A Complete 1 Day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary

A trip to the Arizona Grand Canyon is great to plan if you’re looking for breathtaking views and a dose of the past. The Canyon itself is a history book, showing layer by layer how long ago it has existed. Even the Vishnu Basement Rock layer has been around for 1840-1680 million years. The colorado river had even once filled the many crevices 5-6 millions years ago and at one point, people of the past called this place home. Luckily now, it is safe for us to visit and take a look at the past. If you’re limited on time, here’s my 1 day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary.

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There are many things you can do at the Grand Canyon. They offer things like lodging, camping, raft trips, air tours, and even overnight hiking. If you’re more adventurous and have a few days booked at or near the Canyon, you can add some activities to your Grand Canyon itinerary. In our case, we stayed in Williams Town, drove to the South entrance, and spent 2 days visiting. Although we spent two days completing this itinerary, you can definitely complete it in one. We spent two days because we arrived at noon and left early the first day. However if you start the day after breakfast, you’ll have no problem seeing all points on the Grand Canyon itinerary with ease.

Elevation upon entering the park
Elevation upon entering the Grand Canyon Park.
Grand Canyon itinerary map
Map with our one day Grand Canyon itinerary planned out for us provided by the Visitor Center. The route begins from the Visitor Center and goes West towards Hermit’s Point, then returns and goes East towards the Desert View.

As with many trips I’ve taken: Great Salt Lake or 2 Days in Rome Itinerary, the first place to visit, if available, is the Visitor’s Center. This is the plan they gave us for our Grand Canyon itinerary, and you’re free to follow it as well, but drop by anyways to pick up a hand-held map to help you navigate. It’s nice to have one you can actually hold in your hands that isn’t dependent on your cell phone or tablet. The heat in Arizona can easily overheat electronics, making it hard to use.

Plenty of pinecones
Example of wildlife: Squirrel
Example of wildlife: Pinyon Jays

You’ll also find some wildlife and elements of nature at the entrance. It’s likely you’ll many more as you explore. Many creatures live in the Grand Canyon like: beavers, mule deer, Pinyon jays, Albert’s squirrel, Kaibab squirrels, and many more. There is even a statue modelled after a mountain lion to represent those that are in the area. You most likely will not run into one, but a large range of animals live there because of the extreme changes in elevation, exposure, and climate changes that occurs within the Canyon.

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Before You Start

  • Bring a few filled water bottles with you– not all drinking water utilities are always functional, so fill them up whenever possible
  • Bring a lunch and snacks– although it’s an easy walk around, stay replenished. There also aren’t a lot of food locations throughout the Grand Canyon and it saves time to not have to shuttle far distances just to purchase food
  • Wear appropriate shoes– it’s an easy hike, but it’s a lot of walking, so wear something comfortable, or bring extra shoes to change into
  • Wear sun protection– The heat in Arizona is no joke, remember to protect yourself with hats, sunglasses, and sunblock. Reapply whenever necessary

One Day Grand Canyon Itinerary

A Complete 1 Day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary: Mather Point
Mather Point view 1
Mather Point view 2
Mather Point view 3
Mather Point view 4
Mather Point view 5

1. View Mather Point

Right after the Visitor Center, the Grand Canyon itinerary begins. Close by, there is Mather Point. Because it is so close to the entrance, is it often a first stop for many. You’ll find quite a few people also enjoying the view.

A Complete 1 Day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary: Path to Yavapai
A Complete 1 Day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary: Geology Museum
Yavapai view 1
Yavapai view 2
Yavapai view 3
Yavapai view 4

2. Walk along the South Rim towards Yavapai Point and Geology Museum

Along the way, you’ll find many other angles to view the Grand Canyon from. Once you reach Yavapai Point, you can take a look inside the Geology Museum. It’s a small building with plenty of information about the park and history. The cozy size reminded me of the Frisco Heritage Museum. I learned a lot about the Grand Canyon and was happy I stopped by.

A Complete 1 Day Arizona Grand Canyon Itinerary: Panorama of Maricopa Point
Panorama view of the Grand Canyon
Daniel and I with a Grand Canyon background
Glimpse of Colorado River
Grand Canyon view 1
Clouds on Grand Canyon showing how large it really is
Shadows on the rocks from the clouds show how large the Grand Canyon is
Grand Canyon view 2
Grand Canyon view 3

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Close up on Panorama

3. Shuttle bus to Maricopa Point on Hermit Road

Return to the Visitor Center to take the blue shuttle, then red shuttle bus up to Maricopa Point on Hermit Road. Get off the shuttle and hike to Pima Point. You can take the shuttle bus to each stop, but I would highly recommend the walk because it’s very non-strenuous, peaceful, you can avoid crowds, and there’s no need to wait in line at every stop to get onto a full bus for a few minutes of a ride over and over. The Grand Canyon hike isn’t like trying to get the Best View in Split, Croatia. Not many people walk to each point, so you’ll find it easy to take photos and enjoy the views at your own pace. Daniel and I found a lot of small, secluded areas to rest and have a few snacks while enjoying the view.

Alternatively, you can bus the rest of the way to Hermits rest, but we decided against it because we brought food with us, and enjoyed eating it on the way to Pima Point. Trying to purchase food within reasonable time with everyone else lining up at Hermits Rest also didn’t sound pleasant.

Grand Canyon Itinerary: Desert Tower View
A view of the Desert Tower, shortly after parking.
Colorado River
View of the Colorado River
Colorado River
From the bottom of the tower, you can walk to the viewpoint and get a lower angle of the Canyon
Telescopes available to use

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4. Shuttle back to the Visitor Center, or where you parked and drive to the Desert View

No shuttle busses take you to the Desert View, so it’s mandatory that you drive there. There, you’ll find a tower that you can climb. Every few steps, there’s an area with painted walls. Be warned though, the stairs are very narrow, so be careful and mindful of other’s trying to go the opposite direction.

At the top, you can find telescopes to help you get a better view of the Canyon and Colorado River. Alternatively, you can walk outside to have an angle similar to the other viewpoints you visited.

At this point in the Grand Canyon itinerary, you can choose to end the day or drive back and stop by a few viewpoints along the way like the Lipan or Grandview point. We decided to drive back to Williams Town and explore the area we were staying at.

A fun little comic of my ‘experience’ with cacti that Daniel wanted to document

I have a small obsession with wanting to eat cacti. It may have started from watching plenty of wilderness, primitive, and survival videos on Youtube. I now very much so, would like to eat/drink from one and see what it’s like. Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to try one!

Cacti comic 1
Oh look at all these cacti!!!
Cacti comic 2
I want to TOUCH
Cacti comic 3
OWW my finger ):

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Have you visited the Grand Canyon before? Tell me about your experience!

Looking to visit Arizona soon? These might help with planning your trip:

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