So you are in Las Vegas on vacation and you notice that everyone seems to be offering motor coach tours to each of the Grand Canyon rim destinations. What does Las Vegas have to do with the Grand Canyon you ask? You might be surprised to discover it is actually the closest major city to the canyon. The nearest point is only a two hour drive from city center.
Proximity to one of the greatest natural wonders of the world means there is no shortage of Las Vegas tour companies offering bus and coach tours. How do you pick the best Las Vegas to Grand Canyon tour? Well, the first thing you need to figure out is which Grand Canyon rim you want to visit?
Know Your Grand Canyon Rim
Needless to say, the Grand Canyon is a really big place. This means you have options when choosing your final destination. All tours end in one of three locations; the South Rim, the North Rim, or the West Rim. While all three spots are great to visit, there are big differences between each Grand Canyon rim you need to be aware of before paying money for a tour.
Need answers fast? Let’s do a lightning round of the most common questions:
- Do you want to visit Grand Nation National Park? Go to the South or North Rims, the West Rim is located outside the park within the tribal lands of the native Hualapai Tribe.
- Do you also want to see Hoover Dam? Take the South or West Rim tours. The trip to the North Rim takes a different, but no less interesting, route through Utah.
- Want to get your Kicks on Historic Route 66? Only a visit to the South Rim will include historic stops on the ‘Most Famous Road in America’.
- Want to walk on the glass bridge? The Grand Canyon Skywalk is located at the West Rim. Head there if you want the thrill of standing 4,000 feet above the Colorado River with only a glass floor between you and the bottom of the canyon.
- Developed and Popular or Rugged and Secluded? If you want the most popular destination choose the South Rim and enjoy it’s many amenities and attractions. If wild and undeveloped is more your style, head to the North Rim.
- Looking for an authentic Native American experience? The West Rim, also known as Grand Canyon West, is located on Hualapai land and operated by the tribe.
Still need some more information before you make a final decision. DIY Travelers has you covered. Here is the meat of this discussion about the experiences you can expect at each Grand Canyon rim. Let us break each destination down for you so that you know what you are getting into before you go. After all, not only is that tour costing you hard earned money, it will also take a day out of your Las Vegas vacation. Here’s the data dump on Grand Canyon bus tours.
Also called Grand Canyon West or the Grand Canyon Skywalk, this is the shortest and most common canyon bus tour offered from Las Vegas to a Grand Canyon rim. The highlight of this tour is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge suspended 4,000 ft (1219 m) above the canyon floor. The West Rim is also unique because it is not part of Grand Canyon National Park, it is owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe of Peach Springs, AZ.
Located 120 miles (193 km) from Las Vegas, a Grand Canyon West bus tour will likely take 8-10 hours depending on stops and time spent at the Skywalk. Before purchasing a tour, ask about the cost of Skywalk admission. A ticket to walk on the bridge will likely NOT be included with your tour. Find out the additional cost before you go.
The South Rim
The most visited destination in Grand Canyon National Park, the South Rim is what most people have in mind when they think of the canyon. You’ll have no lack of options when choosing a tour company for a trip the South Rim. The most developed and accessible section of the national park, it features many iconic locations and famous outlook points. If you’ve ever seen a picture of the Grand Canyon, it was likely taken here.
Travelling to the South Rim will take you along Historic Route 66 in Arizona. Since it is over 250 miles (400+ km) from Las Vegas, you can expect an average bus tour to this destination to last 12-16 hours. This includes stop at sights along the way and time spent at the canyon.
The North Rim
The South Rim’s little brother in terms of visitors and development, the North Rim is the perfect destination if you want to see a more natural side of the canyon. While still part of the Grand National Park, the rugged wilderness of the North Rim makes it a favorite destination for hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Fewer companies offer tours here, so you may have to search around to find one that fits your needs.
The trip to the North Rim travels through Utah, offering completely different landscapes than the South Rim route. While the distance is nearly the same at 260+ miles (415+ km), the trip takes longer because of the roads. Expect a North Rim tour to last 14-18 hours depending on the time spent in the park and stops along the way.
Other Things to Consider
When choosing a bus tour, always shop around. Prices vary greatly, so take a little extra time to look for a good value. Ask for specifics on how long the tour will be and where you are going to stop. Some tour companies will leave you at a depot full of cheap souvenirs for a an hour or two at the start of the tour. Avoid these companies like the plague.
There you go, now you too are an expert on the differences between each Grand Canyon rim. Prepare to win friends and influence people with your new found knowledge. Until next time, keep traveling my friends.
About DIY Travelers
DIY Travelers is the real life travel triumphs and tragedies of blogger Giuseppe Macchiaverna. A regular guy giving world travel a try. You can follow his escapades across social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Please let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.