The South Rim is the most visited place in The Grand Canyon.
Many people think of it as the “true Grand Canyon.”
If you see spectacular views on TV or in magazines, it’s usually the South Rim.
Visitors love it for the variety of guest services and family-oriented activities.
It’s open year-round and easily accessible to major cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Most of the attractions, tours, hotels, and restaurants in the Grand Canyon are in or near the South Rim.
We’ve put together a list of the best things to do at the South Rim so you can plan your next itinerary.
Included are some of the best tours and hotels nearby.
- 1. Grand Canyon IMAX Theater & Visitor Center
- 2. Grand Canyon Railway
- 3. Yavapai Geology Museum
- 4. Kolb Studio
- 5. Verkamp’s Visitor Center
- 6. Tusayan Ruins and Museum
- 7. Desert View Watchtower
- 8. Mather Point
- 9. Hiking
- Grand Canyon South Rim Tours from Las Vegas
- Where to Stay
- Grand Canyon South Rim Map
1. Grand Canyon IMAX Theater & Visitor Center
The IMAX Theater & Visitor Center is the perfect start to your Grand Canyon adventure.
Through the magic of IMAX, you’ll experience the Grand Canyon as if you’re actually inside.
Soar like an eagle over the rim and into the heart of the canyon.
Feel the white water rushing around you as you take a raft trip down the Colorado River.
All while sitting in the comfort of a 500-seat movie theater.
You can easily spend 1-2 hours here since it’s also a Visitor Center for the Grand Canyon.
Inside you’ll find a selection of Native American Crafts and Grand Canyon Souvenirs.
There’s also a Park Service pay station where you can buy your entry ticket and avoid the lines.
- Opening Hours: March 1 – October 31: 8:30am to 8:30pm; November 1 – February 28: 9:30am to 6:30pm
- Prices: from Adults $13.59; Children $10.33
- Address: 450 AZ-64, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
2. Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway travels from Williams, Arizona, to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
It’s a scenic trip back in time aboard vintage railcars that have been lovingly restored.
Characters and musicians from the Old West will entertain you throughout the trip.
You might even find yourself in the middle of a gunfight or train robbery.
Look out your window as the terrain changes from high desert to pine forest.
You’ll even catch a glimpse of the snowcapped San Francisco Peaks.
Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon station, the railway offers a choice of tours and activities.
Full-day tours on the Grand Canyon Railway start at $125.
- Schedule: Departures from 9:30am; check schedule
- Address: 233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams, Arizona, 86046
3. Yavapai Geology Museum
The Yavapai Geology Museum sits on the edge of the rim at Yavapai Point.
It was originally built as a vantage point for geologists to observe the grounds of the Grand Canyon.
Built from pine and limestone, it’s designed to blend in with its surroundings.
Each panoramic window has annotated displays explaining to visitors what they’re viewing.
The focal point of the museum is a detailed full-color topographic relief map of the Grand Canyon.
You’ll see displays including handcrafted artwork, three-dimensional models, and photographs.
These are designed so visitors can see and understand the area’s unique geology.
- Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
- Address: Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
4. Kolb Studio
Kolb Studio is more than an old house perched on the rim of the canyon.
It’s one of the South Rim’s earliest tourist destinations.
Kolb Studio was the first commercial photography studio inside a National Park.
The Kolb’s were some of the earliest photographers to specialize in National Park tourism.
For over 75 years, Kolb Studio documented the tourists and imagery of the Grand Canyon.
Inside are films and photos of the first tourists to visit the Grand Canyon and raft the Colorado River.
It’s been a home, photography studio, and theater for the Kolb Brothers slide shows and films.
Designated as a park icon and historical landmark, it’s now an art gallery and bookstore.
- Opening Hours: Seasonal exhibits. Check official site
- Address: Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
5. Verkamp’s Visitor Center
Built in 1906, Verkamp’s Visitors Center still stands in its original location 100 feet from the rim.
It’s a short walk up the hill from the train depot and El Tovar Hotel.
One of the South Rim’s first concessions, it served as a home and curio shop for over a century.
In 2008 the National Park Service opened it as a visitor center and Grand Canyon bookstore.
