9 Best Day Hikes in the Grand Canyon

Views from the South Rim

The Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona and is home to some of the most beautiful hikes and views in the state.

If you’re planning a visit and are on the hunt of some of the best day hikes in the Grand Canyon, then you’re in luck!

There are so many hikes that you can embark on to see the epic views, without having to spend multiple days down in the canyon. In this post, we’ll cover 9 of the best options.

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Best Day Hikes in Grand Canyon National Park

1. Ooh Aah Point

One of the best day hikes in the Grand Canyon takes you to Ooh Aah Point.
Ooh Aah Point is one of the most popular and best day hikes in the Grand Canyon.

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: South Rim

To reach the extremely popular Ooh Aah Point, you’ll follow the South Kaibab Trail from the South Kaibab Trailhead.

After quite a few switchbacks to get down into the canyon, the trail finally straightens out as you continue to make your way to the viewpoint.

This part of the trail tends to get pretty busy, as it’s an easy trail for some epic views. If you’re looking for a bit more quiet, continue past the viewpoint further along the South Kaibab Trail.

Eventually, you’ll reach a viewpoint with epic views of the Grand Canyon. There’s no wondering why this has been given the name “Ooh Aah Point,” because that’s exactly what you’ll be saying once you see the views.

2. Bright Angel Trail

The Colorado River as seen from a Grand Canyon day hike
If you make it to the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail, you’re rewarded with this epic view of the canyon walls.

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 15.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Location: South Rim

Although this trail is quite a bit longer and may be pushing it as a day hike for some, it’s really quite beautiful and gives a nice view into what backpacking in the Grand Canyon looks like.

Starting near Grand Canyon Village, this trail leads you down the Bright Angel Trail and down multiple switchbacks as you make your way deep into the canyon.

This is one of the most popular trails, and for good reason, as you’ll get to fully experience what it’s like to be immersed in the canyon.

Much of the trail follows Garden Creek before joining with the Colorado River, where the Bright Angel Trail comes to an end.

Along the trail, you’ll find a few restrooms and places to refill your water bottles, which is pretty uncommon along other hikes. Only Havasupai Gardens Campground has water between November and April. There isn’t much shade along the entire trail though, so be sure that you’re dressing appropriately for the hot weather and have enough water.

Many people choose to start on this trail and turn around at certain points, such as the resthouses that are found at the 1.5 and 3-mile marks.

3. Cape Royal Trail

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: North Rim

Found at the end of the long and winding Cape Royal Drive, this short and easy trail offers epic canyon views for little effort. If you have little ones or are just looking for a shorter hike, then this paved trail will be perfect for you.

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Embark on the 1-mile round trip trail and take the spur trail out to Angel’s Window, a large arch in the rock, before continuing on to Cape Royal.

Cape Royal is a peninsula that juts out into the Grand Canyon in the North Rim. It’s a paved trail, so getting out to the viewpoint is fairly accessible for most people.

Some especially enjoy visiting Cape Royal for sunset, as the view is astonishing and the colors that fill the sky seem to seep into the canyon.

4. Shoshone Point Trail

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 2.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: South Rim

If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds during your Grand Canyon day hike, then head to Shoshone Point, because there are much fewer visitors here than on other trails.

Begin the hike through a ponderosa forest before emerging near a small picnic area with views that are much better than what’s found at your average picnic table.

This also feels different than most other hikes, because you’ll actually get to see some trees, whereas most other hikes bring you directly to the canyon.

You can enjoy some much-needed and rare shade underneath the trees on this trail!

There’s also a large rock standing up here that you won’t be able to miss. Plan to pack up a nice trail lunch to enjoy and take in the views at the picnic area.

5. Cedar Ridge

A mule train at Cedar Ridge Viewpoint
You can see mules at Cedar Ridge while day hiking in the Grand Canyon.

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: South Rim

Also starting on the South Kaibab Trail, this hike goes past Ooh Aah Point and makes its way down to Cedar Ridge.

This one is basically a two-for-one because you’re going to be able to make a stop at Ooh Aah Point and enjoy the views here, and then continue to see even more views.

Some of the crowds tend to drop off around the 1-mile mark as many people don’t continue on to Cedar Ridge, so this is a nice way to lose some of the people.

After a few more switchbacks and from the ridgeline that you’ll follow, you’ll reach the second panoramic viewpoint along the South Kaibab Trail, Cedar Ridge.

You’ll notice a mule-hitching post here, and you might get lucky enough to see some people using mules to get into the canyon.

6. Mather Campground Trail

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Location: South Rim

This trail doesn’t really give too many canyon views but is a nice way to get out on the trail if you’re looking for something easy.

Many people enjoy biking on the trail since it is paved. It’s also one of the very few trails in Grand Canyon National Park where dogs are allowed.

The trail loops around Mather Campground and depending on the season, you may even see some elk wandering around the grass.

Mather Campground is also a great base while you visit the Grand Canyon. Book a site well in advance here, and prepare for frigid nights in shoulder season.

