Nestled in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a geological masterpiece, carved over millions of years by the relentless forces of erosion and uplift. If you’re planning a trip to the Southwest and looking for a Grand Canyon 2-day itinerary, look no further! With countless attractions and activities, including some of the best hiking trails in Arizona and in the country, it can be challenging to plan your visit. But don’t worry, we have you covered.
Whether you’re hiking along its rugged trails, rafting the Colorado River, or simply soaking in its majestic vistas, there’s no shortage of ways to connect with the natural world here. After visited Grand Canyon a couple of times, we carefully put together the best 2-day itinerary in Grand Canyon, and the best way to explore the Grand Canyon in just two days.
We understand that everyone has unique abilities and interests. That’s why we offer a wide range of options to make planning your Grand Canyon itinerary easy and enjoyable.
Our guide to exploring the Grand Canyon takes you on a journey through its most iconic viewpoints, the best ways to experience its wonders, and the best tours. Join us as we uncover the magic of this extraordinary natural wonder, where time stands still, and the beauty of the Earth is laid bare for all to see.
You will love these articles ❤️:
- What To Know Before You Go to Grand Canyon
- Important Tips For Visiting Grand Canyon
- Where to Stay in the Grand Canyon
- How To Get To Grand Canyon
- Our Recommended Grand Canyon Tours
- Grand Canyon Itinerary: Day One
- Grand Canyon 2-Day Itinerary: Day Two
- What To Pack for your Grand Canyon Itinerary
- Grand Canyon Itinerary Conclusion
What To Know Before You Go to Grand Canyon
Before you start planning your Grand Canyon itinerary, you may have a few questions to plan accordingly. If you need more information on visiting the Grand Canyon, keep reading below for all the best tips and essential things to do before visiting:
South Rim vs. North Rim: Which Should I Visit?
If this is your first time visiting the Grand Canyon, you should definitely go to the South Rim. It is easier to get to and accessible year-round. The drive from the South Rim to the North Rim actually takes 4 hours! So visiting both in one trip if you’ve got 2 days in Grand Canyon isn’t really feasible.
The North Rim is also typically only open during the summer and early fall due to the higher elevation and high snow accumulation.
Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park
|South Entrance (Main)|
The primary gateway to the park, this entrance stands as the main portal for visitors heading to the Grand Canyon Village. It is just 5 miles north of Tusayan, it serves as the entryway for travelers arriving from Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Sedona, offering convenient access to the visitor center, accommodations and viewpoints.
|North Entrance||The North Rim is located 30 miles south of Jacob Lake along Highway 67, near the Arizona-Utah border. This entrance opens from May 15th to October 15th, allowing you to explore the North Rim.|
|East Entrance (Desert View)||Desert View entrance station about 30 miles to the west of Cameron, Arizona. It serves as both an alternative entry point to the South Rim and the main access point to the Desert View area. This entrance is open around the clock, seven days a week, ensuring convenient access whenever you decide to explore.|
|West Entrance (Tweep)||Offers remote access to Tweep Overlook, a rugged and less visited part of the Grand Canyon National Park, with expansive canyon views. It is open all year-round, but road conditions may vary.|
Is 2 Days Enough for the Grand Canyon?
Yes, 2 days is enough to visit the Grand Canyon! You’ll have enough time to see a sunrise and sunset, do a bit of hiking below the rim, and visit all of the best viewpoints.
The main reason you’d want to spend a few extra days in the Grand Canyon would be if you wanted to complete a longer hike or visit both the South Rim and the North Rim. If you want to hike the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim or Rim to River, allow 3-4 days especially if you plan to spend a night in the canyon camping or at Phantom Ranch.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon?
Since the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is accessible year-round, you can visit the Grand Canyon whenever. But there definitely are better times of the year to visit.
The most comfortable temperatures will be during the spring and fall months. Summer months can bring soaring temperatures and make hiking extremely dangerous.
June and July are the two busiest months of the year to visit as well. The months of March-May and September-November will provide the best temperatures and fewer crowds.
