Know Before You Go, Grand Canyon South Rim

Know Before You Go, Grand Canyon South Rim


You’ve seen the photos and heard the stories, now, prepare to experience the wonder of the Grand Canyon for yourself!

Here’s what to expect on your Shaka Guide South Rim adventure.

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Start Planning!

Here are a few things to know in order to have the best experience on your Grand Canyon South Rim tour.

  • The tour has two directions - northbound (clockwise) or southbound (counterclockwise).
  • The northbound/clockwise tour begins in either Flagstaff or Williams and can return the same way or continue northwards to Bitter Springs.
  • The southbound/counterclockwise tour begins in Page and Flagstaff and can return the same way or continue southwards to Flagstaff or Williams.
  • Many Grand Canyon shops and attractions close in the early evening - check hours of operation in advance.
  • South Rim has a free shuttle. However, all of the points of interest can be explored by car, except for Hermit’s Road and Yaki Point.
  • To explore Hermit Road in March-November, you’ll need to take the Hermit Shuttle on the red route. In the off-season, individual automobiles are allowed to drive on Hermit Road. Don’t worry - the tour still works on the shuttle! 
  • Yaki Point always requires a shuttle. Board the Kaibab Shuttle on the orange route. A convenient place to board is the Grand Canyon Visitor Center near Mather Point. The tour still works on this shuttle 
  • You can purchase a parking pass at the South Entrance Gate at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center in Tusayan or online here 
  • The entrance costs $35 per vehicle. Entry fees are credit/debit only.
  • All camping and overnight trips require a backcountry permit.
  • Cell reception is spotty in and around the canyon. Don’t worry, Shaka Guide tours work completely offline - no wifi or data necessary! 
  • Rafting in the canyon requires advanced booking. Check here for more information.
  • Phantom Ranch, the popular inner-canyon lodging site, is booked out months in advance. To check or start planning your trip, check Phantom Ranch's availability here.

What to Expect

grand canyon south rim overlook

To Get an Early Start

It’s important to set out with realistic expectations. The South Rim is a busy place, and during the summer or around holidays, there can be a lot of waiting around and shuffling between crowds.

It’s best to get to the canyon early to make the most of your day — that way you can spend more time exploring and less time waiting. 

We recommend that you arrive at Grand Canyon South Rim by 8 a.m.

After that, you may have to wait in line at the entrance gate.

Plus, with so many highlights closing in the early evening, it’s important to make the most of those precious early hours.

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To Spend 8-10 Hours Exploring

Our Shaka Guide South Rim tour is designed to make the most of your time and allow you to glimpse every area of the park in just one day.

During your tour, you’ll explore:

  • the Yavapai Geology Museum
  • Grand Canyon Village
  • scenic Hermit Road
  • and the breathtaking Desert View Drive

It’s definitely a busy day, packed full of all of the South Rim highlights you won’t want to miss!

However, if you want to set out at a more leisurely pace, or plan to spend more time hiking, your tour can be spread across two or even three days.

Check out our itinerary for more details.

To Be Active

hiker above grand canyon south rim overlook

Whether your ideal day in the South Rim consists of shopping in the village and wandering from overlook to overlook, or getting up early to beat the sun to the canyon below, you can anticipate an active day of fun-filled activities.

For those who want to take things slowly, or who may be traveling with children, the Grand Canyon has plenty of viewpoints that are both accessible and breathtaking.

If you’re on the more adventurous side, consider taking a rim-to-river hike down into the heart of the canyon.

Check our hiking guide for more details, including help picking out the right trail for you.

To Learn

The story of the Grand Canyon's formation, like the canyon itself, is unlike anything else on the planet.

And we'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't tell you about it.

On your tour, you’ll learn not just about the geology of the canyon, but also about the indigenous peoples, pioneering women, and forward-thinking conservationists who have played such an important role in its history.


  • $10 per person: Snacks
  • $10-15 per person: Lunch
  • $20-30 per person: Dinner
  • $35.00 per vehicle: Grand Canyon Weekly Park Pass

Helpful Planning Tips 

Shuttle Service

Grand Canyon National Park: Tusayan Shuttle Bus 0027U.S. National Park Service

With the exception of Yaki Road and Hermit Road, all areas of the park are accessible by private vehicles.

Be aware, however, that parking fills up quickly, and drivers may need to circle several times by mid-morning to find parking. 

If you do find parking, but it’s not where you need it, consider catching a shuttle to where you need to go in the park.

shuttle schedule in grand canyon south rimNPS 2022

To reach Yaki Point, all visitors must board the Kaibab Shuttle (orange route). Again, no private vehicles are ever allowed down Yaki Road.

To reach Hermit’s Rest, all visitors from March through November must board the Hermit Shuttle (red route). Again, private vehicles are only allowed from December to February.

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What to Bring With You

As with most national parks, a little preparation can make all the difference in your Grand Canyon experience.

Check off this list for suggestions on what to bring before you set out on your canyon adventure.

  • Headphones - Required for listening while on shuttles!
  • Charger - Very important!
  • Layered Clothing - Easy on-and-off layers are a must for changing canyon temperatures.
  • Refillable Water Bottles
  • Hiking/Walking Sticks
  • Good Shoes/ Hiking Boots
  • Crampons/Spikes - Trails may be icy, even in the Spring.
  • Blacklight - Bring one if you want to spot the scorpions that live in the canyon.
  • Sunscreen
  • Snacks
  • Hats/Sunglasses
  • Camera/Phone Cleanser - The bottom of the canyon can be very dusty.

Already in the canyon, but forgot to pick up something important? No worries – here’s where to get it.

For rental gear, check out Grand Canyon Outfitters. For everything else, including first-aid kits, sunscreen, bug spray, and snacks, head to Grand Canyon Market Plaza.

Leave No Trace

hiker walking in trails south rim

The Grand Canyon is a stunning, sometimes spiritual place, and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

To preserve that wonder for others, be sure to practice safe and respectful travel, the Shaka Guide Way. 

During your visit, be sure to adhere to the leave-no-trace principles.

Pack it all out, pick up your trash, take nothing but pictures, respect the wildlife, and stick to the path. 

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grand canyon south rim tour

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We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more information and to check out the tour, be sure to check out the accompanying itinerary.


The Ultimate Grand Canyon South Rim Travel Guide

Grand Canyon South Rim Tour Itinerary

Grand Canyon, North vs South Rim: Everything You Need to Know

The Best Views Grand Canyon South Rim

20 Things to Do at the Grand Canyon South Rim

Top 16 Grand Canyon South Rim Hikes

Hiking into the Grand Canyon South Rim

All About the Grand Canyon Shuttle Buses

How To Get From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim

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