Grand Canyon South Rim RV Trip – Views, Views, VIEWS!!

June 2023 – We decided to start off this year’s RV summer travel season with a bang, so off we went to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park!

Grand Canyon National Park Mather Point Sunset

Grand Canyon South Rim at sunset.

There are many RV camping options at the Grand Canyon South Rim, including RV parks and campgrounds with hookups ranging from none to full and either dirt or paved campsite pads both inside and outside the Park. There’s also a USFS campground with paved loops but no hookups in the Kaibab National Forest ten miles away and dispersed campsites scattered further afield. It all depends on how close you want to be to the Grand Canyon views and how much dust you can tolerate when it gets windy in the forest.

We found a spot to call home for a few days, set up camp, and promptly drove into Grand Canyon National Park, grinning from ear to ear. A beautiful summer had begun!

RV camping in a toy hauler in the US National Forests

Home sweet home.

Renogy 200 watt solar panel

It was late in the afternoon, and we had white line fever from a long day of driving. Even though we have both been to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon many times, we realized we still did’t know it all that well.

The National Park Service has quite a task on its hands to manage the more than three hundred million Grand Canyon visitors each year, and in many ways their Job #1 can be boiled down to one thing: Crowd Control.

People arrive at Grand Canyon’s entrance gates via car, bus, train, bike, horse and even on foot, and once there, they need to figure out what’s where. We were no exception!

Grand Canyon National Park sign

Grand Canyon here we come!

In a smooth move that reminded me of the way the crowds were handled by the East Germans back in the 1980s when I and an array of hitchhiking college age kids ventured through the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, the maps handed out by the National Park Service are, well, minimalist.

When my youthful pals and I arrived in East Berlin, we were given tiny maps that had just four intersecting streets on them and nothing else for the whole city. The authorities wanted us to stay on the streets surrounding a single city block.

And so it is at the Grand Canyon where the NPS maps show certain roads in bright colors and others in faded gray. The colorful roads are the city bus routes that take people from place to place without having to find parking. The other roads can be driven, but the NPS map doesn’t make that clear.

So, we followed the purple road to the orange road, and that led us straight to a mammoth parking lot just steps from the Yavapai Point overlook. Perfect! Those simple directions turned out to be just what we needed at that late hour of the day.

Grand Canyon Fodors Guide

In hindsight it was smart of the National Park Service to guide new visitors away from the hotel, restaurant and boutique store hubs in the interior of the Park where things get congested and, instead, take them right to a satisfying overlook well worthy of their long journey through Arizona to get there.

Looking to the west where the sun was falling fast, the Grand Canyon view was layer upon layer of silhouetted mountain shapes.

Grand Canyon at dusk

Looking west from Yavapai Point.

Layers in the mist at Grand Canyon National Park

Layers of peaks fade into the distance.

Looking to the east, the mysterious forms took on their true shape and color, the peaks highlighted by the vivid orange and yellow sunlight and the valleys steeped in shadow.

Grand Canyon golden hour before sunset Yavapai Point

Looking east in the late afternoon.

The lovely paved Rim Trail goes along much of the South Rim, offering one jaw dropping view after another. Sometimes the views are wide open, and sometimes they are slightly obscured by wonderful gnarly trees.

Grand Canyon tree silhouette


You can choose to look at the view from an official overlook behind very sturdy steel and masonry fencing or you can take a seat anywhere on the ground that looks appealing and soak it all in.

Grand Canyon overlook at Yavapai Point

The formal overlooks have very solid barriers and bench seating so you don’t fall off the edge.

Grand Canyon view at Yavapai Point

However, you can also sit anywhere you’re comfortable and enjoy the astonishing view without a barrier.

We strolled slowly along the Rim Trail, our eyes glued to the view. As the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, the colors of the Canyon became ever richer and deeper.

Grand Canyon at Yavapai Point sunset

Grand Canyon South Rim view.

Grand Canyon late afternoon Mather Point

Crevices and peaks created by erosion.

RV patio mat 9x18
Grand Canyon Yavapai Point


Tree silhouette at Grand Canyon National Park

Another fabulous tree.

Surprisingly, the Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the more dog-friendly National Parks we have seen. Although the Park Service strongly recommends leaving your pooch at home, especially in the heat of the summer when the pavement is searingly hot for bare paws and the temperatures soar, dogs on leashes are allowed on the trails at the rim of the Canyon.

The Rim Trail goes for over 5 miles along the edge of the Canyon, and we were just thrilled there was a place for us to enjoy the Grand Canyon with Buddy as long as we stayed on that trail or elsewhere along the rim. Otherwise, of course, we would have gone somewhere else for the first leg of our RV trip!

Buddy loved walking the Rim Trail and found lots of wonderful smells along the way. Sometimes he plopped down in the shade and insisted we stop for a spell.

Patient puppy on the Rim Trail at Grand Canyon National Park

The Rim Trail.

We stopped to grab a lot of photos too.

