Camping at Mathers Campgrounds (Tents only)
Saturday ride to Desert View - 53 miles round trip.
The Desert View Drive (AZ 64; also known as the East Rim Drive) passes through thick pine forest with only occasional glimpses of the canyon. Stopping places include Yaki Point after 1 mile; this is near the South Kaibab trailhead and is a popular place for sunset watching, and the aptly named Grandview Point after 12 miles. Yaki Point has recently been closed to all private vehicles to help reduce overcrowding and now access is by shuttle bus or on foot. The final viewpoint along the drive (Desert View) is one of the best in the whole park - from a high promontory just before the east entrance station, a huge area of the Grand Canyon stretches out below; the main ravine to the north and west, the Little Colorado Gorge in the east - a very steep and narrow side canyon cutting into a flat plateau, and the colorful Painted Desert in the northeast. This one of the few south rim overlooks from which the Colorado itself can be glimpsed; the contrast between the greenery alongside the river and the stark reddish rocks is quite striking. There is another cluster of buildings at Desert View including the last gas station for a while and The Watchtower, a 20 meter high stone tower built in 1932 which is just visible from Cape Royal on the north rim, 9 miles away. Nearby, on the south side of the road, the Tusayan Ruins & Museum has the remains of a 12th century Anasazi settlement containing circular kivas and square houses, though the site is not particularly impressive as the remaining walls are only 1 foot high.
Sunday ride to Hermit’s Rest - 19 miles round trip.
The scenic drive (Hermit Road, formerly the West Rim Drive) continues several miles further but it becomes narrow and has limited parking so entry is closed to private vehicles during the day in peak season and free shuttle buses are provided instead. Another half dozen viewpoints may be visited, including Pima Point & Hopi Point, and all are linked by a rim trail making it possible to walk between selected points before resuming the shuttle, which is rather slow and bumpy, taking about 70 minutes (excluding stops) for the round trip. The road ends at the most westerly viewpoint of Hermits Rest where several trails descend into the canyon including to Dripping Spring.
It gets cool at night so bring
a warm sleeping bag.