A trip to Grand Canyon National Park is always a good idea. This Grand Canyon Adventure Itinerary for an extended weekend is focused on South Rim, which is open all year and is the most accessible part of the park. This itinerary allows you to get a comprehensive experience of the Grand Canyon in 3 days. Upper, middle and lower views that will change your life.
Getting to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
I flew into Phoenix and rented a car the first time I visited the Grand Canyon. You honestly don’t need anything more than a basic vehicle. Our first stop was Trader Joes in Phoenix for all of our hiking snacks. Their small packs of olives and salmon jerky are my favorite.
Airports Near the Grand Canyon
- Phoenix Airport to South Rim: 3.5 hour drive
- Flagstaff Airport to South Rim: 1.5 hour drive
- Las Vegas Airport to South Rim: 4.5 hours
Our first night we stayed in Tusayan at the Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel (10-15 min outside of the south rim national park entrance). This is because we had planned to camp, but I was getting over a cold and the temperature was dipping down into the 20’s at night (November). No. Thank. You. Would have preferred to stay in the National Park, but the lodges were booked up already for those nights.
Day 1: Grand Canyon Adventure Itinerary
My first view of Grand Canyon National Park was Mather point, a short walk away from the visitor’s center. It was very accessible and crowded, but…grand. We ventured to Yavapai Point for sunset where I took WAY too many pictures.
Woke up early to head to Page, Arizona for our half-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. This was a neat experience. It gave us a totally different perspective of the canyon than we had seen the day before. Our guide was excellent and knew a lot about the landmarks, history and geology. It was incredible being in the river and seeing the sides of the canyon tower over you on each side.
We turned around just past horseshoe bend. It was memorable for me and my travel gal pal, because we had visited horseshoe bend at the top the year before together. Each raft held around 8-10 people. I never felt overcrowded. We were able to pull up to shore and look at hieroglyphics. Find the company we went through HERE.
On our scenic ride back, we hit sunset just as we came back into the park. We stopped along different viewpoints as the sun was setting and it was EPIC.
Viewpoints for Sunset in Grand Canyon
points we stopped at were Desert View (rad architecture in the view tower), Lipan point, and Navajo point. It was interesting to see how the angle of the sun changed as well as the view of the river.
Day 3: South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail
This was the intense day. Everything about day 3 was incredible and exhausting.
We strategically parked our car near Maswik lodge where we would be staying for our last night in the Grand Canyon. Then, we hopped on an early (6 am) shuttle to the South Kaibab trailhead. We were ready for our 19-mile hike starting in the dark with our headlamps. Seeing the sun rise over the Grand Canyon is one of my favorite memories. MIND-BLOWING.
Our plan was to hike South Kaibab trail down to the Colorado River (Near phantom ranch), rest, and then hike back up via Bright Angel trail. Many signs and rangers advise against doing this hike in one day.
The elevation change is roughly 5,000 ft. My hiking pal definitely had altitude problems on the way back up and it made the entire hike take around 12 hours. We went in November, so worrying about heat wasn’t an issue.
We FINALLY made it back (at sunset HAH) and went to Maswik cafeteria for dinner. Cheapest meal we’ve had on the trip. We then hobbled back to our room and soaked our feet while we sipped on some wine to celebrate our accomplishment and our last night in the canyon.
Update to Grand Canyon Itinerary!
So, I had the pleasure of going back to the Grand Canyon in 2021 in March. It was definitely a little chilly, but the sun was shining by the afternoon and was super enjoyable for a short hike!
I was there for less than 5 hours with friends that had never been before.
I HIGHLY recommend hiking down to “Ooh Ahh” Point on the South Kaibab Trail if you have a few hours. You can walk the mile or so from the visitor center to get to the trailhead or you can take a shuttle to the trailhead.
Ooh Ahh Point on South Kaibab Trail: 1.7 miles one way, 700 ft elevation gain
This is one of the BEST scenic hikes you can do in your time here if you are physically able to.
Check out Nearby Destinations on my Blog!