grand canyon from the south rim

Can You Drive To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, and for a good reason. Not only is it jaw-dropping to see in person, but it is also a Unesco World Heritage site and considered one of the 7 Natural wonders of the world.

And if you have never visited before, you might be asking yourself a reasonable question. Can you drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?

We will look at if it is possible and at other options to get to the bottom that might meet your travel needs while visiting this natural wonder.

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Can You Drive To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon

The answer is actually No AND Yes.

Are you confused? Let us explain.

The answer is NO if you visit Grand Canyon National Park and are within the park’s limits. No road takes you down to the bottom of the canyon from the South or North Rim.

If you have visited before or seen photos, you will know that within the park, the sides of the canyon are, for the most part, sheer dropoffs. There are no trails that are wide enough for a vehicle to be able to go down safely.

So how can the answer also be yes?

While you can’t visit the bottom of the grand canyon from within the national park, you can take a single road into the canyon and to the edge of the Colorado River OUTSIDE the park.

Where CAN You Drive To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon

Diamond Creek Road is the only road that takes you into the canyon via car so you can visit the bottom.

The start of the road is located in Peach Springs, a small town on Native American tribal land. You will need to get a permit to drive the road from the Hualapai tribe.

can you drive to the bottom of the grand canyon, yes, and look at these views - views of the colorado river with towering rock formations on either side

What Do You Need To Know Before Going On Diamond Creek Road


The fees are $25 per person + tax.

You will pay for your permit at Hualapai Lodge, located at 900 AZ-66, Peach Springs, AZ.

Seasonal Or Year Round

Diamond Creek Road is open year-round. But because parts of the road are within a dry riverbed, it is prone to flash floods. So checking the weather forecast before you attempt this drive is critical for your safety.


From March 15th to October 31st, you can traverse this road between 9 am and 4:30 pm.

Between November 1st and March 14th, the hours are 8 am to 3 pm.


While a 4×4 vehicle is not required, we highly recommend one. The roads are gravel and dirt, not paved, and having a 4×4 gives you peace of mind that you won’t get stuck and stranded if you hit a muddy patch or worse.

We also highly recommend having a high-clearance vehicle as well. You will be heading over some larger rocks and running streams.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you if you decide to drive your sports car through here and scrap up the bottom.


If you don’t have the right vehicle for this drive (or just don’t feel comfortable driving it yourself), have no fear! You can still see the bottom of the Grand Canyon via a tour. This 4.5-star tour is a full-day excursion that provides lunch down by the river.

The tour leaves from Williams, Az, about an hour from the entrance to Diamond Creek Road, so expect to spend quite a bit of time in the vehicle. But you will be surrounded by awesome views…and it’s air-conditioned!

➡️ Book now to head to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

the grand canyon from the south rim

What To Expect On The Drive

After picking up your permit in Peach Springs, you are ready to drive Diamond Creek Road to the edge of the Colorado River and the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

The road is about 20 miles (32.2 km) and will take around one hour to drive, longer if you take tons of photos as we do.

As we already mentioned, the road will be unpaved so expect some rough conditions. You will cross a few creeks, see some small waterfalls depending on what season you visit, and hit a few bumpy sections along the way.

There will be stunning scenery along the trail, but something to note is that this area isn’t as deep or dramatic as what you experienced in the national park. Instead of sheer cliffs, you will have more mountain-like structures and lots of vegetation.

At the end of the road, you can dip your toes into the Colorado River. And if you get a permit to do so, you can even camp overnight.

While the views may not be as dramatic as within the national park, you get to have an experience not that many people enjoy during their visit to the area.

📎 Note: Will you be heading to the Grand Canyon from Houston? Check out our suggested stops along the way.

How Far Is It From Grand Canyon National Park

If you want to drive Diamond Creek Road as part of your Grand Canyon National Park trip, leave a whole day for the experience.

The town of Peach Springs is a little over 2 hours from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Remember, you will need to stop here for your permit to go further.

google map showing the route from the grand canyon, to peach springs on the native american reservation, and up to the diamond creek beach each point

Then you will have the drive to the bottom of the canyon, taking another hour or so. Plan for some time at the end of Diamond Creek Road to enjoy a snack or lunch before making your way out again.

