Grand Canyon South Rim RV Tips + Lesser Known Overlooks!

June 2023 – We visited the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in our RV travels this year in part because we’d never really gotten to know the place, despite several previous trips. Our hope was that on this visit we would spend more time, be less rushed, and come away feeling a bond to it that had been lacking before. By the time we left 10 days later, we’d fulfilled that dream in spades. This post shares our tips for finding peace and quiet at this busy place and suggests some lesser known overlooks that are worth seeing!

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim RV tips + Lesser Known Overlooks!

This sign is so popular for selfies that there is a special side road to it as you drive in.
But ya gotta do it!!

In the past, like everyone else, we had zipped to the rim, dodging the crowds as we went, peered over the edge in a few places, been awe-struck by every view, and left.

This time, for some reason, there were very few crowds. Perhaps it was the colder than normal spring season. Perhaps it was the impact of inflation keeping travelers at home. Or perhaps it was just our own personal timing.

1000 Places to See Before You Die

After a few days, we realized that we kept going into Grand Canyon National Park at odd and unpopular hours, and maybe that was the reason it was quiet!

We’d arrive at Grand Canyon at 5:30 in the afternoon, just in time to find a spot to watch the sunset, and shortly after the crowds had left! There was no line at the entrance gate, plenty of parking spaces anywhere we wanted to park, and only a few people milling around. Perfect!

Pre-dawn at Mather Point Grand Canyon National Park

What a view!

We also visited the park in the early morning.

There would be a peace and calm in the air at this magical hour as only a handful of people strolled around. They’d be quietly enjoying the views while sipping their morning coffee, and some would be walking their dogs.

Everyone was very friendly, and for the first time I can remember at any National Park in the last ten years, we heard as much or more American accented English as we did all the other languages of the world. That was very heartwarming. It’s wonderful to see Americans enjoying the National Parks.

We also found the South Rim to be extremely dog friendly.

Dogs greet each other at Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Trail

While their owners checked out the views, the dogs checked out each other!

A pooch rode in a bike basket to Hermits Rest at Grand Canyon National Park

This lucky pup rode in this bicycle handlebar basket all the way to Hermits Rest and back!

Dogs on leash can walk anywhere on the Rim at Grand Canyon National Park South Rim but they can't enter any buildings

Dogs aren’t allowed in the buildings…but Buddy took a peek inside the Hopi House from the doorway.

We came away feeling that this would be a fantastic place for a week-long family vacation. A lot of families pack several National Parks into one trip, but if you stay in the Trailer Village RV Park (full hookups and big-rig friendly) or at Mather Campground (dry camping for RVs under 27-30 feet), both of which are inside the Park and close to the rim, you’ve got a home base right by some of the best views in the world as well as paved bike trails that go all through the woods and take you to the hotel and concession hubs and out to the rim too.

The shuttle buses are frequent so you don’t have to drive anywhere, and if you stay long enough, you can take your time exploring each viewpoint or historical building, come back to camp to rest and regroup, and not wind up with that massive National Park Overload that hits all of us when we try to see too much in too short a time.

Yaki Point at Grand Canyon National Park

The views and the light change all day long — storm clouds are a blessing!

It also dawned on us after we’d watched the arrival of the train one day that the train (which is many cars long) brings thousands of people to the heart of Grand Canyon Village every day, just as the Santa Fe Railroad magnates had originally intended. It arrives in the late morning, and all those people descend on the park in one fell swoop. However, it also leaves every afternoon and whisks them all away.

Each time we went to Grand Canyon at midday, it was quite busy. Not packed, by any stretch of the imagination, but much busier than in the early mornings and late afternoons.

RV Log Book Journal

So, we’d suggest that if you want to have an intimate Grand Canyon experience that is similar to what you find at the North Rim all day long (the North Rim gets only 10% of the traffic that the South Rim does), then do your sightseeing at the South Rim around breakfast time and/or cocktail hour! Or better yet, for sunrise and sunset.

Another trick is to visit some of the lesser known overlooks. Not all of them appear on the map that the National Park Service provides, and that’s what keeps the crowds in check.


One of the lesser known and more remote overlooks is Shoshone Point which is on the eastbound road to Desert View. You can get a detailed map at the entrance station or Visitors Centers if you ask. The best thing about this overlook for anyone with a dog is that there is a one mile long hike along a flat forest road through beautiful ponderosa pine woods to get there. Buddy loved it.

Grand Canyon Shoshone Point has a great hike for dogs

“That was a really great hike. Can I go do it again while you take photos here?”

The Shoshone Point overlook isn’t very big and there aren’t any railings. We did find we needed to scramble over various rocks to get ourselves situated to enjoy the view, however. We watched the sunset with about 8 other people.