During the winter months of December- February, the crowds will be the lowest, as well as the temperatures! The rim sees an average temperature of right around freezing, and always be prepared for winter weather.
The South Rim receives an average of 58” of snow yearly. These freezing temperatures can make hiking below the rim slick and dangerous. Be sure to pack accordingly, and don’t forget to invest on some good quality microspikes and read trail reports before heading out. You can click on any of the following item pictures to be taken to their pages and see prices and details.
Important Tips For Visiting Grand Canyon
🎫 Passes & Fees: You must pay an entrance fee to enter the National Park and your vehicle pass will be good for 7 days. You can check the official website for current prices. If you have an America the Beautiful Annual National Parks Pass then you can get in for free!
🐶 Pets: Leashed pets are only allowed on trails above the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. No pets are allowed on trails below the rim.
🚍 Shuttle system: This national park has an excellent shuttle system. There are shuttles year-round, but more routes are available during the higher trafficked months of May- September. These shuttles stop at most trailheads and viewpoints. Check out the latest routes on the National Park website.
🧴Moisturize: Since the rim of the Grand Canyon sits at a relatively high elevation, 7,000 ft above sea level, this can easily dry your skin out. Hydrate as much as you can, and pack lots of moisturizer and chapstick to keep yourself from having an uncomfortable trip. My LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle has been my lifesaver.
🌡️Temperature: The heat rises in the canyon as you walk further down. The temperature at the rim and at the bottom of the canyon is drastically different. There is about a 20-degree difference. So it may be a comfortable 70 on the rim, but the inner canyon could be 90! Note this when you plan your hiking and always start extra early to ensure you’re out of the canyon by the hottest part of the day! Pack lots of water, electrolytes, and salty snacks as well. Dipping your hat into cold water is another great way to keep cool.
🚶Be physically prepared: If you re planning to hike further distances, I recommend following a plan for hiking fitness preparation prior to attempting any long or challenging hike.
🌳Leave no Trace: Last, but not least, don’t forget to be a responsible traveler, it is all about enjoying nature and ensuring you help to preserve the environment.
Where to Stay in the Grand Canyon
🏨 Staying Inside the Park:
When planning a Grand Canyon itinerary, you have a few different lodging options. I recommend to plan your trip in advance, and find accommodations inside the park, along the rim. The hotels located inside the National Park itself can be surprisingly reasonable, even for a budget traveler.
Over our recent visits, we’ve chosen to stay in the park, so it will allow you to catch the magical moments of sunrise and sunset. But keep in mind that the hotels fill up very far in advance, so it is recommended to make reservations 6-months in advance.
Bright Angel Lodge | I’ve stayed in the Bright Angel Lodge twice now for less than $200/night. Waking up and being able to walk 3 minutes to see the sunrise along the rim is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The cheaper rooms are small but comfortable. Check out other lodging options in the park here.
Grand Canyon Glamping Resort | Glamping in a covered wagon allows one to reconnect with nature, yet enjoy resort amenities. Each wagon is equipped with AC/Heating, Shower & Restrooms and king bed.
🏨 Staying Outside the Park:
You can also stay just outside the park in the town of Tusayan, about a 20-minute drive from the rim. There are many hotels and restaurants to choose from.
The Grand Hotel ⭐️ 8.0/10 (4,459 Reviews)| This five-stars hotel offer indoor pool, hot tub, evening entertainment. With very comfortable and spacious rooms, and convenient location.
Holliday Inn Express ⭐️ 8.1/10 (3,735 Reviews) | This midrange, highly-rated hotel is located in Tusayan. It features an outdoor seasonal pool to cool off in the summer and a restaurant onsite.
Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn ⭐️ 8.0/10 (3,532 Reviews) | This 4-star hotel is located in Tusayan and features both an indoor and outdoor seasonal pool. There is also a bowling alley, game room, and multiple on-site restaurants. Breakfast is available for an additional cost.
🏕️ Camping Near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Mather Campground | Open year-round. Laundry and showers are available. For tent camping only, no hookups are available. Centrally located with a free shuttle service to other destinations in the park.
