There’s lots of ways to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. However time and money can force the decision onto how you visit and what part. I’ll be talking about how I did it and other options you might want to consider if your budget is bigger than mine was!
Which Part of the Canyon to Visit?
As the Canyon is so vast (some may say Grand -*groan*) there’s multiple ‘rims’ that can be visited. The South Rim is the most famous of the main three, however it’s not the closest to Las Vegas so isn’t recommended for a day trip if travelling by ground. The West Rim is much closer to Las Vegas (by 150miles!) So if you’re time strapped this is the rim to visit as it can be easily done in a day.
How to Get There?
The easiest and cheapest way is on ground through one of the many tour operators that offer Grand Canyon Trips. There are loads of them but my biggest tip is to go with one that leaves earlier than most. The area can soon get very busy so well worth getting there before the crowds. Luckily because we left Las Vegas a couple of hours earlier than most tours we missed the rush and were ahead of the crowds throughout. We paid extra to not have to meet at a ‘tour centre’ (like a bus station/meet up point) . They pick you up from your hotel, then take you to the central meeting point which takes allll the time. So we got picked up directly from our hotel by urgrading to the deluxe version of our trip. Our tour depart time was 7am and we were picked up at 620am. The early start was worth it honest!
Of course there is the helicopter option, much quicker, probably more spectacular (so I’m informed by friends) and but also more expensive. If that’s your bag then going for sunrise or sunset would be pretty amazing!
How I Did It
The bonus of a coach trip are the sights you get to see on the way. We had a stop off by the Hoover Dam just before breakfast as and the sun started to rise above the mountains. The roads were pretty clear thanks to our early set off so we had a great run. The Canyon Tours Guide was knowledgeable throughout and we also watched some videos on the tiny coach TV’s about the building of the Hoover Dam and info about the Grand Canyon which were all so interesting even though they were all very 90’s style!
We then went through the Joshua Tree Forest, I wish we could have stopped here for a little as I really wanted to see some up close but that’s one of the downsides of a coach versus a car. We finally arrived at the West Rim about 10.30am.
The Grand Canyon West Rim
The West Rim is owned by the Hualapei Indians so the usual Grand Canyon National Park Pass isn’t valid here. You have to buy an entrance ticket to get access instead. Make sure you check this is included in your tour (ours was). It gets you access to the three main points and the hop on bus between the three:
- Eagle Point
- Guano Point
- Hualapei Ranch
We chose to go to Eagle Point first, so called thanks to a gap in the peaks looking like an eagle spreading its wings. I’d say it’s the most popular part as this is where the Skywalk is. It’s an extra fee to pay to walk the skywalk and cameras aren’t allowed on it (I did get the shakes not being able to take photos I won’t lie!) They have pro photographers who I’d heard charge loads for one photo but it was actually about $16 so we relented and got a couple, after all it’s not every day you walk across a glass walkway above the Grand Canyon is it!? I’d highly recommend this as I felt nervous on the non-barriered edges so this meant I could feel more supported looking down and into the canyon.
Around this point are some more educational parts including some authentically built teepees and sweat lodges and we got to see some Joshua Trees up close so ensure you spend a little time walking around it.
At Guano Point so called as it’s home to an old Guano mine – the views are spectacular. I actually preferred them to Eagle Point. Oh and Guano is bat poop. Yep really.
At this point you can hike around a bit more but we didn’t have time for that! Our lunch that was included is also at the cafeteria here. It was actually quite nice considering it wasn’t the most a la carte of set meals. It was included in our tour (and with the higher cost park access ticket).
Once we’d explored it was time to head back so we didn’t get chance to check out the ranch part. When we got back to the coach the hop on bus had rather big queues. Which is the point we realised it was worth the early get up.
We were back in Vegas , changed and out shopping within 4 hours of leaving the West Rim. They say it’s takes about 2.5 hours to get to and from. Accounting for drop offs at hotels etc it was just over 3 hours until our drop off. Overall I would recommend the trip and it’s definitely something to plan in if your are going to Las Vegas.