Shoshone Point Grand Canyon National Park

Rich Grand Canyon colors just before sunset at Shoshone Point.

Shoshone Point Overlook at Grand Canyon National Park

There’s a cool triangular formation just below Shoshone Point.

Shoshone Point Grand Canyon Naitonal Park

Shoshone Point.

There are some lovely trees, and it’s a great place to get a Grand Canyon portrait of yourself and your family. We did, and so did everyone else!

Tree at Shoshone Point Grand Canyon National Park


Shoshone Point Overlook at Grand Canyon National Park is great for selfies

Happy campers.

Happy Campers at Grand Canyon National Park

Another one!


Grandview Point overlook appears on the map the National Park Service provides, but we found it a frustrating place to visit at sunset. Perhaps at another time of day it would be different. The actual overlook is tiny, and the narrow trail around the edge is off-camber and includes some awkward maneuvers over the rocks.

It started to rain just as we arrived, making the rocks quite slick, and at that very moment two backcountry tours showed up in huge oversized off-road vehicles: Buck Wild Tours and Pink Jeep Tours.

Suddenly, an overlook that could comfortably hold 10 people all together had about 35 people squeezed in, all of them rushing to see and do everything they wanted to before their tour vehicle left for the next stop.

We still enjoyed ourselves there, but finding a place to stand among all those excited and pushy people was a challenge!

The storm clouds and mist more than made up for the various inconveniences, though, and the drama out in the Canyon was a sight to see.

Grand View Point at Grand Canyon National Park

Rain in the distance at Grandview Point.

Photography at Grand View Point in Grand Canyon National Park

Storm clouds and the sinking sun create wonderful light and shadow at Grandview Point.

Grand View Point Grand Canyon National Park

Sun, mist, rain and two rainbows!

Grand Canyon National Park Grand View Point Overlook

At last the sun breaks through just before setting.

Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment


There are free shuttle buses as well as parking areas for most of the overlooks at Grand Canyon’s South Rim. However, Yaki Point is a little different because the ONLY way to get there is either by shuttle bus or by your own two feet. Cars are not allowed on the access road that goes to Yaki Point from the eastbound road to Desert View.

Since dogs aren’t allowed on the shuttle buses, we opted to park at an overlook nearby slightly west of Yaki Point and hike about 1.5 miles through the woods to get to it. Of course, Buddy was all over that!!

The storminess we’d seen the day before at Grandview Point was lingering and we saw some fabulous crepuscular rays as the sun went down.

Point Grand Canyon National Park

Light bursts forth from the heavens.

Yaki Point at Grand Canyon National Park

The setting sun peeks through the clouds.

Point Grand Canyon National Park



It’s not too hard to make an appointment with Nature to see a sunset at Grand Canyon. You’re awake and the only compromise you might have to make is that it occurs right at Beer-Thirty and/or dinnertime.

However, sunrise is a totally different story because it involves getting out of a warm bed, driving somewhere in the cold and dark, and standing at the Rim shivering while you wait for the sun to rise. We kept putting it off, but finally got ourselves motivated at 4:00 in the morning to head out to the Rim Trail at Mather Point.

Wow, did we get lucky that morning! The storm clouds were still lingering, and they put on quite a show.

Sunrise at Mather Point in Grand Canyon National Park


Mather Point sunrise Grand Canyon National Park

This sunrise was worth getting up for!

Mather Point is a popular place for both sunrise and sunset, and there were quite a few other people who’d dragged themselves out from under their warm covers to go shiver on the edge of this massive chasm.

People watch the sunrise at Mather Point in Grand Canyon National Park

Everyone had a camera or cell phone pointed at the incredible display.

There were several little groups of people all along the rim, and when I stepped back, I saw two more familiar figures taking in the show.

People watch and photograph sunrise at Mather Point in Grand Canyon National Park

Mark captures the action while Buddy looks on.

Grand Canyon Fodors Guide

In the end, I estimated at least 100 people had come to Mather Point that morning to witness the sunrise.

The brilliant clouds finally gave up their pre-dawn color, and then we had a few minutes’ wait for the sun to creep above the horizon.

Some stragglers came running to the edge from their hastily parked cars, still zipping up their jackets and messing with their phones, only to realize when they got out to the rim that it was almost over!

Then Poof! — then sun was up!

Starburst at sunrise in Grand Canyon National Park

The sun peeks over the edge.

Everyone at the Rim was enraptured by the whole show and kept their eyes (and cell phones) glued to the spectacle. No one said a thing. it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Well, there was ONE person who wasn’t watching…

People watch the sun crest the horizon in Grand Canyon National Park at sunrise



As you head east out of Grand Canyon National Park, the very last overlook is Desert View. This is a big area with a gift shop and Mary Colter’s famous Desert View Watchtower.