Trailer Village- South Rim Village | Open year-round, this is a full hookup RV campground. The free shuttle system also is provided here and the campground is centrally located.
Desert View | This campground is located around 20 miles East of the central Grand Canyon village so it is a little more private and removed from the action. It is open seasonally, April 15- October 15. No hookups.
How To Get To Grand Canyon
The best way to get to the Grand Canyon if you plan on staying 2 days will be to drive yourself there. Taking the Grand Canyon Railroad or a day tour from Phoenix or Sedona will only give you a few hours. The two most popular airports to fly into when visiting the Grand Canyon are Phoenix and Las Vegas.
To rent a car for a road trip to Grand Canyon get the best deals with this reliable car rental which compares prices across several companies.
|Nearest Airport||Distance||Driving Time to Grand Canyon|
|Grand Canyon National Park Airport||7 miles||15 to 20 minutes|
|Flagstaff Pulliam Airport||80 miles||1.5 to 2 hours|
|Sedona Airport||115 miles||2 to 2.5 hours|
|Page Municipal Airport||125 miles||2.5 to 3 hours|
|Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport||230 miles||3.5 to 4.5 hours|
|Las Vegas McCarran International Airport||280 miles||4.5 to 5.5 hours|
🚘 Day Trip from Sedona:
If you are visiting the Grand Canyon on a day trip from Sedona, this full day tour from Sedona includes stops at the Navajo Nation, catch some scenic overlooks at the Painted Desert, Colorado River and Desert View Drive. This tour includes pick and drop off from your hotel in Sedona.
🚘 Driving from Phoenix:
🚘 Driving from Las Vegas:
The drive is a little over 4 hours Southeast via US-93S and I-40E from Las Vegas. You can create a full loop heading back to Vegas if you drive North up to Page and then go on to Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah. This makes an excellent Arizona-Utah road trip!
And if you have the budget you can also book a 4-hour helicopter tour from Las Vegas, and why not – right?
Our Recommended Grand Canyon Tours
🏆 PRIVATE TOUR | ⭐️ Rating: 5 /5 | 📍Book This Tour
This super highly rated Grand Canyon luxury tour is led by an expert guide who will share the history and geology of the area. During the 8-10 hours tour, you will stroll along the South Rim, with lunch included. On the return journey, you will view the Little Colorado River and the magnificent Painted Desert. Tour includes all park entrance fees.
🏆 GRAND CANYON RAILWAY TOUR | ⭐️ Rating: 4.8 /5 | 📍Book This Tour
This fun and great 8-hour railway tour, where you will enjoy the journey across the Norther Arizona countryside. Hear folklore and stories from the crew and witness authentic characters and musicians who bring the Old West to life on this scenic adventure.
🏆 HELICOPTER TOUR | ⭐️ Rating: 4.7 /5 | 📍Book This Tour
If you have to choose only one tour to do at Grand Canyon, this should be your first option! This 45-minutes helicopter tour is highly rated, with 5 stars out of 1,647 reviews. This exhilarating helicopter flight will take you through the ECO-Star helicopter’s panoramic windows, see the world’s largest ponderosa pines in Kaibab National Forest and the mighty Colorado River.
🏆 GROUP TOUR | ⭐️ Rating: 4.7 /5 | 📍Book This Tour
If you are short in time and want to make the most of your visit to Grand Canyon, this Grand Canyon signature Hummer Tour should be your option. In just 2.5 hours you will hide in a windowless, open-air Hummer and listen to commentary from your guide as you visit some of the canyon’s best lookout points, where you can hop out, take photos, and explore.
Grand Canyon Itinerary: Day One
On the first day, you’ll be arriving at the Grand Canyon. Orient yourself to the rim, the Grand Canyon Village, and the shuttle system if you plan to utilize that during your visit.
If you are driving to Grand Canyon, be aware that the parking lot adjacent to the visitor center tends to fill up rapidly! To secure a spot, aim to arrive by 9 am.
