One of the bucket list items for many is watching the spectacular Grand Canyon sunrise in Arizona, and it is no surprise, given the incredible display of magnificent colours of dawn dominating the rugged landscapes, which transforms the panoramas to even more magical post-card perfect views, creating the best way to begin your trip.
So, where to watch the best sunrise in Grand Canyon National Park? Since the gorgeous park, a natural wonder of the world, draws millions of tourists each year, it can be overwhelming to choose a spot for enjoying dazzling sunrise.
In this guide, we cover the best Grand Canyon sunrise spots, how to get there, valuable tips, and everything else you need to know to admire and soak in some of the fascinating views of the sunrise over the many famous landmarks in this national park.
WHAT IS BETTER? SUNSET OR SUNRISE?
To be honest, both sunset and sunrise in Grand Canyon are spectacular, and if it is possible, make sure to watch both spectacles.
However, the significant advantage of Grand Canyon sunrise is that you will be one of the few people at the viewpoints, so if you want to avoid the crowds, sunrise it is.
Admiring the beautiful sunrise in the Grand Canyon also means the skies are better and more transparent, and you can also enjoy driving around the national park.
If you are not an early riser, watching a sunset in the Grand Canyon is better for you. Grand Canyon sunsets are also more colourful, and you have better options to capture the vivid colours if you can patiently wait for your turn amidst the crowds.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO WATCH GRAND CANYON SUNRISE?
Grand Canyon National Park is magnificent throughout the year, sweeping you with its spectacular landscapes. For the best sunrise views in Grand Canyon, head there during the spring and fall months.
Because the weather is pleasant, with tolerable temperatures ideal for hiking and driving. Also, during these months, the sun sets directly in line with the canyon, forming a stunning special effect.
Alternatively, winter is also a great time to see the sunrise in the Grand Canyon National Park, especially at the North Rim.
HOW TO GET AROUND GRAND CANYON SUNRISE SPOTS?
The easiest way to travel around the national park to reach the sunset and sunrise spots in the Grand Canyon is on the free shuttle buses that frequently run throughout the day, beginning about one hour before sunrise and ending about one hour after sunset, approximately every 30 minutes.
Apart from quickly getting around, these shuttle buses save you from the hassle of finding parking spots in the busy summer months.
But note that since there are plenty of visitors, the buses get filled up quickly, especially if you arrive to watch the sunrise in Grand Canyon, as it is the best way to reach the trailheads right on time before sunrise and come back conveniently.
Take the orange route or the Kaibab Rim shuttle from the visitor c to access Yaki Point, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, and Pipe Creek Vista.
If you are here between March and November, take the red line or the Hermit Road shuttle accessible between March 1 and November 30 to reach Pima, Powell, Mohave, Maricopa, and Hopi Points, all of which are not reachable by private vehicles if the roads are blocked by snow.
Note that there is no shuttle service offered along Desert View Drive, home to Grandview, Lipan, Navajo, and Desert View Points.
BEST SPOTS TO WATCH EPIC GRAND CANYON SUNRISE
One of the famous Grand Canyon sunrise spots is Yaki Point, which is also another fantastic sunset viewpoint. Yaki Point is known for spectacular canyon views and is one of the less-crowded places despite being a beautiful spot.
Watch the glorious colours of dawn decorating the vast expanse of the canyons on the horizon at sunrise here. You can also see the famous South Kaibab trail below. Since it is the easternmost spot, you will watch the sunrise earlier here than in the other viewpoints
You can only access this viewpoint to watch vibrant Gran Canyon sunrise views via the free orange shuttle(Kaibab/Rim Route) from the visitor centre.
You can also hike the nearby Kaibab trail if you wish to hike, located below Yaki Point, offering beautiful Grand Canyon sunrise views.
Among the most crowded Grand Canyon sunrise spots is Yavapai Point, located 0.7 miles West of Mather Point, which has a fenced platform from where you can enjoy the best sunrise in the Grand Canyon. Due to its popularity, the place gets filled quickly, and you need to be here at least an hour before sunrise to capture the best views possible.
You can enjoy the unobstructed views of the rising sun as there are no canyon walls, kissing the majestic landscapes with its tender dawn colours magically transforming the canyon landscapes from the gorge in the south Rim.
