Some things in life are worth waiting for, while others you just have to experience to understand the true natural beauty they possess. Taking a Grand Canyon road trip from Las Vegas was one of the most rewarding experiences we have ever encountered, so hopefully, after reading this post you will be inspired to visit for yourselves. Trying to find stunning Grand Canyon lookout points is not as easy as it sounds, especially when there are so many to choose from and with such a vast area that the canyon covers you have to be prepared to know where you are going.
When you think about some of the most breathtaking natural attractions around the world, there are likely to be a number of various locations that spring to mind. But I am convinced that many of you will mention the Grand Canyon as one of these natural wonders, hence the reason why this was voted as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World as determined by CNN in 2008.
The Grand Canyon Road Trip Begins
If you have not yet visited the Grand Canyon…Where have you been? Don’t worry, we only just visited Arizona’s finest attraction recently so you are not the only ones! However, you really are missing out on a majestic destination of spectacular beauty unless you decide to pay this National Park a visit in the near future! Just as the great Theodore Roosevelt stated:
In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.
Grand Canyon National Park
Having visited a number of gorgeous natural attractions around the world, of course, we headed to the Grand Canyon with high levels of anticipation, yet not really knowing what to expect despite all of the mass media attention that this location receives.
Excitement mixed with a hint of trepidation given that we feared we may be let down by this natural wonder filtered through our veins as we made the 4-hour journey from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim entrance.
There are really three main focal points worth visiting when considering where the best vantage point is to explore the Grand Canyon. Depending on what type of road trip you want to take or which direction you are heading will likely determine which of the three ‘rims’ are most suitable for you.
- WEST RIM – Key highlight is the Skywalk observation deck.
- NORTH RIM – Key highlight is this is a much more remote destination than the others (more difficult to access also).
- SOUTH RIM – Key highlight is accessibility and stunning lookout points – stereotypical Grand Canyon views are easy to find.
One thing is for sure…all three rims offer stunning scenery so you won’t be left disappointed whichever you choose!
Our itinerary saw us venture south from Las Vegas to Kingman, Arizona and then across I-40 to Williams before heading north to the Grand Canyon South Rim. The drive is pleasant and depending on your time constraints you may consider visiting some of the old western towns along the infamous Route 66 highway which runs parallel to I-40 for much of the route.
Passing through the National Park entrance and paying our $80 fee for a one-year annual pass for all USA National Parks, we headed in pursuit of our holy grail – the breathtaking views of the Canyon!
Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that Arizona, in particular, the Grand Canyon, encounters a climate of its very own and during the two days there, we experienced everything from snow showers and thunderstorms to gorgeous sunshine. But a little unpredictable weather wasn’t going to prevent us from exploring everything this National Park had to offer.
As you pass by the elk grazing in the national forest, you immediately realize that you are somewhere special. It’s not every day that you run across wildlife willing to pose for pictures as the many elk do in the Grand Canyon National Park. Meanwhile back to the real reason we visited here – the unmissable views across the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Our first day here saw us spend some time at a number of overlook points close to the visitor center. I would highly recommend taking time to speak with the local park rangers who will give advice on the best trails to hike and some hidden spots which will provide memorable views across the canyon. From novice trails to high-profile adventurer climbs, there is something for everyone’s fitness levels at the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Lookout Points
Where do you even start when it comes to finding the best viewing points at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim?
1. Mather Point
One of the first views that visitors to the South Rim are presented with is at Mather Point. I will say that this is not necessarily the best spot at the Grand Canyon for views but it is still pretty impressive and well worth taking the time to experience.
Located directly next to the visitor center, it is within walking distance of the parking lot and also gives a great look at the canyon before you decide where your travels will take you next.
There are a couple of expansive overlooks with protective barriers providing slightly different angles of the canyon, but if you are adventurous like we were you can capture some less crowded spots right by this point that provide equally spectacular scenes of the Grand Canyon vistas.
2. Yavapai Point
Moving away from the visitor center, a great spot to view what I believe is a more impressive canyon is Yavapai Point.
Situated close to the Yavapai Geology Museum where you can find detailed information on the geological composition of the Grand Canyon, this viewpoint offers some of the best vistas available especially when the weather is kind to you.
Yavapai Point is one of the first opportunities to really catch a glimpse of the Colorado River and perhaps now reality sets in as you realize just how far down the canyon drops!
3. Bright Angel & Lookout Studio Viewpoints
Perched on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the Lookout Studio which is a historic building providing gorgeous views of the canyon terraces.
“The Lookout” is located close to Bright Angel Lodge which is a perfect spot to stay the night before venturing down into the canyon along Bright Angel Trail.
Our time at the Lookout Studio was marred due to a pretty dense fog that set in across the Grand Canyon. However, the eerie atmosphere created a perfect setting as we contemplated the many stories that have been told here.
4. Moran Point
After exploring all of the gorgeous spots around the visitor center, we headed on a scenic road trip towards Cameron along the East Rim Drive. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of locations along this route where you could capture unique panoramic views.
Moran Point is one of the more popular spots offering perfect scenery of three of the Grand Canyon’s main rock groups.
The contrast in rock colors is evident especially when the sun is filtering down through the canyon. We visited Moran Point just after sunrise and this is definitely a great spot to capture pictures around the Golden Hour.
5. Navajo Point
Renowned as the highest viewing point on the South Rim, Navajo Point offers yet more breathtaking scenes across the Grand Canyon. At just under 7,500 feet, the views here are expansive and provide a true representation of the vast color dynamics and geological structures that make up the gorgeous Grand Canyon that we all love.
Easily accessible along the East Rim Drive, Navajo Point is one of the final stops along this route just before you reach the Desert Watchtower. Make the most of your time here and take in the beautiful scenery because soon you will be heading out of this amazing Natural Wonder.
Views of the Colorado River are available but the real attraction here is the myriad of buttes including the Escalante and Cardenas that are prevalent among the plethora of geologic wonders.
Allow your eyes to start out west and then slowly gaze across the landscape eastwards. Perhaps because I was a huge geography buff during my high school and university days, this is a really awesome attraction and definitely brings back memories of studying the different factors that caused these wonders to be formed.
6. Desert View
The final lookout point on the East Rim Drive (or first if you enter the park from the East) is Desert View which is accompanied by a watchtower that dates back to 1932. The view here is quite different as it offers a partial view of the plains surrounding the Colorado River, in addition to more picturesque landscapes of the canyon floor.
This is the final spot along the South Rim because the canyon diverts steeply into Cedar Canyon, another gorgeous natural form which is a tributary of the Little Colorado River.
I really think Desert View is worthy of spending quite some time here, not only to learn about Navajo history through the wall art and murals inside the watchtower but also to take in the unique views of the Colorado River and peaks that typify the Grand Canyon.
Breathtaking views and stunning scenery are common occurrences at the Grand Canyon and only when you see this for yourself will you truly appreciate the beauty here. Visiting this national park for the first time made us realize that conducting a little research prior to your trip is critical in helping you determine the best lookout points.
Of course, hiking the Grand Canyon is whole other ball game but sometimes you don’t have the time to experience the canyon on foot!
Hopefully, this post will give you a few tips as to what are the best Grand Canyon lookout points. Whatever you decide to experience, you will not be disappointed! The hardest part about visiting the Grand Canyon is leaving.
If you are interested in checking out all of our pictures from our trip to Grand Canyon, you can see them here: Grand Canyon National Park