Have only 24 hours in paradise? Make the most of it with this action-packed itinerary that includes Yavapai and Hopi Points, Bright Angel Trail, and Hermit’s Road.
Sunrise At Yaki Point
Hop a pre-dawn park shuttle from Grand Canyon Visitor Center to this quiet promontory jutting from the South Rim. Yaki Point is closed to private vehicles and loaded with expansive views to the east and west. Perch on a picnic table, sip coffee and watch the show.
Breakfast at El Tovar
Fuel up for a big day with a power breakfast at this historic Grand Canyon Village hotel. For local flavor try the Sonoran style eggs with chicken and chorizo or the polenta corn cakes with prickly pear pistachio butter. Breakfast is served 6:30 a.m.- 10:45 a.m.; no reservations necessary.
Watch Science on a Sphere
Ride the shuttle or walk on the Rim Trail to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center where there is the Science on a Sphere Theater, a theater-in-the-round where you can watch a fascinating film about the geologic history of the Grand Canyon that is projected on a sphere. The visitor center is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Learn about Geology
Walk a short distance on the Rim Trail from the Visitor’s Center to Yavapai Geology Museum. Peer through large plate glass windows looking onto the canyon panoramas and use interactive 3D topographic maps to learn the geologic story behind what you are seeing. Continue your education on the 1.3 mile Trail of Time, a geologic interpretive path that runs along the Rim Trail between the museum and Verkamp’s Visitor Center in Grand Canyon Village.
Picnic Lunch on Bright Angel Trail
Now that you know your geologic layers, see the inside of the Grand Canyon for yourself with a 1.5 mile hike on the Bright Angel Trail to Mile and a Half Resthouse. Picnic in the shade of the shelter or a nearby perch where you can watch for condors that often ride the thermals here. (The deli in the grocery store at Canyon Village Marketplace is a good place to get a lunch to go; open 7 a.m.-9 p.m.)
Ride Hermit Road
Soak in the quiet beauty of canyon vistas along Hermit Road. Rent a bicycle and cruise the Greenway Trail section between Monument Creek and Hermits Rest or walk the Rim Trail for several miles as you make your way to Hopi Point. Those with weary legs can ride the park shuttle.
Sunset at Hopi Point
Jutting farther out from the South Rim than any other promontory, Hopi Point is the place to be when the sun goes down. After sunset, hop a shuttle back to Grand Canyon Village.
Dinner at the Arizona Room in Bright Angel Lodge
Located in the Bright Angel Lodge, the Arizona Room features Southwest cuisine and rim side views of the canyon. Specialties include baby back ribs with smoky chipotle barbeque sauce and a cucumber margarita. Open for dinner 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m.; seating is first come, first served (no reservations).
Ranger Night Program
End your day with a long look at the cosmos which shine bright in the dark skies over Grand Canyon. An evening ranger program is offered nightly (8 p.m. summer; 7 p.m. fall/spring) at McKee Amphitheater (summer) and Shrine of the Ages.
You will get a park map when you enter the park at one of the entrance stations. But if you want to get a lay of the land with detailed trails and so on, Trails Illustrated makes three different Grand Canyon maps, depending on where you want to explore. You can buy them on REI.com.