After admiring the sunrise views, take a quick stop at the nearby Yavapai Museum of Geology, which gives you glimpses of the history and the geology of the park. There is also the Yavapai Observation Station to check out more views here.
Although it is one of the famous sunset spots in Grand Canyon National Park, Hopi Point also offers the perfect view of sunrise behind the rugged edges of the canyon.
Located by the scenic Hermit Road, you can reach Hopi Point through the park’s free shuttle service. Take the red line or the Hermit Road shuttle accessible between March 1 and November 30 to get to Hopi Point.
Alternatively, you can hike the Rim trail, a 2.5-mile route that takes you through stunning views of the surrounding panoramas before arriving at Hopi Point.
The most famous among the Grand Canyon sunrise spots is Mather Point, one of the top places to visit to watch a beautiful sunset in the Grand Canyon, thanks to its perfect location at the South Rim overlooking many gorgeous viewpoints on a peninsula into the Canyon, offering the views of almost the entire Canyon.
Expect crowds at Mather Point no matter when you visit. Located close to Grand Canyon village, you can easily access this spot by walking for about 5 minutes from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, which begins above the rim and ends in front of the Bright Angel Lodge.
Soak in the blissful Mather Point Grand Canyon sunrise views from the one-mile drop, casting their glow over the Canyon, the beautiful views of the Colorado River, Phantom Ranch from here.
One of the best Grand Canyon sunrise spots to visit if you want to enjoy glowing sunrise across Colorado is Lipan Point.
Lipan Point offers spectacular views of the Colorado River, and from here, you can see the furthest views of the flowing river alongside the Canyon. This section attracts many migrating wild birds, a welcome addition to the magical sunrise views, especially the many eagles, falcons and hawks.
Soak in the blissful views from here as the rising sun paints the nearby rock formations, along with beautiful reflections coming up sometime after sunrise.
Located along Hermit Road Drive, Pima Point is one of the best places to enjoy beautiful views of the sunrise in the Grand Canyon as well as the perfect sunset views without the crowds of Hopi Point, including gorgeous views of the Colorado River up close. It is one of the popular trails for bikers and hikers
BEST GRAND CANYON SUNRISE SPOTS ALONG DESERT VIEW DRIVE
Desert View Drive is a 22-mile route that takes you through the heart of the national park featuring spectacular views at many viewpoints, hiking trails, and stopovers beside the Colorado River.
As the name suggests, you can only access this route by private vehicles, and there is no shuttle service.
To get on Desert View Drive, go east of the Visitor centre, parallel to the river. Below are some stops worth making for splendid Grand Canyon sunrise views.
DESERT VIEW WATCH TOWER
If you’re entering Grand Canyon National Park from the east entrance, Desert View Watchtower is the first stop you can make on Desert View Drive. It is the last stop if you start from Grand Canyon village.
There is a parking lot available, and it is a short walk to the fenced observation deck, from where you can admire beautiful views of the Canyon and the flowing Colorado River.
This is the second stop east of the beginning of Desert View Drive, offering unique and beautiful, far-reaching views along a wide section of the Grand Canyon and recommended for enjoying a quiet sunrise in the Grand Canyon.
If you are up for a moderately challenging hike to witness some of the most spectacular Grand Canyon sunrise views, head to Grandview Point, one of the highest Grand Canyon South Rim lookouts featuring expansive views of the canyons and many important landmark attractions.
It is one of the offbeat trails involving a steep descent, which is more of a vertical drop on an unmaintained trail, so it is best only for experienced and fit hikers.
Although it’s most famous for sunset, Navajo Point also offers some fantastic views of the Grand Canyon sunrise, including the panoramic views of the Colorado River and its white rapids.
BEST GRAND CANYON SUNRISE SPOTS – NORTH RIM
The Grand Canyon North Rim is the northernmost of three major sections of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, located within Kaibab Plateau and Coconino County.
You can access the North Rim from Route 89A through Flagstaff. The nearest city is Williams, about 25 miles away from the North Rim.
Recommended – A Complete Guide To Visiting Grand Canyon In Winter
North Rim is only open to visitors from May 15 to November 30 every year, and you need to pay an entry fee. Also, there is no shuttle service or public transport, and you need a car to get around. Below are the two spots to watch
BRIGHT ANGEL POINT
One of the unique Grand Canyon sunrise spots is Bright Angel Point, conveniently accessed by a short 0.4-mile walk on a paved trail beginning from the visitor centre, which has some steep sections that need to be taken care of.
