South Kaibab trails and the drop-offs are crazy steep – there are several unmaintained steep trail sections. My fear of heights made this hike a bit tougher for me. This trail is for experienced desert hikers.
Sunset at Yuvapai
Yuvapai view point is a great spot to watch the sunset. There are several areas where you can find good photo opportunities. Just be careful with climbing on the rocks, they are all not fenced and very steep. This spot was a bit more crowded than Lipan Point but still beautiful.
Sunset Lipan Point
One of the best sunsets I have ever seen was at the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point. You can drive directly to the viewpoint, park there and then look for a place to sit and watch the epic sunset. Honestly, I loved every sunrise and sunset at the Grand Canyon but the one at Lipan Point was simply magical. I also felt like it was less crowded which made the moment more intimate.
Places to see sunrise and sunset
The best places to see the sunrise are:
The best places to see the sunset are:
Grand Canyon Village
Hapi Point (Red Shuttle Bus)
Packing List for Grand Canyon Day Hikes
- Lots of water
- Snack like granola bars
- Comfortable backpack
- Hiking shoes