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7. Bright Angel to 1.5 Mile Resthouse

Hiking in the Grand Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail
The top 1.5 miles of the Bright Angel Trail offer sweeping views into the canyon.

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Location: South Rim

As I mentioned earlier, the Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Grand Canyon National Park. But many people don’t want to do the entire thing, since it is over 15 miles long.

Because of this, many people decide to use turnaround points to still experience the trail but not go on such a strenuous trip.

The two most popular turnaround points are the resthouses located at the 1.5-mile and the 3-mile marks.

As one of the best day hikes in the Grand Canyon, this trail offers up some of the best views and opportunities to see wildlife such as bighorn sheep.

8. Skeleton Point

Switchbacks on the South Kaibab Trail
Holy switchback! If you go all the way down to Skeleton Point, you have to climb back up this cliff.

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 5.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Location: South Rim

Also as a section of the South Kaibab Trail, this nearly 6-mile hike to Skeleton Point offers hikers a great choice for a day hike.

This trail leads you past both Ooh Aah Point and Cedar Ridge, which are the first two viewpoints along this long trail.

The entire trail is filled with beautiful views, and once you reach Skeleton Point, you’ll get another fantastic view into the canyon. You’ll also have a nice view of the Colorado River, before turning around and heading back to the trailhead.

If you continue going into the canyon, the South Kaibab Trail continues for miles until it turns into the North Kaibab Trail.

9. Dripping Springs

Quick facts:

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Location: South Rim

Starting at Hermit’s Rest, at the far end of West Rim Drive in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll find the trail to Dripping Springs.

You’ll take the Hermit Trail up and down many switchbacks, as you hike down into the canyon.

You’ll follow Hermit Creek for part of the hike, before reaching a nice alcove in the canyon. This is a unique area of the canyon, so it’s definitely worth the visit.

Along the way, you’ll not only see the views of the alcove but also of the entire canyon.

Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon

Phantom Ranch in Grand Canyon National Park
If you visit in November, you may see some golden aspens at the bottom of the canyon.

The Grand Canyon is a beautiful national park to visit and the views are phenomenal any time of year. But there’s definitely a better time to visit than others.

The best time to year to visit is the shoulder season, which is the spring and fall months. These times of year have cooler temperatures and you’ll see fewer crowds. Expect frigid temperatures at night – single digits on the rim are common in November and March. The North Rim closes for the winter — check whether it’s open and whether there are any facilities open before you head out.

Summer is also a nice time to visit, but the temperatures can be extremely hot and it can make hiking uncomfortable or dangerous. Every year, hikers die of heat stroke in the Grand Canyon — under no circumstances should you hike below the rim without at least a liter of water per mile. Plus the crowds can be pretty wild.

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How Long Do You Need in the Grand Canyon?

The North Kaibab Trail switchbacking up from Bright Angel Creek
If you want to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you need at least 3 days — it’s a 4-hour-each-way drive from the South Rim.

The Grand Canyon is a very large national park, and it can take a lot of time to really feel as if you’ve covered the entire park.

An ideal itinerary is at least three days, as this allows you to do some hiking, see many of the viewpoints, and perhaps participate in another activity such as white water rafting.

Visiting some of the canyons in the Southwest can take some time, so don’t try to cram too much into one trip. You can combine your visit to the Grand Canyon with Zion National Park and other parks in Utah if you have a week or longer.

If you have more than 3 days, that’s preferred, since you may want to visit both the South and North Rims, which are a four-hour drive apart from each other.

FAQs about the best day hikes in the Grand Canyon

Hiking to the Colorado River on the Bright Angel Trail
Just remember: Going down is optional. Going up is mandatory.

Is One Day in Grand Canyon Enough?

While spending one day in the Grand Canyon will suffice for doing a short hike and visiting some of the viewpoints, you won’t get to accomplish a lot.

The park is very large and it’s best to allocate at least 2 to 3 days to see the entire thing.

What is the Easiest Trail to Hike in the Grand Canyon?

One of the easiest trails in the Grand Canyon that still offers epic views is the Cape Royal Trail. This is a 1 mile trail with just about 100 feet of elevation change, that offers some pretty amazing views. It’s rated as easy and is paved, so it’s very family friendly.

What is the Best Hike in the Grand Canyon?

Two of the best and most well-known hikes in Grand Canyon National Park are the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail.

They’re both long trails, but each has a few turn around points that people enjoy hiking to that make the trails shorter.

Just remember: Going down is optional, going up is mandatory.

Conclusion: Day Hikes in the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country, and offers fantastic views of the largest canyon in the USA.

There are so many great day hikes in the Grand Canyon that allow hikers to see the canyon up close.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just a beginner, there’s a trail at this Arizona national park for you.

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Looking for great day hikes in the Grand Canyon? These hiking trails range from easy and family friendly to extremely difficult. Explore Arizona's most famous national park with this hiker guide! #nationalparks #hiking

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About the author: Avid hiker. Weekend Adventurer. Trail explorer. Kassidy shows beginner hikers that you can get outdoors and explore the trails just like everyone else. She runs The Hiking Helper, a site dedicated to making hiking easier for everyone.

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