A solitary man stands on a rock formation overlooking sweeping views of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

12 Unique Things To Do At The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a stunning natural wonder with its epic views and bucket-list hiking trails.

But it also has lots of unique things to do that many visitors don’t know about.

It’s a sprawling national park that you could spend days exploring – and you’ll always discover something new with each visit.

I grew up in Arizona and we visited the Grand Canyon numerous times, but it never really gets old.

Dee sits on a cliff at the Grand Canyon in Arizona under a green tree overlooking the sweeping landscape.

Where do you begin to explore this breathtaking natural park? And which hidden gems and unique spots should you add to your itinerary?

Here’s my ultimate guide to the Grand Canyon with insider tips and destinations to plan your perfect visit.

Unique things to do at the Grand Canyon:

1. Walk over the canyon at SkyWalk

The SkyWalk at the Grand Canyon has a circular platform that juts out from a cliff and overlooks the deep canyon below.

Grand Canyon West boasts the stunning Skywalk – a glass walkway suspended over the canyon with majestic views of the Colorado River.

SkyWalk is one of the canyon’s most spectacular attractions. It’s an unforgettable experience – but definitely not for the faint of heart! You’ll get once-in-a-lifetime views of the canyon that will leave you awestruck, if you can conquer your fear of heights.

The horseshoe-shaped cantilever walkway stretches out 70 feet (21 meters) over the canyon. You get incredible views through the glass floor that’s elevated 1,160 feet (350 meters) above the bottom of the canyon.

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss Eagle Point, a rock formation resembling a giant eagle that’s sacred to the native Hualapai tribe. And head to Guano Point for the best panoramic views of the canyon and the mighty Colorado River.

And there are plenty of sporty adventures in this part of the canyon. Grand Canyon West offers rafting along the Colorado River, helicopter tours, ziplines and some delectable dining with spectacular views.

Just two hours from Las Vegas, it’s one of the best things to do beyond the strip.

– by Kenny of Knycx Journeying

2. Hike Rim-to-River in a day

A river runs through a valley in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, surrounded by tall red rock formations.

Challenge yourself and hike the cult classic Rim-to-River route – a bucket list experience for seasoned and adventurous hikers to the Grand Canyon.

The Rim-to-River-to-Rim hike is via both of the South Rim’s most famous trails: South Kaibab and Bright Angel.

Hiking South Kaibab to Bright Angel (via Phantom Ranch on the Colorado River) in one day is an iconic bucket list trail. But it’s no mean feat and should only be attempted by very strong hikers in safe weather conditions (from late autumn to early spring).

Insider’s tip: This classic route can be hiked either way. But the most popular and easiest way is descending via South Kaibab and ascending via Bright Angel.

South Kaibab Trail is steeper and quicker on the downhill section, starting at 7,200 feet (2,190 m) elevation and reaching Phantom Ranch in just 7.3 miles (11.7 km).

Bright Angel Trail is more gradual at 9.8 miles (15.7 km) back to the trailhead on South Rim at 6,840 feet (2,080 m).

If you thought the scenery was impressive from the rim, wait till you see it from inside the canyon. You’ll never forget the sight of those towering layers of limestone and sandstone rocks up close.

– by Kristen of Where are those Morgans 

3. Ride the Hermit Road

A sweeping view of the Grand Canyon shows a deep valley, red rocks and a lighter rock formation and ragged bushes in the foreground.

This 8-mile scenic route includes 9 overlooks with breathtaking canyon and river views. It’s the road less traveled and perfect for jogging, hiking or just admiring the views.

Insider’s tip: Private vehicles are allowed on Hermit Road from December to February, when the Arizona sun is cool yet shining.

The Hermit Trail and other features in this part of the canyon are named after Canadian-born explorer Louis Boucher, who rode a mule named Calamity Jane. Though he wasn’t a true hermit, Boucher carved a trail into the canyon and lived alone for years near a spring.

Drive towards the Trailview Overlook and gaze into the abyss of the canyon and the green hiking trails along the road.

The most incredible lookouts on Hermit Road include The Abyss, a dizzying view that goes 2,600 feet straight down. And don’t miss Hopi Point, which looks farther out into the canyon than any other viewpoint.

4. Get off the beaten path at Cape Royal, North Rim

A man stands on a smooth cliff overlooking the views of the Grand Canyon under a blue sky with moody white clouds.