We drove out to Desert View at oh-dark-thirty on our last morning on the way out of the Park so we could catch the sunrise, and there were only three people there with us. It wasn’t nearly as special a sunrise as we’d had at Mather Point, but it was still lovely and still very exciting to be there for it.

Desert View sunrise Grand Canyon National Park

Sunrise at Desert View.

Sunrise at Desert View Grand Canyon National Park

Desert View is a great place to see the Colorado River far below.

Sunrise at Desert View in Grand Canyon National Park

Desert View Sunrise.

Desert View Overlook Grand Canyon National Park sunrise


Desert View Sunrise Grand Canyon National Park

The clouds formed a swirling, inky backdrop to this “window” next to the Desert View Watchtower.

We enjoyed our visit to Grand Canyon’s South Rim this year so much we revised our previous opinion of the North vs. South Rims. When we first visited the North Rim many years ago, we nicknamed it “Grand Canyon’s Better Half” because it was so much more intimate, historic and authentic feeling than what we had seen of the South Rim on short visits at that point. However that’s not really true. Both rims are well worth seeing, and neither one is superior to the other. They’re just different.

The North Rim is 1,000’ higher, more remote and takes a lot longer to get to from any major freeways. It has a fabulous historic lodge, restaurant and campground right on the Rim, and most of the visitors are from the neighboring states. The South Rim is much more commercial, much busier, and plays host to far more international visitors, but we discovered you can avoid the chaos, and even share the experience with your pup if you like, if you plan your visit carefully.

Renogy 200 watt solar panel

Interestingly, the last time we visited the North Rim (2019), we had a hard time finding parking at the central area near the Lodge, whereas this year at the South Rim we had no trouble at all anywhere. The North Rim doesn’t allow dogs on any trails, even the main paved trail, whereas the South Rim is a dog mecca along the entire 5+ mile long paved Rim Trail. Yet we never saw any dog poop and heard only one dog bark, and he was well controlled by his owner.

The views are comparable on both rims, but the distances between the overlooks are much shorter at the South Rim than at the North Rim.

Desert View Overlook Grand Canyon National Park

Now THAT is a spot for a park bench!

In some ways, choosing which one to visit — if you plan to visit only one — may come down to which rim currently has a large active fire burning. Both rims have frequent fires that are deliberately set by the US Forest Service, and they last for months, creating haze across the views, a brown tinge to the sky at the horizon, and the smell of smoke in the air.

The clearest skies are during the winter and early spring when the previous year’s fires are fully extinguished by snowfall and the new fires haven’t started yet.

It’s chilly at that time of year (the South Rim is at 7,000’ elevation and the North Rim is at 8,000’ elevation), but the clear air makes the views even more stunning, and of course you’ll be ahead of the summer crowds.

Grand Canyon National Park sign

Goodbye, Grand Canyon…til next time!

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More info about Grand Canyon National Park:

Grand Canyon National Park – National Park Service (NPS) Official Web Page
RV Parks and Campgrounds In and Near the Park – NPS Official Web Page
Trailer Village RV Park – Big rig friendly with hookups inside the Park near Mather Point
Mather Campground – Smaller RVs and no hookups inside the Park near Grand Canyon Village
Desert View Campground – Smaller RVs and no hookups inside the Park near Desert View
Ten-X Campground – Smaller RVs and no hookups outside the Park 10 miles from Grand Canyon Village
Grand Canyon Camper Village – Big Rig friendly with hookups outside the Park 9 miles from Grand Canyon Village

We heard a rumor from a local resident that a very large RV park is planned and has been approved for the town of Tusayan about 10 miles south of Grand Canyon Village. However, it is just a rumor as of the summer of 2023.

All of our blog posts about the Grand Canyon:

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18 thoughts on “Grand Canyon South Rim RV Tips + Lesser Known Overlooks!

  1. Those of us who prefer a serving of solitude with our National Parks understand how accurate your assessment is, Emily. Go early, go late, visit the least popular attractions at the busiest time of the day, walk a short distance down a trail or wait patiently at an overlook for a few minutes – these efforts generally reward an outdoor enthusiast with a better park experience. When we visited the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota some years back, the late morning scene was chaotic. We went back at 5:00 p.m. and had the place to ourselves. By the way, gorgeous, gorgeous photos! (As usual!) I love the way wind and lighting constantly change the scenes before our eyes. What you capture so wonderfully in a photo at one moment in time will never look exactly the same again. Nature is quite the artist, and many people miss the show. P.S. I just love that Buddy to pieces!

