During the winter months of December, January and February, Hermit Road is open to all vehicles.
Improved in 2008, Hermit Road (formerly known as the West Rim Drive) has some of the best Grand Canyon views that you can see anywhere. Once you get out to Hopi Point, the Colorado River comes into view, and on a quiet day at Pima Point, you can hear the roar of the Colorado River as it crashes through Granite Rapid.
The shuttle buses are great when you use them in conjunction with the rim trail - you can get off at one stop, enjoy a scenic walk along the rim, and then get back on the bus at the next stop. Photos >
If you feel like taking a longer walk, fill a backpack with food and water, then take the shuttle bus out to Hermit's Rest and day hike the Canyon Rim Trail the 8 miles (11 km) back to the Village.
Winter visitors should be advised that the road can close with little notice, particularly in the evenings, as refreezing snow melt creates the potential for black ice.
If you enjoy bicycling, Hermit Road is probably the best place in the park. There is far less traffic out here because of the limitations on private vehicles. The three miles of Greenway Trail are also a great addition for cyclists as well as hikers.
Hermit Road and most of its associated overlooks and parking areas are historic, designed and constructed in 1934-1935 by the Bureau of Public Roads and the National Park Service. These structures retaind a high degree of integrity. However, overall road condition was poor and did not meet current safety standards.
Road rehabilitation and construction completed in 2008 included: road widening and resurfacing to a consistent width of 24 feet, improvements to shuttle bus stops at overlooks, provision for accessible pedestrian routes from shuttle bus stops to viewing areas, and improvements to approximately five miles of rim trails, including a three-mile, multi-use greenway.
Hermit Road is a popular destination for South Rim visitors with:
9 overlooks providing canyon and river views,
Free shuttle bus service between March 1 - November 30 (closed to private vehicles during this period)
Popular spots for sunset viewing,
Special bus tours for train passengers,
Access to historic Hermits Rest and Hermit Trailhead, and
7 miles of improved and unimproved rim trails.
The 2008 Hermit Road Rehabilitation Project
The rehabilitation of Hermit Road began in February 2008, to address safety issues and accessibility and to preserve the historic integrity of the road. The project included widening and resurfacing the road to a consistent width of 24 feet; improving the shuttle bus stops at each of the overlooks; providing more accessible pedestrian routes from the shuttle bus stops and parking areas to the viewpoints; constructing a news shuttle bus shelter at the Hermit Road interchange; and improving approximately five and a half miles of rim trails, including construction of a new three-mile, multi-use Greenway Trail for bicyclists and pedestrians.
In addition to safety and accessibility, protecting the historical integrity of Hermit Road was an important aspect to this project. The original metal hand railings at each of the overlooks and the rustic-style stone masonry retaining walls were retained. Most of the Greenway Trail follows the alignment of the 1913 Hermit Rim Road. Minimizing disturbance to the natural and cultural environment and restoring damaged areas was another significant aspect of the Hermit Road project. Areas were restored that had been damaged by social trailing and other impacts. To better protect a rare plant population and adjacent suitable habitat, the parking area and access-road pavement was removed from Maricopa Point. A new Maricopa Point shuttle bus stop was created west of the rehabilitated parking lot, and a new accessible pedestrian path was built to Maricopa Point.
The Hermit Road rehabilitation project represents the hard work and input of many people and entities. Construction was performed by Fann Contracting, Inc., of Prescott, Arizona. Project oversight and construction management was performed by the Central Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration. The Grand Canyon Trail Crew worked portions of the Rim Trail and provided stone masonry and viewing area improvements at many of the viewpoints and the Grand Canyon Revegetation Staff planted more than 20,000 plants and restored approximately 4 acres of native vegetation at the overlooks and along the entire road. In addition, crews from the American Conservations Experience, and volunteers from the Student Conservation Association and the Sierra Club were instrumental in assisting with trail work and revegetation efforts.
Canyon Sketches Vol 06 - October 2008 Park Vegetation Crews Use Multiple Techniques to Restore Native Vegetation Along Hermit Road Hermit Road re-opened in November 2008 after a nine-month rehabilitation. Restoration of native vegetation along Hermit Road is one of the largest plant restoration and rehabilitation efforts ever undertaken at Grand Canyon National Park. The multi-faceted project includes a variety of restoration techniques and incorporates substantial contributions by park volunteers and interns.