Grand Canyon Photography


We strolled the Rim Trail between Yavapai Point and Mather Point. What a wonderful area this was for our first foray into the Grand Canyon on this trip.

Grand Canyon sunset at Yavapai Point


As you can see in the photo above, several forest fires deliberately set by the US Forest Service nearby created a thick brown haze of smoke above the horizon in certain directions, but the views were still out of this world

Grand Canyon Rim Trail


Grand Canyon Guide Book
Grand Canyon views at Yavapai Point

Some of the canyon walls seemed like they were molded in clay.

Mather Point golden hour at Grand Canyon


As full-time RVers we spent a lot of time at Grand Canyon’s North Rim, and we also took our RZR to a few of the overlooks that are outside Grand Canyon National Park on the north side.

We’ve always struggled, though, as everyone does, to try to capture the awe-inspiring beauty and vastness of the Grand Canyon in photos. It is so huge and so barren and so craggy, but too often the immensity and raw power of the place vanish in photographs. It’s hard to convey that wind-blown feeling of standing on the edge looking down 5,000 feet and across to the far side 9 miles away.

The light constantly changes too, especially at the beginnings and ends of each day as the sun plays along the horizon.

I found a beautiful little tree growing alongside a spectacular view and took a photo at the peak of the golden hour when the cliffs were lit up in full glory. Twenty minutes later I rushed back to that spot to catch the same view in the pink glow of sunset. What a startling difference. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better!

Grand Canyon Mather Point golden hour graceful tree

I loved the jaunty look of this little tree.

Grand Canyon Mather Point graceful tree at sunset

All dressed up in pink.

Ken Burns National Parks DVD Set

There were lots of beautiful trees all along the Rim Trail, each one unique, twisting and curving in unusual ways.

Grand Canyon view under a tree at Mather Point

Some trees live on the edge.

Grand Canyon tree on the Rim Trail


The sunlight and shadows played with each other on the distant Canyon peaks as we wandered between Yavapai Point and Mather Point.

Sunset at Mather Point at the Grand Canyon


Grand Canyon view from the Rim Trail


Although you can catch a glimpse of the Grand Canyon with just one step to the edge (and you’ll leave forever changed after taking in that view), we’ve been fortunate on this trip to have been able to return again and again, checking out different overlooks and going back to favorite spots where we see new things on each repeated visit.

Hiking Grand Canyon

The town of Tusayan is just a few miles south of the Grand Canyon South Rim, and we stopped at the Chocolate Factory there one day for a yummy ice cream. The walls were adorned with metal prints of incredibly stunning photos of Grand Canyon, and we studied each one as we savored our treats.

Grand Canyon Chocolate Factory in Tusayan Arizona

When you get your chocolate or ice cream treat here, check out the beautiful photos on the walls!

One of our favorites had been taken somewhere at Mather Point. We were so enamored of the photo, we went back to Mather Point to see if we could find where the photographer had stood.

Grand Canyon Mather Point at sunset

The photo we liked was taken near here.

Sure enough, we found the spot. A huge tree is growing there now, and we had to lean into the branches to get the same shot. But it was worth the extra effort and we were pleased with the outcome, both before the sunset and during.

Grand Canyon Mather Point sunset

This is the spot!

Grand Canyon sunset at Mather Point

And again during the peak of sunset.

Taking the Rim Trail back to the parking lot, we saw the crowd at the Mather Point overlook. Their silhouettes looked really cool against the layered backdrop of the canyon walls and the vivid orange glow of sunset above the Grand Canyon’s North Rim plateau in the distance.

Sunset crowd at Yavapai Point in Grand Canyon National Park 1


Back at camp, Buddy’s inner puppy came out in spades as he frolicked in the grass, chasing lizards and mice around old logs and exploring every nook and cranny of our campsite. He’s really loving this summer’s RV adventure — and so are we!

Puppy peeks at his RV at the campsite

“That was really fun. What’s next?”

RV hose Water Bandit

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More info about the Grand Canyon South Rim:

Honda EU2200i portable gas generator

Blog posts from our previous RV trips in the Grand Canyon area:

Blog posts from the National Parks & Monuments and World Heritage Sites we’ve visited:

Articles from our adventures in Red Rock country:

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20 thoughts on “Grand Canyon South Rim RV Trip – Views, Views, VIEWS!!

  1. When we visit the Grand Canyon, our base camp of choice is the North Rim Campground in the National Park. We prefer the North Rim because it’s easier to find solitude, and like the campground because it overlooks Transept Canyon. That being said, the views from both Rims are spectacular. I do agree that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to capture the power, depth and magnificence of the Grand Canyon in photos, but your pics and Mark’s are absolutely gorgeous and certainly do the Canyon justice. Extra ear and belly rubs to Buddy for me, please!

