This is How Much Time To Expect Spending At The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon sunset

Want to do more than just hop out of the car and stare out at the Grand Canyon for a couple of minutes? In order to really experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon, you should expect spending a day or two there.

The amount of time you spend at the Grand Canyon will vary based on the activities you choose. You should expect spending anywhere from 5 hours to 3 days in the Grand Canyon.

You’ll need to learn more about the four rims of the Grand Canyon in order to plan your time there. We’ll cover the rims and areas of the Canyon and the activities and hikes you could choose so you can determine the total time you’ll invest in your Grand Canyon adventure.

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

South, North, West, and East Rims of the Grand Canyon

Before you determine how much time to expect spending at the Grand Canyon, you need to know the areas you could visit and the activities you could possibly do. You might plan your road trip around which rim or rims you’ll be spending your time in, or plan your rim visits based on your road trip route.

The biggest tourist destinations in the Grand Canyon are the South Rim and West Rim. Here’s why.

Spending Time in the South Rim

The South Rim is the most developed Grand Canyon visitor spot, with Lookout Studio, breathtaking hikes, mule rides, and more. Hikes include Bright Angel Trail (perfect for beginners, but seven miles long). 

South Rim is an iconic Grand Canyon destination with the best viewpoints, and perfect for first-timers, children, and families.  The hikes to the following views are effortless.

In the South Rim, you can see world-class views like:

  • Yaki Point
  • Desert View
  • Mather Point 
Grand Canyon

What’s Up in the West Rim?

Grand Canyon West is operated by the Hualapai Indians and is less busy than the South Rim. Here, you can discover the Grand Canyon Skywalk, learn to rope, and watch cowboy entertainment. You can hike or explore the area by helicopter or off-road vehicles! They also offer rafting adventures!

The West Rim is a good choice for travelers who prefer quieter trips or are going to or from Vegas, as it is only three hours away.

While the South and West Rims are the most popular areas of the Grand Canyon, you could also spend time and see beautiful sites in Grand Canyon East or North.

From the West Rim, you can enjoy:

  • Eagle Point
  • Guano Point
  • Havasu Falls

What to Expect in the East Rim

In the East Rim, you can see the Little Colorado River Gorge and Horseshoe Bend, a stunning location with the Colorado River as your backdrop. Besides these major views, you’ve got to check out:

  • Marble Canyon
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Navajo Bridge
  • Tower Butte

Never Underestimate the North Rim

The North Rim is also a part of the National Park, like the South Rim, but it is quite a different experience than visiting the tourist-buzzing spot. The North Rim is cooler than the South Rim and features different plant and animal life. However, because it is colder, the season for tourism is short, from mid-May to mid-October.

People enjoy sunset at the North Rim Lodge – the lodge has a few rooms, a restaurant, souvenir shop, lounge, deli, and campground. North Rim has only three major viewpoints, while the South Rim has over twenty, but hey – that makes it easier to decide where you’re going to go. You can still hike and enjoy ranger-led programs in this area. However, North Rim can also be less accessible on popular road trip routes.

If you’re looking for the spot that’s calm, quiet, and still where you can get in touch with nature and the image of what the Grand Canyon was before the tourism, the North Rim may be the spot for you.

Best Grand Canyon Hikes & How Much Time They Take

If you’re doing the traditional South Rim route, the Bright Angel Trail will take you about 4-5 hours, but then about 7-8 hours back! The hike back can be longer due to elevation changes and increasing fatigue.

Planning to complete a major hike like Bright Angel in one day is not recommended.

South Kaibab Trail is less crowded and will require about 4-6 hours roundtrip. Hermit Trail is strenuous and a 4.5-mile roundtrip. Grandview Trail is a 6.5-mile roundtrip on an unmaintained and challenging trail. It takes about 4-5 hours to get to Horseshoe Mesa Hike.

Hiking Grand Canyon’s North Kaibab Trail is an exciting challenge. Backpackers spend three to four days hiking the trail, spending the night at Grand Canyon campgrounds along the way.

The Havasu Falls is incredible, and the hike is moderately difficult. It is 10 miles, and day hiking is not allowed. You must make reservations to participate in an overnight backpacking trip or a mule riding trip to see the falls.

Cape Final Trail only takes about two hours total. This four-mile hike is moderately level and not too crowded – a great option for families. Here you can see the Vishnu Temple and gorgeous views of the canyon. 

Transept Trail requires only about an hour and a half. You will follow the canyon rim down, starting at the Grand Canyon Lodge and finishing at the North Rim Campground – a great place to grab some food and stay the night.

Other Possible Itinerary & Activity Suggestions

You don’t have to hike at all if you don’t want to. There are plenty of things to do besides hike – you can sightsee via car, off-road vehicle, helicopter, raft, or other means depending on which area you’re visiting. The Hermits Rest offers free shuttles in the West area.

Other things to carve out time for in the Grand Canyon include:

  • Ranger talks and ranger-led history programs
  • Junior Ranger programs
  • Archaeological site and museum
  • Visitor centers and gift shops
  • Floating the Colorado River
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Bike ride
  • Boat trips
  • Bookstores
  • Mule rides
  • Geology museum
  • Grand Canyon IMAX movie
  • Gift shops
  • Watch the sunset from any viewpoint

Research the hikes and activities that pique your interest to get a better idea of the time each one will take.

Itinerary idea 1: If you’re coming from Arizona, take Highway 89 North and enter through Desert View. Stop at the major viewpoints and get some amazing photos of the Little Colorado River Gorge and Grandview Point, then enjoy Navajo tacos at The Cameron Trading Post.

Itinerary idea 2: If you’re in the South Rim, complete the quick 3-mile Kaibab Trail or the more challenging but shorter Grandview Trail. Take in the spectacular views. For memorable dining, try El Tovar or the Arizona Room. 

Itinerary idea 3:Embrace the 9.2 mile Bright Angel hike and take your time memorizing the views. Plan on a multi-day hike. Then dig into an ice cream cone on the deck just behind Bright Angel Lodge, get a room, and get a good night’s sleep.

Itinerary idea 4: Got just a few hours? Pick one section of the South Rim, like Hermit Road or Desert View Drive. Get a shuttle or hike or bike to see the a few viewpoints.

Itinerary idea 5: If you have a half-day to spend, park at the Grand Canyon visitor center in the South Rim. Check out Mather Point and Yaki Point. Hike to the South Kaibab Trailhead and check out Ooh Ahh Point before heading back to explore the Visitor’s Center.

The typical stay in the Grand Canyon lasts five to seven hours. Looking down into the canyon takes less than 20 minutes, but to create an unforgettable experience, you should plan on 1-3 days.

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