Inside, you’ll find exhibits that describe what it was like to live and work at the Grand Canyon.
The daily ranger-led history walk starts at Verkamp Visitors Center.
It’s a walking timeline tour of important events in the area’s history.
National Park Service Rangers are also available to answer any questions.
- Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
- Address: 100 S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
6. Tusayan Ruins and Museum
The Tusayan Ruins is an 800-year-old Pueblo Indian site in Grand Canyon National Park.
It’s considered one of the major archaeological sites in Arizona.
The museum features exhibits of the daily life of an ancient Native American village.
Exhibits include pottery, arrowheads, and artifacts used by the area’s earliest inhabitants.
The most popular display is the collection of 4000-year-old split twig figurines.
Other exhibits cover the modern history of the Grand Canyon’s 5 Native American Tribes.
Visitors can choose from ranger-led tours or self-guided tours of the ruins and museum.
Starting at $185, many private South Rim tours include Tusayan Ruins & Museum as a tour stop.
- Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
- Address: Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
7. Desert View Watchtower
The Desert View Watchtower is a monument to the ancient inhabitants of the Grand Canyon.
It’s one of several buildings designed by architect Mary Colter in the Grand Canyon area.
The Watchtower is so well designed it’s hard to tell where the canyon walls end and the tower begins.
On the ground floor, you’ll find a gift shop selling Native American curios and souvenirs.
As you explore the interior, you’ll find murals painted by the famous Hopi painter Fred Kabotie.
The top floors are an observation deck with spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.
On a clear day, visitors can experience panoramic views of over 100 miles.
- Opening Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
- Address: Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
8. Mather Point
With its panoramic views, Mather Point is one of the most visited spots in Grand Canyon National Park.
Here is where most visitors to the South Rim get their first look into the Grand Canyon.
It’s the number one choice due to its proximity to the entrance station and visitors center.
Mather Point offers spectacular views of the North Rim, Colorado River, and colorful rock formations.
If you look down, you may catch a glimpse of Phantom Ranch at the base of the North Rim.
Thanks to the wide views and colorful formations, it’s a popular place to watch the sunrise and set.
Be sure to get there early to enjoy the changing colors.
- Opening Hours: 24/7
- Address: Rim Trail, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, United States
Other viewing points to see Grand Canyon
- Grandview Point
- Lookout Studio
- Yavapai Point
- Moran Point
- Navajo Point
- Lipan Point
- Pipe Creek Vista
- Yaki point
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon offers hikers a variety of scenic hiking trails.
Each trail is unique, and hikers should be prepared for steep climbs, rough terrain, and scorching heat.
- Bright Angel Trailhead – This beautiful trail is one of the most scenic hikes in the South Rim. The natural spring and desert oasis at Indian Garden are breathtaking. The return trip is a strenuous climb with intense heat and harsh terrain.
- South Rim Trail – The easiest of all the South Rim trails. It’s 12 miles of level and paved surface that follows the rim. This trail offers beautiful panoramic views of the Canyon.
- South Kaibab Trailhead – It’s not as popular as the other trails because there’s no water source and very little shade. The trail is steep, strenuous, and difficult. But the magnificent view from Ooh-Aah point is worth it.
- Hermit Trail – More difficult than Bright Angel or South Kaibab because it’s rocky and steep. This 5-mile hike ends at Santa Maria Springs natural pool and waterfalls. It is only recommended for experienced hikers.
- Grandview Trail – The trail is steep, rocky, and not maintained. It’s for experienced hikers only. The views of Horseshoe Mesa are beautiful. There are also caves to explore at the Cave of Domes.
Grand Canyon South Rim Tours from Las Vegas
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is just a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas.
Full-day sightseeing tours pick you up in the morning and have you back in the casinos at night.
Starting at $90, most tours allow you to explore the Grand Canyon at your own pace.
Along the way, you’ll stop at the historic Hoover Dam and the legendary Route 66 in Seligman Arizona.
At the South Rim, you can hike, check out the view, visit the IMAX theater, or take a helicopter tour.
What you do is up to you, and some adventures are extra and not included in the tour.
Las Vegas South Rim Tours are perfect for those who only have a short time to see the Grand Canyon.
