The Hermit Road is 7 miles in length and travels along the South Rim. Plan at least half a day trip. The road is closed to private vehicles from March through November. During that time you can ride the free Hermits Rest shuttle bus.
You can start at the Canyon View Information Plaza which is near Mather Point and provides you with spectacular views into the middle of the Grand Canyon. From here you can see the narrow ridges from the North Rim.
The nearby Yavapai Point observation station provides you information about the geology of the Grand Canyon and the major landmarks.
To see the view from Yavapai Point, take a look at the Grand Canyon webcam.
A great place to watch the afternoon summer thunderstorms is from the glass-enclosed observation room.
You can ride the free Hermits Rest shuttle bus, which travels along Hermit Road between the information center and Hermits Rest from March through November.
The Hermit Road travels along the rim of the Grand Canyon for 7 miles. You can get great views of the Colorado River and the side canyons and cliffs below the south rim. Be aware that the buses can get very crowded during the middle of the day.
The first bus stop is at the Trailview Overlook. You can see how big the Grand Canyon really is. To the south, you can see the historic El Tovar Hotel and the Bright Angel Lodge. Look for the mules and hikers that are along the Bright Angel Trail as it switchbacks 8 miles and drops 4,500 feet down to the Colorado River.
Hopi Point is a promontory that juts deep into the gorge. This is a great place for watching both the sunrise and sunset, because you can see 45 miles to both the east and the west. If you want to avoid the crowds, leave the main overlook and take a walk along the Rim Trail to find your own private observation site. Look across the river and you can see the impressive walls of Isis Temple and the "grandest of all buttes", Shiva Temple.
The Hermit Road bus route continues to the west passing Mohave Point and passing very close to the Abyss, which is a sheer cliff that drops 3,000 feet to a plateau below. The road continues along the rim to Pima Point. From here, you can see the Colorado River snaking through the deep gorge. On a quiet day, you can hear the distant sound of the river roaring through Grantie Rapids. If you are lucky, you might be able to see the whitewater rafters paddle through the rapids.
The road ends at Hermits Rest, which is a stone building that houses a curio shop. If you have time and are in good shape, you can hike partway down the steep Hermit Trail to Dripping Springs. This hike is 7 miles round-trip and will take you 6 to 9 hours. You do not need a permit for a day hike, but you should check with a park ranger about the condition of the trail.
If you want to hike and take your time to explore the South Rim, you can hike along the Rim Trail which hugs the edge of the canyon from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest.
The Rim Trail is paved to Maricopa Point and the rest of the trail is dirt. You can combine short hikes with catching the shuttle bus at any of the main overlooks. On the return trip from Hermits Rest, the shuttle bus only stops at Mohave and Hopi Points.