Getting from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon
If there is one day trip that most people visiting Las Vegas want to make, it’s to the Grand Canyon. What they don’t realize, however, is that the Grand Canyon isn’t as close as they think it is. Nonetheless, there are three ways that travelers can get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.
South Rim: The distance from Las Vegas to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is nearly 300 miles. The South Rim is the most popular vantage point of the canyon, and though it can be quite crowded in the summer, this is the Grand Canyon people imagine when they conjure up a picture of the national park. To reach this park on your own four wheels, you’ll need a rental car if you don’t have your own. Drive out of Las Vegas south on I-93. You’ll cross the Hoover Dam bridge driving into Arizona. At Kingman, take I-40 east. Stay on this road for nearly 120 miles, then turn north onto AZ-64 north, which leads into the park. There are parking lots throughout the park, and with your own vehicle, you can drive along the scenic rim drive as well.
North Rim: The South Rim gets 90% of Grand Canyon National Park’s visitors, which leaves the North Rim with a mere 10%. The distance to reach the North Rim is just about the same as the South Rim, but the roads are not as easily to traverse, so it takes significantly longer to reach it. In fact, the idea of turning the North Rim into a day trip is nearly impossible. If you’d like to spend the night at the North Rim, either in the lodge or campground, you can reach the park this way: Drive into Utah on I-15 north, take the exit for the Grand Canyon and follow the signs until you reach the Kaibab National Forest. The road into the park is AZ-67 south. It is closed during the winter.
West Rim: More and more people are starting to turn to the West Rim for a Grand Canyon day trip. This is approximately 125 miles from Las Vegas and is the site of the Skywalk. You can not find directions on Google Maps or using a GPS, so you’ll need to note the directions on the West Rim website before leaving for the drive. You must park at the Grand Canyon West Airport and utilize the shuttle in the park. Cars are not allowed at any of the points of interest without a disabled parking permit. The road into the West Rim is a rough dirt road, so many people choose to park at Meadview, about an hour away from the Skywalk, and take a shuttle bus in.
There are several Las Vegas tour companies that offer day trips to both the South Rim and West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Many of the vehicle tours leave from the Las Vegas Strip early in the morning and include some sort of guided experience both in the park and possibly at the Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon. Tour packages and prices vary depending on the company, but there is no shortage of tour companies, and many often run specials on their offerings. Taking a guided vehicle tour instead of driving yourself is often worth the time and money because you’re going with someone who knows the area and has arranged all the details, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
The quickest (and often, most expensive) way to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is to take a helicopter or airplane tour. These tours start at about $150.00 and go up from there, depending on how elaborate the experience is. The very simplest air tours over the Grand Canyon last about thirty minutes and include only a ride from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon where the craft circles before turning back. More elaborate tours often include a stop at the bottom of the canyon for lunch or a snack, and sometimes there are add-on features including a tour of the Hoover Dam.
>>More information on national parks near Las Vegas.