1. Stop at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Make the Visitor Center your first stop in the park. There you can pick up maps, check out current ranger programs, and stop at the cafe for a snack. There is a bicycle rental shop next to the visitor center as well if you’d like to bike along the rim.
💡INSIDER-TIP: If you’re on a tighter budget and staying along the rim in a hotel or camping, stock up on food in Tusayan before entering the park. Dining options are rather expensive and limited in the park even during high season.
2. Walk the Rim Trail
Walking along the Rim Trail is a great way to spend a few hours on your first day of your Grand Canyon itinerary. The full trail is 13 miles point to point and takes you to multiple viewpoints along the rim. It starts at the South Kaibab trailhead and ends at Hermits Rest.
Most of the trail is paved and some of it is wheelchair accessible as well. There are several stops along the trail where you can pick up the shuttle to take you further along the trail or back to where you started if you don’t walk too far. Here you can access a map of the trail.
Enjoying a leisurely walk along the Rim Trail is a great first day activity to soak in the views.
3. Visit the Yavapai Museum of Geology
Located at Yavapai Point, visit this museum to learn about the amazing history of the Grand Canyon. Stop in to see the topographical model of the layers of rock of the canyon to fully appreciate the evolution of this amazing place.
The Grand Canyon is estimated to be 6 million years old, is over 6,000 feet deep, 18 miles long, and about 6 miles wide. Yeah, it’s no wonder it’s called the Grand Canyon! You’ve got to stop in here, or maybe even see if there are any guided ranger talks to learn more about the history.
4. Book a Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
For those seeking more adventure and thrill during their Grand Canyon stay, look into going on a helicopter ride!
These helicopter rides depart from Tusayan, just outside of the park, and last 45 minutes. You get to see aerial views of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, Marble Canyon, and more. This 45-minutes flight over the Grand Canyon is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
5. Catch the sunset at the Desert View Drive
Do the stunning 23-mile Desert View Drive in the afternoon or for sunset and see some of the best viewpoints along the South Rim.
Some of the highlights of Desert View Drive are Grandview Point for panoramic views, Lipan Point for views of the Colorado River rapids, and Desert View for the best views of the Colorado River. Desert View also makes a fantastic sunset spot since you have clear views facing West!
The historic Desert View Watchtower is another point of interest along the drive. If you’d like to go into the tower, tickets are free and first come first serve from 9 am to 5 pm. The Watchtower is a National Historic Landmark and was constructed in 1932. It was modeled after influences of the Ancestral Puebloan people.
6. Enjoy Stargazing in the Grand Canyon
While Yavapai and Hopi offer stunning sunset vistas, and you can also consider the serene seclusion of Shoshone Point. The tranquil hike to this viewpoint offers a peaceful stargazing experience, away from the crowds. Alternatively, explore the other hidden gems along Desert View Road, perfect for stargazing once night blankets the canyon.
You will also have the chance to catch the best stargazing opportunity if you camp inside the park. Or why not, glamping at Grand Canyon on a covered wagon? If you love camping and be comfortable, you can stay at a wagon with a king bed 😉
💡INSIDER-TIP: The best stargazing typically occurs after astronomical twilight, about 1-2 hours after sunset. Also, check the moon phase and stargazing conditions for the night you intend to visit. A darker sky with minimal moonlight is ideal.
Grand Canyon 2-Day Itinerary: Day Two
On the second day of this Grand Canyon itinerary, you will find many options for hiking.
If you’re in a short in time and can only go on one trail, the South Kaibab is definitely the top pick. The views are stunning, and it usually has less people because you need to take a shuttle bus to get there. Though the Bright Angel Trail keeps you deep in the canyon, the South Kaibab gives you breathtaking, panoramic views that you won’t regret experiencing.
If you are not big on hiking, don’t you worry, I have listed plenty of awesome things you can choose to do on your second day of your 2-day Grand Canyon itinerary.
