One of the most popular tourist sites in the United States, the Grand Canyon is visited annually by millions of visitors, with many choosing to drive to the Grand Canyon National Park. Once they reach their destination, they typically park their cars and hike through the canyon to see the fascinating geological formations.
Read on to find out how you can tour the Grand Canyon by car, the scenic points accessible by car, and routes that you can take to explore the park. Of course, it’s also important to remember that while you can tour the Grand Canyon on your own, it may be better to book a professional for the best Grand Canyon half-day tour.
Situated at almost 8,000 feet of elevation, the South Rim is the most famous rim at the Grand Canyon National Park. This rim is great for hiking, wildlife viewing, and getting sweeping views of the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon Village is a census-designated area at the South Rim of the canyon, with shops, restaurants, and hotels for tourists. It provides easy access to beautiful viewpoints and hiking areas.
Hermits Rest is a structure built in 1914 that serves as an entryway to magnificent hiking trails. This structure can be accessed by the seven-mile scenic drive on Hemits Road from Grand Canyon Village.
The twenty-five-mile Desert View drive from Grand Canyon Village takes you to Desert View overlook on the Grand Canyon Park’s southeastern edge.
You can drive about four hours from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the less busy North Rim, which also offers scenic views and beautiful trails for the hiking enthusiast.
Beginning at Lees Ferry and ending at the Grand Wash Cliffs, the Grand Canyon boasts a length of about 277 miles with awe-inspiring views, scenic hikes, and camping sites along the way. Some driving routes that can help you explore the Grand Canyon in your car include:
While closed to private cars from March 1st to November 30th, Hermits Road to Hermits Rest offers excellent views of the river, especially from Mohave Point and Pima Point. In addition, you can see views of the beautiful Maricopa Trail and Plateau Point Trail, as well as a memorial to Major John Wessley Powell, a one-armed Major from the Civil War.
This drive also provides access to Hopi Point, a favorite tourist spot to watch the sunset, and ends at the Hermits Rest, a building designed to look as if built by an isolated mountain man.
The drive from the Yavapai point–just around one mile east of Grand Canyon Village–to Desert View near the park’s east entrance affords magnificent views of the central and northeastern canyon. The Yavapai Geology Museum, located at the starting point of this drive, features interactive panels showing all the major landmarks in the Grand Canyon.
The Yavapai Point also allows views of at least five hiking trails. Important points on this route include the Grandview Point, one of the highest points in the South Rim; the Moran Point, the best place to view the rock known as Sinking Ship; and the Navajo Point, offering beautiful views of the Grand Canyon Supergroup.
You can also watch the sunset at Lipan Point, which gives you an excellent view of the Colorado River below. This drive ends at Desert View, marked with the seventy foot-high stone building called the Watchtower.
The drive, which offers stunning views of the eastern canyon, is great as it is not as crowded as other areas of the park. A few points to enjoy the views include the Walhalla Overlook, which shows the Unkar Creek; the Roosevelt Point, from where you can see the Little Colorado River’s gorge converge into the Grand Canyon; and Point Imperial, which is the North Rim’s highest point.
With these tips in mind, you’re ready for the perfect Grand Canyon tour by car! If you think driving to the Grand Canyon will be too difficult, be sure to check out our post on whether Grand Canyon bus tours are worth it.