Cape Royal along the North Rim is not only one of the best Grand Canyon viewpoints but it’s also far less crowded than the South Rim.

Enjoy stunning panoramas of the Colorado River as it crashes through magnificent red rock canyons – without all the crowds.

Insider’s tip: Prepare for a journey because the North Rim is about a 4-hour drive from the South Rim.

The North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October and then it shuts down for the winter weather. So check opening times before your visit.

To access the best views, take the easy 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) out-and-back hike along the Cape Royal Trail. The trail is easy to follow and features a wealth of markers with in-depth info about local natural history.

When you reach the end, step onto the Angles Window natural arch and land bridge. You’ll get some incredible photos of the majestic landscapes.

– by Meg of Fox in the Forest

5. Hike the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

A view of the red formations of Grand Canyon with flat land in the foreground covered in red earth and rugged greenery.

Escape the crowds at the South Rim and head deeper into the Grand Canyon with a challenging miles-long hike to Skeleton Point via the South Kaibab Trail.

This 6-mile (9.6-kilometer) round trip hike drops nearly 2,000 feet (600 meters) into the Grand Canyon to a stunning viewpoint that spans the Colorado River and the surrounding red canyon walls.

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the famous Ooh Aah Point viewpoint along the way – aptly named for the best description of this breathtaking view.

The South Kaibab trail continues for another 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) past Skeleton Point until it reaches the bottom of the Grand Canyon and crosses the Colorado River.

Day hikers should turn back at either Ooh Aah Point or Skeleton Point because the reverse summit makes the trail deceivingly difficult. Extreme heat inside the canyon can easily cause dehydration and exhaustion even for experienced hikers.

– by Sarah of Two Outliers

6. Discover Native culture at Hopi House

The Hopi House at the Grand Canyon is rusty red and rectangular with a single green tree in the foreground.

The Hopi House is a gorgeous historical landmark in the South Rim that showcases indigenous architecture and crafts handmade by Hopi artisans.

It’s built in the style of a traditional Hopi pueblo and modeled after 1,000-year-old pueblo dwellings. Designed by trailblazing architect Mary Colter, the Hopi House first opened to the public in 1905 and it’s been a Grand Canyon landmark ever since.

It contains sparse windows, adobe walls and ceilings made of twigs and grass, faithful to Hopi tradition.

Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the gallery filled with local Native American crafts by Hopi and other local artisans. Exhibits include woven baskets, ceremonial masks, wood carvings and blankets.

Other exhibits including a shrine, or kiva, on the second floor that’s filled with Hopi religious artifacts. Other displays feature original handicrafts in the geometric patters of Hopi tribes.

– by Noel of The Mature Traveler

7. Go rafting

A cave inside the Grand Canyon with a view of the river and tall rock formations in the background.

Follow in the footsteps of legendary explorer John Powell and go rafting through the canyon down the Colorado River.

See the walls of the canyon rise and fall as you’re travelling down the river – and see those colored layers of the canyon right beside you rising up thousands of feet above.

Spend your nights camping on beautiful sandy beaches and your days traversing the wild white-water rapids. Venture into the side canyons, caverns and tunnels that are only accessible from the river.

You’ll discover the Grand Canyon like few people ever will.

There are three options for rafting through the canyon.

  • Motorized rafts are more stable, fast and comfortable. They’re easy enough to get through the entire canyon in a week.
  • White-water rafting on the Grand Canyon is slower. But if you want more of an adventure you’ll feel the rapids more as you paddle like crazy through the wild water.
  • And if you really want to feel like an early explorer, opt for a wooden dory – a small wooden row boat rowed by a guide. You’ll feel every bump and spend the rapids bailing water so the boat doesn’t fill up. It’s loads of fun!

– by James of Parks Collecting

8. Hike (and shuttle) along the Rim Trail

A woman stands on a cliff in the foreground looking out over the Grand Canyon bathed in a cool bluish light.

The Rim Trail runs along the rim of the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona for more than 13 miles (20.9 km) of spectacular views and an easily accessible trail.

It starts at Hermit’s Rest and ends at the South Kaibab Trailhead. But tired legs need not worry. There are 14 shuttle stops all along the route to hop on and off as you please. Hike part of the trail or all of it.

The Rim Trail is one of the most popular routes in the canyon and offers some of the most iconic views. The paved trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

Insider’s tip: Ride the red, blue or orange shuttle bus to your first location to begin the hike. Shuttle stops are located about .3 to 1.8 miles apart. When your legs get weary, just hop on a shuttle to see the next viewpoint or return to the Grand Canyon Village.