Where to Stay
Mather Campground – Arizona Luxury Expeditions
Arizona Luxury Expeditions is a 2-day, 1-night luxury tour and “Glamping Trip” at the South Rim.
At the Grand Canyon, you’ll spend the afternoon exploring with a professional guide.
Your tented camp offers a gourmet BBQ dinner and a hearty American breakfast in the morning.
The “Glamping Tents” feature a dining area, luxury mattress, and a warm comforter.
After breakfast, guests are free to hike, visit Grand Canyon Village, or relax at the campsite.
Unlike other guided tours, with Arizona Luxury Expeditions, it’s your tour.
You’re free to explore the Grand Canyon on your schedule.
Arizona Luxury Expedition “Glamping” Tours start at $2,335 for 2 days and 1 night.
- Accommodation: Luxury Tents / Glamping
- Address: Market Plaza Road, Tusayan, AZ 86023, United States of America
Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Experience the luxury of another era at the refurbished Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
It continues to be the finest hotel in Williams.
Located next to the train depot, it’s the perfect place to begin your trip to the Grand Canyon.
Rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, satellite channels, and private bathrooms.
You can relax with a drink at Spenser’s Pub or enjoy a buffet dinner at the Fred Harvey Restaurant.
After a long day exploring the Grand Canyon, take a dip in the pool, or soak in the hot tub.
There’s also a horseshoe pit and a children’s playground.
The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway or family vacation.
- Guest Rating: 8.5
- Star Rating: 4 stars
- Address: 233 North Grand Canyon, Williams, AZ 86046, United States of America
The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon
The Grand Hotel at The Grand Canyon is one of the only 5-star hotels in the area.
This three-story chalet is the perfect combination of rustic and modern.
Located a mile from the south entrance, it’s a short drive to the scenic South Rim.
Rooms come with private baths, flat-screen TVs, satellite channels, and game consoles.
The Grand Hotel is one of the few area hotels with an indoor swimming pool and hot tub.
You’ll get celebrity treatment at the hotel’s world-class restaurant and cocktail lounge.
For your convenience, there’s a business center, fitness center, and 24-hour front desk.
Rooms at the Grand Hotel start at $385 per night.
- Guest Rating: 8.4
- Star Rating: 5 stars
- Address: 149 State Highway 64, Tusayan, AZ 86023, United States of America
Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn
This Best Western hotel is a short 10-minute drive from the entrance to the Grand Canyon.
They offer an on-site tour desk to assist guests in choosing the perfect Grand Canyon tour.
You’re only 5 minutes from Grand Canyon airport, which offers tours of the Canyon.
Guests can dine in the Coronado Room or enjoy a drink in the Squire Pub.
There’s also a game room and a bowling alley for guests to enjoy.
Or relax by the indoor pool after a long day of exploring the Grand Canyon.
And you can buy Grand Canyon souvenirs at the gift shop in the lobby.
Rates start at $610 for a two-night stay.
- Guest Rating: 8.4
- Star Rating: 4 stars
- Address: 74 Highway 64, Tusayan, AZ 86023, United States of America
Grand Canyon South Rim Map
The South Rim is approximately 280 miles from Las Vegas.
It’s a 5-hour drive making it a popular destination for one-day tours.
Or drive yourself and stay overnight in one of the South Rim’s nearby hotels.
Then, you can drive back the following day without rushing.
Admission to the South Rim is good for 7 days and includes admission to the North Rim.
A vehicle entry permit is $35 and admits one motor vehicle for 7 days
An individual entry permit is $20.
It admits one individual when entering on foot, bicycle, shuttle bus, or Grand Canyon Railway.
Individuals 15 years old or younger are admitted free.
The West Rim is the closest and most accessible part of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
It’s less crowded and open year-round.
However, the South Rim is the most visited part of the Grand Canyon, with easy access to Phoenix and Las Vegas.
The South Rim has more to do, including attractions, hotels, tours, and restaurants.
The West Rim might be more convenient, but if you’re looking for more things to do, South Rim is the best option.
You can also see what’s on offer in our guide 8 Best Things to do in Grand Canyon West Rim.