Hermit Road Overlooks ~ Grand Canyon National Park
Hermit Road is a seven mile touring route that goes west from Grand Canyon Village to the historic Hermits Rest. This road parallels the South Rim all the way to the end point and many scenic overlooks can be found along the way. Hermit Road is only open for passenger car traffic during the winter season and the gates close by March 1st. During the long summer season, Hermit Road is only open for buses and private vehicles are not allowed. With less traffic, this end of the National Park is less crowded during the peak tourist season, which is like a sigh of relief after surviving the Grand Canyon Village human zoo experience!
The Grand Canyon National Park South Rim is less crowded during the winter season, so parking spots are easier to find and long waiting lines at restaurants are less likely. Part of the reason for reduced visitor volume is due to the holiday season tourism lull, but the primary factor is the weather. Many people mistakenly picture the State Of Arizona as being a vast sun baked desert with triple digit temperatures year round. This may be true for the low desert region in the southern end of the state from spring till fall, but most of the rest of Arizona is over one mile above sea level. The high elevations and arid conditions can combine to yield some very chilly air temperatures and snowy conditions.
Associating snow with Arizona may be difficult to do, but the white stuff does have a way of playing havoc with tourists that plan to visit the Grand Canyon. The South Rim ranges from 6,800 to 7,400 feet above sea level, so the roads in this National Park can be subject to high elevation winter conditions. Often the severe winter blizzards occur suddenly at the Grand Canyon and being stranded in a remote area is a possible. Road closures are practically guaranteed when it snows at the Grand Canyon and for this reason, it pays to keep the weather reports updated when visiting the Grand Canyon during the winter season.
Fortunately because of the arid conditions, it does not snow everyday at the Grand Canyon during the winter season. In fact, more often than not the skies are cobalt blue and the views are crystal clear. The temperatures from mid morning to mid afternoon are usually comfortably cool, however, the weather can change with little warning at this high altitude and gusty winds can make it feel well below zero, so it is always best to dress in layers when winter season hiking.
Winter is the only time that Hermit Road can be toured by passenger car and the weather can be a limiting factor, so Mother Nature keeps the volume of traffic in check. During summer, the Hermit Road gates are closed, so the only options for visiting this end of the park are tour bus, hiking or biking. The Rim Trail is paved most of the way to Hermit Rest, so those who have mobility challenges can actually take on this long trail. The only section that has a steep elevation change is the climb up from Grand Canyon Village to Powell Point and the remaining 6.5 miles to Hermit Rest goes over relatively flat even ground. There are plenty of shade trees along this section of the Rim Trail, so the trek is as easy as walk in a park. If the feet get tired, hopping on the shuttle bus is an option!
The first few scenic overlooks along Hermit Road are featured in this article. From near Powell Point, some clear views of the memorial landmark and Grand Canyon Village can be seen. Hopi Point is the next stop going west west and here the panoramic views of the Grand Canyon are unobstructed from horizon to horizon. The first glimpse of the Colorado River can also be seen in the distance from Hopi Point.
Mojave Point is just a little further down Hermit Drive along the same crescent shaped section of the canyon rim as Hopi Point. This scenic overlook offers a little bit different viewing angle of this vast section of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River is easier to see from here. Both Hopi Point and Mojave Point are the most popular spots to view sunrise and sunset in the Grand Canyon, because the views extend so far into the horizon.
No matter whether the Hermit Road touring experience is a snow draped landscape during a winter season scenic drive or it one of crystal clear views during a hike on a hot sunny summer day, a tour of this section of the Grand Canyon National Park will certainly be rewarding! Hermit Road offers many great scenic overlooks and the views from the rim trail are some of the best in the park. At the end of the line is Hermits Rest, which is the last vestige of civilization before entering the rugged back country. Hermits Rest offers refreshments and a cozy veranda overlooking the Grand Canyon with plenty of shade and this is all the inspiration that is needed for doing the tour!