Grand Canyon Day Trip: The Ultimate One Day Itinerary

Woman watching Grand Canyon Sunset

Only have one-day at the Grand Canyon? No worries! We have a complete Grand Canyon trip planner to help you make the most of your Grand Canyon day trip.

From things to see and do at the Grand Canyon to the best places to see sunrise and sunset, our Grand Canyon one day itinerary has you covered!

South Rim Grand Canyon Day Trip

Grand Canyon Day Trip Itinerary

Alright ladies and gents, are you ready for an amazingly, wonderful FULL DAY at one of the most beautiful places on earth, the GRAND CANYON?!

Well, get those shoes tied tight, we have the perfect Grand Canyon day trip itinerary below.

Check out our 2 week ultimate Arizona road trip here!

South Rim Grand Canyon Overlook
South Rim Grand Canyon Overlook

Grand Canyon Sunrise

First things first. Your Grand Canyon day trip starts with a killer sunrise!

There are few things in this world that are as unforgettable as a Grand Canyon sunrise. Trust us, this is something you wont want to miss.

Set your alarm and make your way to Bright Angel Trailhead. Everyone will rush to popular sunrise spots like Hopi Point, and actually, we were going to go there too. It wasn’t until we found a spot right off Bright Angel Trailhead that is perfect for a Grand Canyon sunrise.

Here’s how you get to the Grand Canyon sunrise spot….

  • Once at Hermit’s Rest shuttle stop, make your way to the west.
    • If your backs to the shuttle stop, go left
  • You’ll see a paved trail aka the South Rim trail
  • Hop on the trail
  • Almost immediately, exit the trail to your right and make your way through the brush towards the Grand Canyon
  • Once at the Grand Canyon, there is a perfect rock for two that overlooks the canyon.
  • This is where you should sit to watch the most amazing Grand Canyon sunrise

You’ll be graced with breathtaking sunrise colors and views like these below…

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon
Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Morning – Bright Angel Lodge

Once sunrise has finished, make your way to Bright Angel Lodge. Here you can grab a cup of coffee on their outside patio and enjoy spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.

If you are hungry, no worries! There is a restaurant on site where you can grab a hot meal and fuel up for the day.

Coffee & Sunrise

Afternoon – The South Rim Trail

It’s time to hit the South Rim trail! One of the best and easiest ways to see amazing views of the Grand Canyon is hiking the South Rim Trail.

South Rim Grand Canyon Map
South Rim Trail Map

The South Rim Trail is a 12 mile, one way, hike suitable for all ages. You can walk the South Rim Trail or rent a bike and cycle some sections.

WARNING: Large sections of the South Rim Trail do not have barriers protecting hikers from the Canyon below. If you are hiking with children, please use extra caution.

If you’re thinking, “12 miles one way, 24 miles round trip, that’s a lot of walking!” Don’t let that bit worry you.

There are shuttle stops throughout the hike so if your feet need a rest, or if you just want to skip sections, just catch the shuttle to your next desired location 🙂

Grand Canyon Day Trip Trail Route & Guide

Your first to-do is to make your way to the Grand Canyon Visitors Center, then make the short walk to Mather’s Point to kick off your South Rim Trail hike!

South Rim Trail Grand Canyon
South Rim Trail Grand Canyon

Continue walking the South Rim Trail west to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum, then enter the Geology Museum (don’t worry, it’s free). Here, you will learn how the Grand Canyon was formed and about the pioneers who discovered it.

After a little Grand Canyon education, walk 1.5 miles or catch the shuttle to the “Train Depot.”

Once at the Train Depot, walk up the hill to explore the Hopi House. The Hopi House is a structure designed in 1905 by the famous architect, Mary Colter.

After the Hopi House, head just across the way to the El Tovar Hotel for some lunch. Chill in the restaurant, have some beers and rest those feet because our South Rim Trail hike is not done!

Hopi Point Overlook
Hopi Point Overlook

Enjoy your lunch with views then continue your way west, towards the Hermits Rest Shuttle Stop. Once at the Hermits Rest Shuttle Stop, you have two options – jump on the shuttle to Mohave Point or walk the 2.5 miles to Mohave Point.

You’ll immediately notice the difference in views, as you step out onto Mohave Point. The western section of the Grand Canyon has drastic drops that offer spectacular views of the Colorado River below.

South Rim Grand Canyon Views
South Rim Grand Canyon Views

For the rest of your afternoon, make your way from Mohave to Hopi and then onto Powell Point. These points are the “must-see” views along the western section of the South Rim Trail.

Mohave, Hopi and Powell are popular for sunset, but what we have in mind for you is something less  “crowded.” You’re going to Yaki Point for sunset!

Grand Canyon Sunset

Between the east and west side of the South Rim Trail, the east side is by far the less visited of the two. This makes the east side a great place to avoid the crowds, making it a great spot for a Grand Canyon sunset.

If you are following our above Grand Canyon itinerary, then Yaki Point is on the complete opposite end of the Rim Trail from where you are at currently.

To get to Yaki Point, make your way to the Hermits Rest / Village Route Transfer Shuttle stop. Take the blue shuttle route back to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and catch the orange shuttle route east to Yaki Point.

Once you disembark from the shuttle at Yaki Point, do not stop at the first overlook. Continue along the path towards the second overlook.

Just before you get the second overlook, make you way left off the path. Walk along a few feet, then you’ll find plenty of secluded points for you to sit quietly and watch the beautiful colors paint their way onto the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Sunset at Yaki Point
Grand Canyon Sunset at Yaki Point

Grand Canyon at Night

We bet you’re ready for dinner after watching an unforgettable sunset. Yavapi Tavern is the perfect place for a meal. Enjoy local craft beers and pub-food as you sit on the patio surrounded by a fire.

Sounds nice, right?

Leaving Grand Canyon National Park

You have enjoyed one epic Grand Canyon day trip, now it’s time to leave Grand Canyon National Park. We know, we know, sad day.

Depending on which way you exit the park, to the south towards Tusayan or to the east towards Cameron, there are some spots to stop at.

Heading Towards Cameron: Desert View Watchtower

If you are heading east out of Grand Canyon National Park towards Cameron, be sure to stop at the Desert View Watchtower.

Desert View Watchtower is a 70-foot-high stone building located just before you exit the east entrance of Grand Canyon National Park.

Desert View Watchtower offers 360 degree views from it observation tower. Inside you’ll take in the intricate details and designs of the building and petroglyphs paintings.

Really, Desert View Watchtower, is a great last view of the Grand Canyon before you leave the park.

Desert View Watchtower
Desert View Watchtower

Heading Towards Tusayan: Route 66

If your plans are to exit Grand Canyon National Park via the south entrance towards Tusayan, then you’ll need to get your kicks on Route 66!

Williams, Arizona is located a little less than an hour from Grand Canyon South Rim. Wondering what’s so special about Williams? Well, Williams was the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40.

Make time to stop in Williams for lunch at a traditional 1960’s diner. Treat yourself to a classic coke and milkshake before you explore the towns memorabilia shops.

Getting our Kicks on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona
Getting our Kicks on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona

Welp that’s it! We hope you enjoyed your one day in the Grand Canyon as much as we did!


PIN IT FOR LATER!

Grand Canyon Day Trip Pin

For more travel tips, guides and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, follow us on Instagram @wanderingstusPinterest and on Facebook. Oh, and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, just leave us a positive note!

Happy Travels,

– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: