Ooh Aah Point, Grand Canyon

by | Jul 16, 2020 | Arizona, USA

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Ooh Aah Point, a 1.8 mile hike descending below the canyon rim, is one of the best short hikes at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This relatively easy and short hike offers visitors a unique view of the magnificent Grand Canyon from below its rim. For those of you planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park we wanted to share our experience and tip for hiking to Ooh Aah Point.

Ooh Aah Point

Incredible Views from Ooh Aah Point

 

Ooh Aah Point

Ooh Aah Point is a viewpoint located 600 feet below the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It is part of the South Kaibab trail, a 6.3 mile hike which descends 4,800 feet from the South Rim to the Colorado River. The trail follows the ridge lines along the canyon and offers unobstructed views of the magnificent Grand Canyon.

  • Hike Length: 1.8 miles round trip
  • Hike Time: 1.5 to 2 hours (it takes almost twice as long to hike back up!)
  • Hike Difficulty: Easy to Moderate hike on a well maintained path. The trail has an easy descent followed by a challenging uphill return to the trail head.
  • Trail Head: South Kaibab trail head on Yaki Point Road
  • Parking Lot: Yaki Point Road is only accessible by shuttle bus. Parking is available at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center and the Backcountry Information Center

 

How to Get to Ooh Aah Point Trail Head

The trail for Ooh Aah Point can be accessed by the South Rim Shuttle Bus service or by parking on Desert View Drive and walking to the trail head.

Shuttle to the Ooh Aah Point Trail Head

The easiest way to access the trail head is by using the free South Rim shuttle bus service.

  • Kaibab (Orange) Route: the Kaibab shuttle drops off directly at the South Kaibab trail head. Its other stops include the Grand Canyon Visitors Center, Mather Point, the Yavapai Geology Museum and Pipe Creek Vista. Many hikers use the parking lot at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center and take the shuttle to the South Kaibab taril head.
  • Hikers Express Shuttle: for hikers who wish to hike to Ooh Aah point for sunrise there is a Hikers’ Express Shuttle bus. This early morning bus takes hikers from Bright Angel Lodge to the South Kaibab trail via the Grand Canyon Visitors Center and the Backcountry Information Center. The bus times vary depending on the time of year. Check the official site for details here. We stayed at Bright Angel Lodge and took the Hiker’s Express from here the morning we hiked to Ooh Aah Point. The bus trip took around 10-15 minutes and left exactly on time, so don’t be late!

Ooh Aah Point

The South Kaibab Trailhead and Bus stop

 

Desert View Drive Parking

  • Desert View Drive: no cars are allowed access off Desert View Drive to the parking lot at the South Kaibab trailhead or the nearby Yaki Point. It’s sometimes possible to grab a spot on Desert View Drive and make the 20 minute hike to the trail head. The only official parking close to the trailhead is at Pipe Creek Vista. Be careful to obey all the parking and access signs as there are fines for breaking the rules.

 

 

Hiking to Ooh Aah Point

The hike to Ooh Aah Point is a 1.8-mile out-and-back hike that starts and ends at the South Kaibab trail head.

Although it’s a straightforward hike there is a 600 feet descent into the canyon which can be challenging on the hike out of the canyon. This is especially true during the warmer summer months when the elevation gain, high temperatures and exposed trail can easily overcome hikers making the return trip. As such only attempt this hike if you are confident in your ability and have water with you. If possible avoid hiking during the hottest parts of the day.

Ooh Aah Point Tip: Always take water with you on any hike into the Grand Canyon. During the summer months, even a short hike to somewhere like Ooh Aah Point can be dangerous due to the excessive temperatures.

Ooh Aah Point

Warning sign for hikers as you descent the South Kaibab Trail

 

Sunrise Hikes to Ooh Aah Point

We highly recommend hiking to Ooh Aah Point for sunrise or very early in the morning. You’ll avoid the worst heat of the day and sunrise from the point is an amazing experience. You’ll also not have to deal with the crowds that the Grand Canyon is known for on busy summer days. Visiting early in the morning will also allow visitors to stop at Yaki Point en-route back to the visitors centre before the crowds arrive later in the day.