1. Watch the Sunrise
Start your second day of your 2-day Grand Canyon itinerary, by getting up early and watch the sunrise. Especially if this is your only chance! I mean, when else will you be able to see the sunrise at the Grand Canyon?
Mather Point and Hopi Point are both very popular points for sunrise. Here you’ll see people staking their claim early with tripods.
Yavapai Point and Yaki Point are also great spots to watch the sunrise. Yavapai Point offers unobstructed views of the gorge, while Yaki Point has clearest views East where the sun rises.
2. Hike Below the Rim
On your second day here, try to do a hike below the rim to fully appreciate the depth, beauty, and absolute grandeur of the Grand Canyon. You have the option to join a half-day private hiking tour, especially if you are hiking with your family and kids, this private and guided tour is totally customizable, and safe.
I had been to the canyon 3 times before I finally hiked below the rim in May of 2023 when I did a full Rim to River hike. The hike was extremely strenuous, with a night at Phantom Ranch, but it was well worth it. I had a brand new respect and appreciation of the canyon afterward.
There are two main trails that go down into the canyon: Bright Angel and South Kaibab.
After hiking both, I preferred Bright Angel because of all the lush greenery in some parts but both have beautiful views. The South Kaibab trail is a bit more exposed with hardly any shade throughout the trail.
If you plan to hike below the rim, start as early as possible right after sunrise or even before since the canyon gets very hot. As mentioned earlier, the bottom is typically 20 degrees hotter than the rim.
Bring more water than you think you need as well as salty snacks and sun protection. In the summer months, there are typically water refill stations available on both trails. Be sure to find out if they are turned on before you embark on your hike.
Both trails have a lot of sun exposure and remember- what goes down must come up! While it may feel easy to walk a few miles down, walking up will be much harder.
The park warns to not try and hike the rim to the river and back in one day as it is very strenuous and potentially dangerous. Or you can always join a professional guide, and catch the sunset below the rim.
💡INSIDER-TIP: It doesn’t matter if you go on a few hours hiking, or on a multi-day hike. You will be burning energy and you need to replace it, so make sure to have the right energy food before you hit the trail.
3. Hike the Bright Angel Trail
Starting at the Bright Angel trailhead, this trail has multiple destinations that you can mark as your stopping point. The 1.5-mile resthouse, 3-mile resthouse, or even further to Indian Garden all make fantastic day hikes. Indian Garden will be the furthest and hardest.
- 1.5-mile resthouse: 3 miles roundtrip and 1,000 feet elevation loss/gain.
- 3-mile resthouse: 6 miles roundtrip and 2,000 feet elevation loss/gain.
- Indian Garden: 9 miles roundtrip and 3,000 feet of elevation loss/gain.
If you’re able to make it to Indian Garden, you’ll be treated to lovely views of the inner canyon. It is strongly recommended to not go past this point as a day hike in the summer. Learn more about the Bright Angel trail and get a map from the National Park Service.
You can join this private day hike that includes hiking equipment and offering flexibility of customizing the length and the difficulty to suit your preferences.
💡INSIDER-TIP: Descending the Bright Angel Trail is swifter and simpler than the uphill journey. Begin early, pack high-energy snacks and water, and allocate ample time for the return climb. If you’re a novice or hiking in summer, consider turning around at the 1.5 Mile Resthouse or 3 Mile Resthouse for a rewarding experience.
4. Hike the South Kaibab Trail
If you’re looking for a short day hike for the most ‘bang for your buck’, consider hiking the popular route from South Kaibab to Ooh-Aah Point. Yes, it’s really named that!
This point is very picturesque and actually makes a great sunrise spot as well for early risers who want a unique experience. Further down are the destinations of Cedar Ridge and Skeleton Point.
- Ooh-Aah Point: 1.8 miles and 600 feet of elevation loss/gain.
- Cedar Ridge: 3 miles round trip and 1,100 feet of elevation loss/gain.
- Skeleton Point: 6 miles, 2,000 feet of elevation loss/gain.
Learn more about the South Kaibab trail and get a map from the National Park Service.