The red line takes you along some of the best overlooks with the fewest crowds. It features notable stops like Pima Point for views of the Colorado River and Mohave Point for excellent sunset views.

– by Catherine of Nomadicated 

9. Take a helicopter ride

A boy sits inside a helicopter flying over the Grand Canyon wearing big headphones and looking out the window over the views.

If you only have one day at Grand Canyon National Park, take a helicopter tour for breathtaking views – and one of the best ways to see the canyon.

You can grab a helicopter tour from multiple points including Las Vegas in Nevada and Page and the Grand Canyon Village in Arizona.

Insider’s tip: Tours usually run from 30 minutes to a few hours depending on the route. And the helicopters can seat up to 6 passengers. But be prepared – they do weigh all passengers before boarding.

Tours prices start around $200 per person for short rides. It’s a bit of an investment, but it’s an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

– by Janae of Adventures with TuckNae

10. Take in the views at Toroweap Overlook

A bird's eye view of the Grand Canyon shows tall rock formations with a river cutting across them at the bottom.

Make the journey to Toroweap Overlook for breathtaking views of the canyon alongside a remote stretch of the North Rim.

A trip to Toroweap is an off-road adventure that requires a vehicle with four-wheel drive and high suspension – and skills to navigate challenging roads.

Also known as Tuweep, Toroweap Overlook is some 55 miles (88 km) west of the North Rim headquarters. The nearest towns are Kanab, Utah, and Fredonia, Arizona.

And although it’s only 68 miles from Fredonia, Arizona, it takes more than 3 hours to reach. There is no water, gas, food, lodging or phone service along the route and in Toroweap itself.

Insider’s tip: The overlook is fundamentally different from other Grand Canyon overlooks. You look over a steep canyon in a narrow corridor that’s 915 meters below the canyon rim.

Eight-million-year-old lava flows through the landscape adorned with cone-shaped black cinder cones. The view from the edge leaves you speechless. And the Colorado River is stunning from this vantage.

– by Agnes of The Van Escape

11. Hike the Bright Angel Trail

A woman stands on a cliff alongside a few rustic green trees overlooking the Grand Canyon with the tips of the formations in blue light and underneath more golden and orange shades.

The Bright Angel Trail is a very flexible hike that offers unique views of the Grand Canyon – and it’s one of the most popular trails at the South Rim.

It’s a moderate to strenuous trail but you can make it as long or short as you like. The first viewpoint is only a .75-mile round trip hike. Most day hikers hike to the resthouse at the 1.5-mile mark and make it a 3-mile round trip hike.

Insider’s tip: If you’re interested in a multi-day hike, hike the entire 6 miles to the river. Then you can either hike back up or take a boat out from the river.

The Bright Angel Trail is a great way to see the Grand Canyon at some unique and different viewpoints – and not just from the top of the rim.

– by Francesca of Homeroom Travel 

12. Go on a wellness retreat

A man and a woman sit close together on a cliff overlooking the Grand Canyon bathed in blue light at sunset.

The Grand Canyon has beautiful landscapes ideal for a relaxing wellness retreat.

With its rich history, scenic hiking trails, and peaceful atmosphere, you won’t find a better spot to energize your soul.

Join an array of retreats to grow your spirituality, relax, de-stress, practice yoga and more.

While Arizona has many wellness experiences, the Grand Canyon offers its own unique adventures. You can expect hiking, yoga, meditation, panoramic views and overnight camping against a magnificent backdrop.

Insider’s tip: Book with a company that offers retreats or through a resort with its own guides. Or join some Facebook Groups revolving around the Grand Canyon to check if any private groups are organizing their own retreats.

Stay at a resort near the Grand Canyon to plan your own itinerary. There are some incredible resorts to unwind like the Amara Resort and Spa or the Enchantment Resort, both about a two-hour drive from the Grand Canyon.

– by Emily of Retreat Pundit 

The best day trips from Phoenix

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Looking for inspiration to hit the road and explore Arizona’s natural wonders and quirky gems?

Read 11 Incredible Day Trips From Phoenix (A Local’s Guide!) to plan your perfect weekend getaway.

A local’s guide to Sedona

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Sedona is a red rock wonder that’s a must-visit on your Arizona natural wonders itinerary.

Read 16 Incredible Things To Do In Sedona to plan your perfect getaway.

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