Grand Canyon camper van rental Travel Guide & Itinerary

Complete Guide to the Best Stuff to Do at the Grand Canyon South Rim, Arizona

Here’s a 3-day itinerary for your Grand Canyon National Park camper van rental.

Don't have a van yet? Rent one of ours and take it on this trip!

Overview of Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

The Grand Canyon National Park is a national treasure that everyone should see in their lifetime. It's truly a global wonder that attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to gaze at its beauty and take in its awe-inspiring natural designs, history, and size. It's one of America's most incredible road tripping destinations, and doing it right will ensure you don't miss a thing.

This guide focuses on the South Rim entrance, the most popular entry point to the Grand Canyon. However, you can also visit via the more remote North Rim entrance. For that, we've made a separate guide for it).

Pick up your camper van from, and drive 4.5 hours, heading to Mather Campground on the South Rim of the canyon. This is where you'll spend your first night. It's conveniently located a stone's throw from the Visitor Centre. You'll pay $18 per night, and for an extra fee, you have access to showers and laundry facilities. Ensure that you book in advance because it fills up quickly.

Day One in Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

Today you'll hike national treasures!

When you wake up early in the morning, and after you've scratched your eyes at how magnificent the views are, allocate about 20 minutes to the visitor center. That's where you can pick up helpful information. From there, follow the path to the nearby Mather Point Overlook for your first jaw-dropping vista over the canyon. 

Once you've taken enough pictures and pinched yourself a couple of times, head to one of the many amazing hiking trails near the Mather Campground. If you're an avid walker, you can attempt to do it on foot, and you can go all the way to the North rim and back if you're so inclined (and insanely fit), or if you're not so keen or unable to walk far, there are helpful shuttle buses that take you between 14 different spots on the trail. 

Depending on how much you decide to walk, the experience should take around four hours. When you're back at Mather Point Overlook, visit the Grand Canyon Village, and catch the sunset before heading back to camp for a home meal under the stars. 

Day Two in Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

It's time to see the canyon in the way it was discovered!

Head out early on day two to take in the sunrise from the Mather Point Overlook. It's so close by that it would be a shame not to take advantage. Once you've taken in the fresh air, prepare to ride through the canyon on a mule. Tours are operated via the South Rim by Xanterra and can be experienced on multiple routes. It's advisable that you book early. The cost will depend on the type of mule ride you choose, but a canyon vista ride will cost $156 per person and take around 2 hours to complete. It's awesome, but expect to be sore.

When you’re back at camp, take advantage of the showers at Mather campground for a much needed refresh. Remember that you’ll need to pay extra for access. When you’re ready, jump in your van for a beautiful drive along the East Rim to the Desert View Watchtower. The drive will take you through 40 minutes of breathtaking scenery and outstanding viewpoints. If you'd like to stop along the way, visit Grandview Point and Moran Point for fantastic vistas. 

When you arrive, head into the Desert View Campground, which also costs $18 per night. Be sure to book in advance on 877-444-6777. Spend the remainder of the day visiting Navajo Point, the highest viewpoint in the South Rim and climbing the gorgeous Desert View Watchtower.

Day Three in Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

You've hiked beautiful trails, rode on mules, walked up peaks, and taken in views. Now it's time to make a choice.

For the third and final day of the trip, if you have the time and energy, plan an overnight trip to Havasu Falls. It's one of the most spectacular places in the Southwest USA. It's not easy to get to, however, and doing it in a single day would be a truly hurculean feat, so expect to leave the van and overnight at the backpackers campground.

If you want some rest on your third day, spend your morning wandering the nearby Desert View trails before heading back to camp. Before leaving the site, grab supplies from the Desert View Deli for a picnic lunch at the Kaibab National Forest

Once you've finished exploring, head over to nearby Tuba City, located an hour's drive from Desert View Campground. There you can visit the incredible Explore Navajo Interactive Museum, which delves into the lives and customs of the Navajos. Once you're done, take a step back in time and visit the nearby Moenave Dinosaur tracks to end a wonderful three-day trip in one of the world’s most beautiful places. 

Also in the Area...

Other recommended, google-able tromps:

Whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that requires a coveted permit. If you get one, don't tell me about it. I'll be too jealous.

Where to Next?
(We have travel guides for those places, too!)

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Start by Choosing Your Dates

Pickup is 3pm or later and dropoff is 11am or earlier. Click for info.

Later in checkout, you will be given the option to select an 'early pickup' and 'late dropoff.' 

Each is a 4 hour extension, so...

  • Early pickup lets you pick up at 11am or later. 
  • Late drop off lets you drop off at 3pm or earlier.
  • *Any earlier or later than those times requires an extra night's rental.

Psst, start by selecting your dates and then click 'apply.'