Destination two of our spring break vacation: South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Prior to this we stopped in Santa Fe, New Mexico where we did day trips to Bandelier National Monument and Museum of International Folk Art. The Grand Canyon is truly grand and now I can see why you can spend multiple days there. However, we crammed everything into one. Check out our Grand Canyon one day itinerary below.
Tips Before you Go
Check the Weather
We all have this idea of Arizona being hot and dry, but the weather in northern Arizona and the canyon is not so in winter and spring. Even in March, the North Rim is closed because of snow. We visited the South Rim the second week of March and it had snowed a few days before we arrived.
As of March 2021, Grand Canyon National Park was completely open. Masks were required for entry. All buildings were closed. This included the visitors center and all museums. Restaurants were only 25% staffed. This led to very long lines for food.
Pack and Dress Appropriately
Again, the weather in the canyon is very interesting. I obsessively checked the weather, even the morning of. It said the high temperature was going to be 65 degrees. So, I just had the kids wear t-shirts and light jackets. We got there and it was 40 degrees. Interestingly, the sun was so intense a light jacket was fine. But somehow I needed gloves. Weird.
Shoes: we did not hike down into the canyon, so athletic shoes served us appropriately. The trails and walkways along the rim are paved.
Affiliate links for similar items below. Clearly I am not dressed for hiking.
Our Grand Canyon One Day Itinerary
We planned our trip somewhat last minute, so we were unable to book lodging at the Grand Canyon. We ended up staying in Flagstaff, which is about 90 miles south. The road leading to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff is two lanes, meaning it backs up quickly. Make sure you account for that when entering. I bought our Grand Canyon entrance pass ahead of time, but it didn’t save us much time at the entrance.
Park at Grand Canyon Visitor Center & Mather Point
The visitor center is actually closed, but it is a good place to park and walk to Mather Point. That first view of the Canyon is breathtaking and there are some great opportunities to take photos.
Rent Bikes from Bright Angel Bikes
Bright Angel Bikes is the only bike rental company inside Grand Canyon National Park. Little tip: all bike rentals and tours were booked weeks before our visit. However, stop by the shop around noon and they usually have some available after their first round of tours come back. We rode bikes from there to Hermit Rd with the intention of going further, but the kids and I couldn’t do the hills. Along the way we saw the Grand Canyon Railway and a wild horse and her fawn!
Lunch at Grand Canyon Village Market
Almost all restaurants had limited capacity, so we just stopped at Grand Canyon Village Market. It’s a grocery store that has a quick pickup restaurant inside – think pizza, sandwiches, etc.
Scenic Drive Along Desert View Dr.
My husband loves to drive and kids were a little tired. So we drove along Desert View Dr. until we came to Desert View Point. This was the easternmost point that you could visit at the time of our visit. Unfortunately all buildings were closed, so for us it offered a different view of the canyon.
So the sun isn’t the actual focal point of sunset at the Grand Canyon, it is the canyon itself. To see the changing of the colors and the sky is truly majestic. We just wanted to find a peaceful spot for our family to observe, so we found a random lookout spot to park to enjoy.
That’s it for our trip to the Grand Canyon. I was a little overwhelmed by how big it was and how much there is to do. My husband is already planning his next trip, which involves hiking down the Bright Angel Trail, and does not include me.