    • I am the same way Mary. I usually avoid sunsets unless I am there to take pics because as someone who loves taking great photos, I worry about getting in someone’s way. Last time I boondocked was in NV a couple months back and I did not see a single person for 2 days. I was in the middle of the state between Austin and Ely, but I went out on the dusty trail about 20 miles or so and I stayed for 4 days but two of the days I did not see a single person. It was heaven. Other times like in Quartzsite I like being around people. A place like Slab City though you want to stay away from a lot of those people, but I still love the desert air in the winter.

      • The desert air is very special, Gary, and it’s wonderful when you can find a place where you have a little piece of heaven all to yourself. We’ve never been anywhere as remote as some of the places we’ve seen in Nevada. On one road trip across the state we wrote about what it was like to drive those very lonely highways (link here). We like to mix it up, though, spending some time by ourselves and then rejoining civilization for a while. That’s one of the many beauties of traveling this way!!!

        • Very nice! Yah I recently went to Vegas (from Sacramento), and I went the way of Hawthorne to Tonopah, so I went about 1/3rd of the way into NV towards UT before heading south. A LOT of lonely roads but I love it. It’s not for everyone though. People think I am crazy because I would rather drive than fly there. I went equipped with my Fibber McGee and Molly recordings of their episodes (from the late 1930s) and Great Gildersleeve from the early 40s to 50s. I am in my early 40s but I love me some old time radio so it made the trip enjoyable.

          My grandfather got me hooked on old time radio. has like every episode of every radio show ever made. Check it out. It’s awesome if you like that kind of nostalgia. It’s all free too and you can pull up episodes instantly. But I am a loner and have always been one so I have no problem being alone. I would make the perfect Astronaut to Mars because I can stand long instances of solitary isolation 🙂

          • Forgot to mention I didn’t drive my truck and 5th wheel down there. I drove my BMW which is a very very fast enjoyable car to drive. So I had a wonderful drive. I left late (about 2pm) from the casino to go back home so the way home I went to Bakersfield and up hwy 5.

          • Thanks for the old radio show tip, Gary. We watch an episode of a 1950s western TV show most nights when we’re not in our RV. They offer wonderful insights into the mindset of the 1950s as well as a glimpse of the 1950s view of the 1880s…!

    • Thank you, Mary! It is so fulfilling when we are able to capture a moment in time and hold it forever with our cameras. We have yet to see the headwaters of the Mississippi, but when we get there, we’ll definitely go at an off hour as you suggest. As you say, those off-hours — and off-seasons — are the best times everywhere! Buddy is a total sweetheart and he gets smarter every day. His vocabulary has increased by leaps and bounds, and he now knows a lot of words we haven’t taught him! We give thanks for him every day.

  2. Thank you for this fantastic post and photos. We have the Grand Canyon on our bucket list. We are Canadians from south Ontario and only travel during the winter months with two dachshunds in our travel trailer.

    • Definitely go to the Grand Canyon when you’re down south, Marlene. We waited for a blizzard to hit a few years ago, and we had a fantastic time and saw a whole different Grand Canyon than tourists usually see (link here). If you go when it’s snowing and don’t take your trailer, there are hotels away from the rim (in Williams, I think) that will let you bring your dogs with you.

    • You’re right, Gary. The forecast for Grand Canyon’s South Rim looks to be mid to high 90s next week with one day at 100. Ouch! That’s hot, and down by the Colorado River will be even hotter. It might be a good time to choose the North Rim instead where it will be mid-80s to low-90s!! That’s one of the big differences between the South and North Rims for summer travelers!! On the other hand, the North Rim is closed for about 6 months every winter!!!

  3. Great post and awesome pictures as usual!! No two are alike. Every day and time of day is special. Love these national parks. Especially when few tourists are around!

    • Thank you, Annie. The beauty is breathtaking. After a while you “get used to it” and, in a way, that’s what made returning there each evening so much fun. After a day away, the views were thrilling once again!

  4. Stunning photography, Mark and Emily. And for those planning a visit, tons of valuable info. Thanks for the opportunity to visit – “vicariously”. Love, Mom

  5. Hi Emily, as usual some great photos of beautiful sights. You and Mark really know how to capture the beauty. The photo labeled, “The sun peeks over the edge” and the one following with Buddy looking the wrong way really show the beauty of the sunrise that is so obvious in the Arizona state flag. Thanks for all this beauty!

    • I hadn’t thought of the way those sunrise starbursts resemble the Arizona flag, Pete. You’re so right!! That’s exactly the spirit of the AZ flag — pure joy and warmth in the rising sun! We finally came away from the Grand Canyon feeling like we had done it justice with our cameras — although we still have a lifetime of learning ahead of us!! Thanks for appreciating our efforts!!


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