All in all, plan on 8 hours or more if you are staying near the South Rim.

What Are Other Options To Get To The Bottom of the Grand Canyon

After reading about the experience, maybe you have decided that it doesn’t sound as appealing as you first thought.

So what options do you have to see the bottom instead? There are three other options to choose from.

You can hike to the bottom. Both the Bright Angel Trail (about 10 miles) and the South Kaibab Trail (about 7 miles) will get you there.

Both of these hikes are incredibly steep and considered strenuous. On average, hikers take 3 to 5 hours to get down to the bottom, and as much as 7 to 9 hours to get back up.

Due to the hiking time, it is highly advisable to do this hike over two days with an overnight at the bottom of the canyon.

📎 Tip: We suggest that if you want to try hiking to the bottom, you visit either in the spring or the fall. During the summer heat, it is too easy to get dehydrated and risk possible heat stroke during the strenuous climb.

hiking is another way to get to the bottom of the canyon - 2 hikers stand midway down the canyon overlooking the river

Can You Get To The Bottom Of The Canyon Without Hiking

Not a big hiking fan, or know that this type of hike is beyond your limits? You are not alone; we certainly don’t think we can hike 9 hours uphill with an average elevation change of 4300 ft (1310.6 m).

So what are the other two options besides hiking?

First, you can hop on a whitewater rafting tour to venture through the bottom of the canyon. Tours range from a day trip to a week or more, depending on your level of expertise and time constraints.

We have whitewater rafted before in Colorado and had a blast, so being able to do it through the Grand Canyon would be epic.

➡️ Book your 1-day rafting trip now before it sells out

If you don’t want to hike into the canyon or try rafting, the last option is to ride a mule.

Leaving directly from within the national park, you will meet at the Bright Angel Lodge for your reservation. The ride down and back up will both take 5 to 6 hours. As part of your reservation, you will get an overnight stay at the Phantom Ranch with meals included.

There are a few restrictions on riding the mules, particularly age and weight limits. So make sure you qualify before booking. You can look at those restrictions and book here.

Do Mules Ever Fall In The Grand Canyon

If you are like us, you probably had this thought when we suggested riding a mule. After all, you will be on a steep trail with a significant drop.

It always feels scary to let someone else take control, particularly an animal you can’t communicate with easily. What if it doesn’t do what you want? What if it trips and falls, and you fly off the back? What if it stumbles, and you both fall over the edge?

Rest assured. It has never happened in the 100 years+ that mule rides have been going on. Not a single rider has ever been killed while doing a mule ride.

So sit back and enjoy your ride on the loveable yet stinky mule!

📎 Note: Mules are not the only animals within the park, most are harmless, but a few can be dangerous!

view of the grand canyon with some cloud cover

What Is The Temperature At The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon

If you make your way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, expect temperatures to be as much as 20°F higher than at the top of the rim. Remember when we suggested that you avoid hiking to the bottom of the canyon in summer, this is why.

In August, the average temperature at the top of the rim is around 80°F (26.6°C). That means that the valley floor will be topping 100°F (37.8°C). That is extremely hot weather to be hiking in, and it will be easy to overheat and exhaust yourself.

What Percentage Of Grand Canyon Visitors Go Below The Rim

The Grand Canyon is one of the most visited national parks in the US. In fact, it has more than 6 million visitors each year.

And only 1% decide to venture below the rim and beyond the viewpoints. That is only 60,000 individuals each year!

Please make sure you are one of those individuals to get a different perspective by being below the rim and in the canyon itself.

Even if you choose not to head all the way to the bottom, at least take one of the trails down for a bit to see what it is like.

can you drive to the bottom of the grand canyon - not within the national park itself but you will see some views like this tree growing in a rocky outcropping

To Finish – Can You Drive To The Bottom Of The Grand Canyon

As you can see, the answer to can you drive to the bottom of the grand canyon is yes. You just can’t do it from within the national park itself.

It is a gorgeous drive, and we recommend it if you have extra time while in the area. But if you only have one day, we do not recommend putting it above seeing the South Rim. It just doesn’t have the same awe-inspiring views.

But if you have seen Grand Canyon National Park before and want to try something different, or have a few extra days in the area, then absolutely try to head to the bottom of the canyon via driving or another way.