Day Hiking the Grand Canyon
South Rim – Grand Canyon, Arizona
I sat resting my feet on a large rock, overhanging a sheer cliff at Ooh Aah point. I soaked in the expansive views of the Grand Canyon. It’s impossible to take in all at once – a landscapes so immense that it tricks the eyes. Amazing places like this always touch my soul; experiences like this are what make traveling so magical for me!
The Grand Canyon is the second most visited National Park in the United States, reaching roughly 5 million visitors per year! Many people spend days or weeks visiting the park to raft, hike and camp, but the large majority only visit for a day. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend here but still want to make the most of your experience a leisurely day-hike combined with sightseeing several viewpoints might be the perfect solution.
I knew before visiting that I wanted a more intimate experience than simply looking out over a parking lot viewpoint and leaving. So I chose to hike with a tour company, All-Star Grand Canyon Tours. They offered several hikes from easy to advanced and I chose the easy one, a trail that leads down to incredible panoramic views but wasn’t too long for a single day.
We began the hike at the South Kaibab trailhead – at 7,200 feet above sea level. the trail well maintained and well used but wasn’t extremely busy. The hike to Ooh, Aah Point descended down to 6,660 feet and was just under 1-mile distance (one-way). Overall we spent about 2 hours hiking in and out, with a long break to enjoy lunch while soaking up the view. Any person of normal fitness level could tackle this hike as long as they can handle the hot temperatures.
On the way back up the trail I spotted a gopher snake and was able to snap off a couple photos before it slithered away. Don’t worry, they’re not poisonous! But the rattlesnakes are, so be careful where you step 😉
The Desert View Watchtower
Completed in 1932 the watchtower was our last sightseeing stop on the tour. At 70 feet tall it is home to what might be the best and most expansive view of the Grand Canyon anywhere on the South/East Rim. There’s a large open-air deck on the second story and window views from even higher up.
Whether you’re on your own or with a tour I definitely advise trying to visit the tower for it’s incredible views. It was designed by famous American architect Mary Colter and was inspired by native people’s authentic towers. It’s located roughly 20 miles from the South Rim entrance. There’s also a gift shop and several food choices for those in need of a snack or meal.
Using an Expert Guide Vs. A Self Guided Tour
It’s perfectly possible to drive yourself to the park and check it out without a guide. But without careful and detailed planning you won’t know the best viewpoints, the right places to hike, and you’ll probably end up at the same crowded parking lot everyone else shows up to. That’s what happened to me the first time I visited the Grand Canyon many years ago.
I decided it was better to find a tour guide to show me around and make the most of a relaxing and enjoyable day without any planning involved on my part (for once). Since I visited during the hot summer I didn’t want to embark on any extreme hikes, just something short and not too strenuous. After searching around I found the top rated Grand Canyon tour company had just what I was looking for – a guided day hike combined with a few hours of sightseeing. With my transportation, lunch and everything else included all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the park’s incredible beauty. The tour guide was actually an encyclopedia of knowledge and although I tried, couldn’t stump her with some tough questions. Her knowledge of the park’s history and it’s wildlife actually helped me learn and appreciate a lot more than I would have without it. Sometimes it really is worth the added cost to have an experienced guide on your trip!
Don’t Miss All The Great Photos!
View the Grand Canyon Photo Gallery Here
Tour length: All Day
Tour Price: $200 for adults
- Wear good shoes.
- Apply sunscreen, the sun is intense here.
- Drink plenty of water.