You can opt to go on a 5-7 hours private guided hiking on the Kaibab Trail, and hike safely in this challenging environment without the risk of getting lost.
5. Go on a Mule Ride
If you’re not crazy about hiking, there are other activities to choose from during your 2 days in the Grand Canyon.
Consider one of the Grand Canyon’s famous mule rides! With only 2 days, you’ll be able to do the 3-hour, 4-mile tour along the East Rim trail. The ride stops multiple times and provides information about the geology, history, as well as human history in the canyon.
Mule Rides can be booked through the Xanterra website. Visit for more pricing and reservation information.
6. Go Raft the Colorado River
If you are not a hiker, but still love an adventure, the best option for your second day of your Grand Canyon itinerary is to go rafting the Colorado River. It ranks high on the bucket list of outdoor enthusiasts!
Embark on a 277-mile adventure with options for everyone, from thrill-seekers to those seeking tranquility. Multiple tour companies can help plan your journey, and experienced guides provide an educational twist while navigating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Book in advance due to high demand.
7. Catch the sunset at the Rim Trail or Desert View
If you don’t have to leave the Grand Canyon too soon on your second day after your thrilling morning activities, visit more points along the Rim trail or Desert View Drive you didn’t see the day prior. And of course, if you can- stay for one more unforgettable sunset!
What To Pack for your Grand Canyon Itinerary
If you are planning your Grand Canyon itinerary, the best clothing will feature lightweight long-sleeve and long pants that are breathable and moisture-wicking. These will help protect you from sun and bugs alike, but also keep you cooler on hot days and dry quickly if you get caught in the rain.
- Backpack: If you are planning to carry a backpack during your hiking, I have compiled a very detailed review of the Best Backpacks for Travel in the market today.
- Portable water bottle: Remember to bring and drink a lot of water and if you need to refill, a LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle is the best option.
- First-aid kit: Always remember to pack a first-aid kit for your hikes.
- Wear sturdy shoes for hiking: The most important thing is to protect your feet and avoid twisting your ankle and getting injured. I recommend investing in a good hiking boots brand such as Teva, Salomon, or even Keens.
- Moisture-wicking clothing: These clothes help to pull the sweat away from your body and stay cool and dry such as light hiking pants & long sleeves shirts.
- Warm Layers: Early morning or late night can get cold so it is important to bring layers, a lightweight puffy jacket is a must!
- Packing for winter: During winter make sure to have a good quality hiking jacket and pack a warm pair of pants for your hike.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses: It is always important to protect yourself against the sun. Bring a hat with a good face cover like this one and don’t forget to pack a pair of polarized sunglasses
- Bring along some food or snacks: It’s a good idea to pack high-energy food for hiking
- Bring your Camera: You will see some incredible views during your hiking, so don’t forget your camera, or check out some great value options here.
Make sure you pack accordingly! You can click on any of the following item pictures to be taken to their pages and see prices and details.
Grand Canyon Itinerary Conclusion
In conclusion, a 2-day itinerary at the Grand Canyon offers visitors an unforgettable experience filled with breathtaking views, thrilling activities, and opportunities for exploration and relaxation.
Whether embarking on a guided tour or venturing out on one’s own, there is no shortage of awe-inspiring sights to discover.
As you immerses yourself in the vastness of the landscape and witnesses the sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon, it’s clear as to why it is one of America’s most treasured destinations!
Here is some further information I think you might enjoy:
- Fitness Preparation Guide for Hiking
- Best Hikes in Arizona
- Best Hikes in Sedona, Arizona
- Best Hikes in the Smoky Mountains
- How to rent an RV for a road trip in the USA
- Funny Quotes for Instagram + Sharable Images
- Trekking Captions to Fuel Your Wanderlust + Sharable Images
Author’s Bio: Kate did travel nursing for two years all over the West Coast taking many road trips in between assignments. She’s lived in California, Colorado, Arizona, & Washington. Now she’s based out of Philadelphia but still travels every chance she gets. When she’s not traveling or working as a nurse she writes for her travel blog, Kate Roams the World
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