The viewpoint offers fantastic views of the sunrise over the gorge surrounded by high canyon walls on both sides.
Among the most popular spots for watching the Grand Canyon sunrise from the North Rim is Cape Royal, known for its magnificent rock formations.
Enjoy the blissful views of the sunrise across the bend in the Colorado River best framed by an Angels Window on this moderate hike. On clear days, you can watch the beautiful view as far as the Desert View Tower on the South Rim.
USEFUL TIPS TO WATCH SUNRISE IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
- Check the weather – Although not frequent, storms are expected at Grand Canyon National Park during late summer, between July to September, usually in the late afternoon. So check the weather before you leave.
- Stay safe – The roads become more fragile, slippery and dangerous. It is best not to get exposed during lighting and thunder, especially at the edge of rocky mountains. If storms occur, head to the nearest designated shelter points immediately. Avoid standing under tall or stand-alone trees.
- Do not go off the trail while hiking to the Grand Canyon sunrise spots. While the splendid trails may entice you, stay within the trail within the fences.
- Check the timings – Look for Grand Canyon sunrise time before planning your sunrise hike, as the time varies depending on the season you visit the national park. Note that the sunset and sunrise times in Arizona are in Mountain Standard Time. Daylight savings time is not observed here.
- Start early – It is best to take the commute time if using the shuttle or driving to the sunrise spots in Grand Canyon. If you don’t stay in the campground or a nearby hotel, you may need around 30 minutes or an hour to reach the points or trails.
- Calculate time for hiking – Depending on your fitness levels and speed, and you may take more time than the average estimates provided if you are going to hike. It is best to know how long you may need, allowing you to time your sunrise hike in Grand Canyon correctly.
- Parking options – If you are late, one of the best ways to make the most of your time is to park at the main visitor centre parking lot, from where it is easy to access some of the sunrise spots in the Grand Canyon.
- Carry essentials – Wear layers for your trip as the weather frequently changes. Great hiking shoes with a good grip, headlamps, jackets, water, and snacks are a must, irrespective of the hike.
- Watch out for snakes and other wildlife – Although the Rattlesnake season runs from May through October, you may run into snakes at any time of year.
- Stay hydrated – Although temperatures can be low if you’re heading out before sunrise, once the sun is up, it quickly gets hot no matter which time of the year. Drink sufficient water to stay hydrated.
- Protecting from the sun – Going back, you will likely be exposed to the heat, as most trails have minimal or no shaded areas. Carry sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
- Points to fill water – You can fill your water bottles at Grand Canyon Visitor Center, Hermit’s Rest, Bright Angel Trailhead, Verkamp’s Visitor Center, Yavapai Point, and the South Kaibab Trailhead.
- Restrooms – Well-maintained restrooms are located at Yavapai and Desert View Points and the Visitor Center. Mobile toilets(Portapoty) are available at Hopi, Yaki, and Grandview Points.
MAP OF THE GRAND CANYON SUNRISE SPOTS
OTHER RECOMMENDED POSTS FOR YOU
- 10 SPOTS TO WATCH EPIC SUNRISE IN SEDONA
- 14 PLACES TO ADMIRE THE STUNNING TUCSON SUNSET ACROSS SAGUARO CACTI
- 14 BEST PLACES TO WATCH BEAUTIFUL SCOTTSDALE SUNSET
- 10 PLACES TO WATCH GORGEOUS SUNRISE IN SCOTTSDALE
- 10 TOP PLACES TO WATCH THE STUNNING SEDONA SUNSET
- 15 BEST PLACES TO WATCH PHOENIX SUNSETS
- 10 TOP PHOENIX SUNRISE HIKES YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
- 10 BEST TUCSON SUNRISE SPOTS FOR THE BEST MORNINGS
- 15 Grand Canyon Sunset Spots To Enjoy the Stunning Spectacle - January 18, 2023
- 12 Best Grand Canyon Sunrise Spots For Spectacular Views - January 18, 2023
- 8 Tucson Sunrise Spots To Start Your Day Beautifully - December 26, 2022