A real bonus for park visitors during the winter months (December through February) is the seasonal access they have to the breathtaking scenic overlooks along Hermit Road (formerly known as West Rim Drive) using their personal vehicles.
For most of the year, Hermit Road is accessible only via the park’s free shuttle buses in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. With the off-season marked decrease in visitation, the decision was made years ago to throw open the gates from December 1st through February 28th.*
The winding seven-mile, paved road parallels the South Rim, ending at architect Mary Jane Colter’s Hermits Rest. This landmark structure was named after pioneer Louis Boucher who mined, gardened, and provided guided tours into the canyon on the nearby Hermit and Boucher Trails.
Photographers in particular are drawn to the Hermit Road’s overlooks this time of year as they can roll up to the rim with as much gear as they can fit into their vehicle, vs. lugging it on and off a shuttle bus. My personal favorite overlooks for photography at both sunset and sunrise are Pima, Mohave, and Powell Points. Hopi Point is beautiful as well, but draws heavy crowds, even during the winter months.
Follow the links below to learn more about how Hermit Road is configured, and about the enigmatic Louis Boucher—not a true hermit, but certainly a man who left his mark, and his name, in one of the prettiest corners of Grand Canyon National Park.
*Updated to show correct dates. Original post showed November 1st to March 1st.