    • Like you, Mary, we’ve always gravitated to the North Rim for its intimacy, and you just can’t beat the North Rim Campground for a setting. As you know, some of the campsites are right on the rim! But we’ve never camped there because we didn’t know about it when we had a tent and we were too big when we had our fifth wheel. It’s a great campground for medium and smaller RVs, though. To our astonishment, the South Rim has been very quiet this year compared to other years and has had that same intimate feeling as the North Rim. We have really enjoyed our stay and are continuing to take tons of photos. We just witnessed a glorious sunrise — what great fortune after getting up at 4:15!

  2. Your South Rim pictures bring back memories of our trips when we only had a limited amount of time during our working days. Thankfully those days are over and we look forward to spending some time at the North Rim next spring while on our five month Southern RV Journey from Canada. I especially love all of your posts of the Southwest where we have been, or will be going to in our 5th wheel. What a wonderful lifestyle it truly is! Thanks so much for your post today which started off my weekend on the right note!

    • What a wonderful sentiment, Leonard. I’m delighted to know that this post got your weekend off to a great start! Walking the Rim Trail is definitely just a preliminary introduction to the Grand Canyon, and at first glance it “doesn’t do it justice.” However, after 10 days of daily trips to stroll parts of the Rim Trail, we’ve come to realize how beautiful it is and how much it really does offer a very fulfilling Grand Canyon experience. Happy trails on your trip to the North Rim. That’s a whole different world, and you will love it there.

  3. It is a magical place. We boondocked two years ago and especially enjoyed a bike ride to Hermits Rest. Just buses, some hikers and of course other bikers. Great pictures as usual.

    • We would have loved to visit the overlooks on the west side of the South Rim out to Hermits Rest, Dick, but as you know only buses, bikers and hikers are allowed on that road. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on the buses unless they are service dogs. Sigh. However, we did ride our bikes on that road as part of an organized bike ride many years ago before our full-timing adventures, and we remember it fondly. It was much quieter than the eastern side of the Park!

  4. Love, love, love your magnificent pictures of the Grand Canyon South Rim❗️Safe travels , love & hugs to you, Mark & Buddy❣️

    • Thank you, Mary!! We had so much fun taking photos there. We’re still processing the last one which we took last night and then at sunrise this morning. What a glorious place it is!! Much love to you and Rich.

  5. Stunning pictures! I’m glad you and Mark are on another adventure! Live it to the fullest! Give Buddy a treat on us!

    • We are absolutely loving this trip, Jeff, and definitely living life to the fullest. We are so very blessed to be able to live and travel this way in our beautiful country. We gave Buddy a piece of ham for you and he munched it down very happily – thanks!

  6. GREAT PHOTOS! The gnarly trees have a way of enhancing the views. Our first visit there was in March of 2015, two days after a snow storm which thinned the crowds. The air was clear (and cool) and views spectacular with a few of those trees included. We stayed in NP lodging (it was pre-teardrop) and next time we’ll consider the Kaibab NF CG south of Grand Canyon Village – thanks for the tip. Hugs for you and Mark and a pat for Buddy. Stewart

    • Grand Canyon is gorgeous when there’s snow and those trees take on a whole new look when the branches are covered with it! I encourage anyone staying in the warm parts of Arizona during the winter to watch for blizzards up north and head that way with the tow vehicle or toad as soon as one is predicted. We found the lodging was on super sale (like 75% off) because of cancellations and the whole place had a special air of excitement even though only a few overlooks were open. Since you have a teardrop, I would highly recommend staying in the Ten-X campground where you are on pavement. The National Forest is frequently either very dusty or muddy if it has rained. Pavement keeps the whole camping experience clean. The sites at Ten-X are pretty and are well spaced apart. Seniors with the Interagency pass get a 50% discount.

  7. “ON THE ROAD AGAIN”….back in the saddle again ! Stunning photography AND narrative. Promises to be an unforgettable summer, Love, Mom

  8. Beautiful photos! I don’t recall seeing those 3 rocks piled on each other in one of your first photos….they must be new.

    Hahaha! Thank you,

  9. Steve and I took an RV trip out West in 2018 and one of our stops was going to be the Grand Canyon South Rim, since we had seen the North Rim a couple of times. As luck would have it, that didn’t happen because our RV Hydraulics went out on the slides as we were trying to close up the RV and leave Bryce Canyon. Steve was able to manipulate the slides by using a drill while I pushed the buttons on the inside. Not ideal and there was no way to know if that would just stop working so we opted to drive home. We ended up having to stay in hotels along our route home so we could get the RV in the shop. It was very sad that we had to cut our trip short. We never have made it back out there. And now we just moved into a new house we built so I’m not sure when we’ll go on another RV trip that far. Thanks for the beautiful pictures. It’s almost as if we were there!

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you, Janet. How totally frustrating to have to skip the South Rim because of an RV malfunction. Ugh! At least you got to Bryce, though. That must have been a harrowing trip home, too, not knowing if the slides would act up while driving. But you know, never say “never.” Who knows what the next season will bring. We thought our RVing days were over too but then suddenly they weren’t, and we couldn’t be happier. A day may come when you both want to take another long trip out west, and until then, you have wonderful memories of the trip you took in 2018!


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