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This first lookout along the West Rim Drive provides sightseers with a view of Bright Angel Trail, one of the most popular trails descending into the canyon. From this vantage point one can glimpse the famous mule trains, or watch adventurous hikers making their trek to and from the canyon floor. To the south, the San Francisco Peaks loom in the distance, some 60 miles away.
If you are an experienced hiker with iron will and a thirst for scenic splendor, North Kaibab Trail may be your best bet on the Grand Canyon's challenging North Rim. The trailhead begins at the lower end of the parking lot, two miles north of Grand Canyon Lodge. The first leg of the journey descends through shaded forest to a picnic ground near Roaring Springs Canyon. This round trip trek is 9.5 miles (15.2 kilometers). Experienced hikers may continue past Roaring Springs along Bright Angel Creek all the way to the Colorado River.
The Yavapai Point at Grand Canyon National Park offers unobstructed views of the gorge as it is the north-most and the closest to the Colorado River. The nearby Yavapai Observation Station and Yavapai Geology Museum sell books and display information about the history of the Grand Canyon. You could also buy souvenirs here to take back home. To the north, you will be able to see the river while to the west you can see the Plateau Point followed by the Bright Angel Trail. In the distance, you can see the peaks and points right up to the Desert View and Palisades of the Desert.
Located at Yavapai Point, the observation station houses a museum. It is encased in glass, affording a great view of the suspension bridge crossing the Colorado River. Geological exhibits showing the creation of the Grand Canyon are on display; books, maps, postcards and videos are on sale by the Grand Canyon Association. During the day, the Park Rangers meet at this location for their informative talks and walking tours.
Geologists concur that it took nearly 60-million years for the Grand Canyon to come into existence as we see it today. However, the oldest rocks into which the mighty Colorado River has cut into are approximately 1.4-billion to 1.8-billion years old. Visitors can take the Trail of Time beginning at the Yavapai Geological Museum and witness the timeline of rocks, from the youngest Kaibab Limestone upon which you walk at 260-million years old to the oldest Vishnu Schist as the basement rock. Along the entire route to Verkamp's Visitors Center, the trail provides spectacular views and plenty of education. It's a definite must-see attraction while you are in the Grand Canyon Village.
Adventurous visitors to the Grand Canyon who want to hike down into the spectacular geological wonder head down the Bright Angel Trail. This trek is not a spur of the moment endeavor, but a trip the hiker should carefully plan out. Descending 4,000 feet (1219 meters), this eight-mile trip to the Canyon floor takes approximately five hours going down, and nine hours returning. Although this trail is considered the most popular and easiest of the two maintained trails on the South Rim, hikers have rated it "strenuous."
The second overlook along the West Rim Drive affords sightseers a partial view of Bright Angel Trail. From this point, visitors will find themselves at some 7,050 feet. In 1976, the world's first foot-launched hang gliding flight into the Canyon was executed from this lookout. Access to this point is via the trail system linking the overlooks along West Rim Drive and by shuttle in the summer months.
Each year millions of visitors to the Grand Canyon get their first spectacular, panoramic view of the natural wonder from the lookout at Mather Point. At an elevation of 7,120 feet, this viewpoint overlooks Pipe Creek Canyon and the Inner Gorge of the Colorado River. From this point sightseers can hike the South Rim Trail, which leads west to Yavapai Point. The Canyon View Information Plaza, open daily, is located at Mather Point. Restrooms, bookstore, pay phones and shuttle bus stops are close by.