Ooh Aah Point tip: for those planning to hike to Ooh Aah Point for sunrise we highly recommend taking a head torch. It will help you see your footing along the hike as there are high drops off to the side of the trail.

Ooh Aah Point

A head torch is a must for the sunrise hike

 

The trail to Ooh Aah Point

The South Kaibab trail, which leads to Ooh Aah Point, is a well maintained trail which hugs the cliff face as it winds down towards the turn where Ooh Aah Point is located.

The hike begins with a series of tight steep switchbacks before leveling out. From the very start of the hike, the views are incredible.

Ooh Aah Point: we visited the Grand Canyon in November 2019 and were lucky to experience the Grand Canyon with a fresh blanket of snow.

Ooh Aah Point

The first set of switchbacks

Ooh Aah Point

The trail hugs the cliffs as it descends into the Canyon

Ooh Aah Point

The trail is shared with pack mules which are used to transport food and equipment down into the Canyon. Priority must be given to the mules so make sure to stand to the side of the trail and listen to the guides instructions. You can hear the bells of the mules well before you see them so you’ll know they’re coming!

Ooh Aah Point

Mules descending the South Kaibab Trail

 

There is a significant drop to one side of the trail but the edge is clearly marked with a line of stone and there is ample space on the trail for those who wish to avoid the edge!

Ooh Aah Point

There are significant drops off the side of the trail

 

There are also lots of steps cut into the trail which make the hike a lot easier, especially on the return trip back up to the trail head.

Ooh Aah Point

The trail is well maintained with steps

 

Ooh Aah Point tip: This generally goes without saying but as it’s a national park, don’t interact with or feed the animals in the park. They’re wild and the elk can especially be dangerous. Also, the squirrels carry the plague (yes, the plague) in the Grand Canyon so don’t feed them!

 

The View from Ooh Aah Point

The Ooh Aah Point itself is located on a sharp turn on the South Kaibab trail. There is a sign indicating that you’re at the right spot and it’s easy to see why they call it Ooh Aah point. The view is spectacular and it took our breath away.

Ooh Aah Point

The view as you approach Ooh Aah Point

 

The viewpoint is easily accessible from the trail in front of the sign. There are lots of large, flat boulders either side of the sign where you can get a slightly better view, however there is a sheer drop on the far side so it important to stay on the trail.

The biggest advantage of hiking to Ooh Aah Point for sunrise is catching the early morning light flooding the canyon walls. Due to the location of the viewpoint its possible to see in both directions into the Canyon. There are views of both the much less visited East Canyon as well as the West Canyon.

Ooh Aah Point

The incredible view from Ooh Aah Point

 

 

Yaki Point

Once you return to the trail head and the bus stop make sure to catch the shuttle to Yaki Point before heading back to your car or accommodation. Yaki Point is one of the most popular viewing areas along the Canyon rim and is only accessible via the shuttle bus or by walking.

Ooh Aah Point

View of South Kaibab Trail from Yaki Point

Ooh Aah Point

The Canyon View from Yaki Point

 

Tips for Hiking to Ooh Aah Point

  • Winter: temperatures are low at the South Rim in Winter and it is common for the South Kaibab trail to be covered in ice or snow. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and hiking shoes. We use Yaktrax on our shoes for extra grip.
  • Summer: summer temperatures are extreme at the Grand Canyon and the trail to Ooh Aah Point offers little shade. Make sure to bring water and sunscreen and avoid the midday sun.
  • Watch where you step: always, always check your feet before you take a single step at the viewpoint. A fall could be fatal.
  • Extending the trail: Ceadar Ridge is another half mile down the trail and is another popular day hike. The full South Kaibab rim to river hike is only recommended as a two day hike with an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch.

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