Nine miles in length from the Grand Canyon Village in the east to Hermits Rest in the west, the west part of the South Rim is majestic, but the access road is closed to private vehicles from Memorial Day in May through September.
Free park shuttles provide transportation to locations in this area. Among the most popular sites are:
Trailview Overlook 1 & 2
These points look out at the Bright Angel Trail, where visitors traverse down into the canyon riding mules. The overlooks are also ideal to see Kolb Studio and Lookout Studio.
Lookout Studio is housed in a stone building and constructed in 1914 by the Santa Fe Railway as a photography studio to compete with the Kolb brothers. Lookout Studio operates as a gift shop and an observation station for visitors, featuring high-powered telescopes on its outdoor terrace.
Kolb Studio, which clings to the edge of the Grand Canyon, is another intriguing building at grand Canyon Village. Brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb founded the photography studio in 1903 at the Bright Angel trailhead and gained their notoriety as the first men to make a motion picture of the Colorado River amid its entire course through the Grand Canyon.
Today, historic Kolb Studio is open year-round. It features an exhibit venue, bookstore, and information center operated by the Grand Canyon Association, a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from sales at the bookstore are used for the continuing restoration and care of the building. Fully remodeled in 2004 for the Kolb Studio Centennial, the bookstore now contains a tribute to the Kolbs’ photography of mule riders at the Grand Canyon.
At Maricopa Point, visitors are treated to a spectacular view directly to the north. Bright Angel Canyon was carved into the north rim because of the Bright Angel Fault line. The North Kaibab Trail follows the canyon from Phantom Ranch up to the north rim. Bright Angel Creek meanders at the bottom.
Powell Point and Memorial
This memorial recognizes John Wesley Powell, the first man to lead an exploration on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
In 1869, the 35-year-old Powell led a 10-man expedition in four boats covering 1,000 miles of uncharted territory in the Grand Canyon. It was the first known passage down the Colorado River over the full length of the Grand Canyon.
After the adventure, Powell embarked on a lecture tour to raise funds for another expedition, which he conducted in 1871. That trip produced photographs, a detailed map and other documents regarding the geography of the Grand Canyon.
Across from Hopi Point, on the north side, visitors will see the flat-topped butte, Shiva Temple. About one mile long and covering an area of nearly 300 acres, Shiva Temple is of interest to creationists because of Harold Anthony’s expedition in 1937.
Anthony, who worked for the American Museum of Natural History, led the expedition to prove that Shiva Temple had been separated from canyon’s rim for so long that the animals there had developed new evolutionary distinctions.
When all was said and done, he determined there was not enough evidence to support his original viewpoint and that the top of Shiva Temple was not as isolated as he thought.
Below this point on the Colorado River, visitors will see the three largest rapids within the canyon – the Hermit, Granite and Salt Creek rapids. Sometimes, even from as far up as Mohave Point, you can hear the raging water below.
Driving south from Mohave Point, the road turns west. At this point, you will wind around to The Abyss. The view is remarkable. If you look down, you will see a shear cliff that drops 3,000 feet to Tonto Platform.
Glancing down from the west side of Pima Point ontoTonto Platform, you will discover a view of old building foundations. They are the remains of Hermit Camp, which was built in 1911 by the Santa Fe Railroad Company to accommodate tourists who wanted to sleep in the canyon. A strenuous hike down Hermit Trail provided the only access to this camp.
This rustic building was created by architect Mary Jane Colter in 1914 and includes a gift shop, snack bar and restrooms. The Hermits Trailhead is located next to the building.
To learn more about the Grand Canyon, make plans to see the Visitor Center (www.explorethecanyon.com), which is located at the south rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. The visitor center serves as a destination and a resource for the most comprehensive selection of information about Grand Canyon area hotels, tours, attractions, restaurants and sightseeing and outdoor activities.
The Visitor Center features a 500-seat IMAX Theater which shows “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” a 2,500-square-foot outfitter store, exhibits and maps, and national park interpretive services and park passes. The facility also includes a 140-seat restaurant, Expeditions sightseeing tours and the Arizona Office of Tourism.
Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets is a perfect way to begin your Grand Canyon vacation because the film introduces viewers to the natural wonders and riveting history that lies within the canyon. The movie is shown hourly, 365 days a year. Seen by more than 40 million people since its debut 20 years ago, Grand Canyon is the highest-grossing giant-screen film of all time.