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Grand Canyon and Las Vegas

Options to Visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas


Woman sitting at edge of mountain, using binoculars
Andy Sotiriou/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Travelers often ask me how to get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.

The answer depends on time and interests, but a simple fact may help. As the proverbial crow flies, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas are only 180 miles apart, but by highway it's much further, about 280 miles (a six-hour drive) to either rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.

Factors to consider when deciding whether and how to get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas include available time, cost, and your ability/willingness to drive a long distance.

Grand Canyon from Las Vegas with a Tour Company

Tour companies offer many combinations of bus, helicopter, airplane, train and rafting trips to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. Commercial land tours go to the South Rim only. A bus tour takes fourteen hours (of which you'll spend only two to three hours at your destination).

Helicopter or airplane trips last from one to three and a half hours. Airplane tours may just fly over, but some helicopter tours offer an optional canyon-bottom landing. All of the helicopter trips go to the WEST RIM, not the more popular and well-known South Rim. Don't let it keep you from going, but don't be surprised when it doesn't look quite like you expected. The West Rim is where the Grand Canyon Skywalk is located.

You can reserve a variety of tours through Viator.com and print your tickets at home. They guarantee their rates are as low as you'd get through the tour company.

Grand Canyon from Las Vegas: Drive Yourself

Driving to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas allows more flexibility and privacy than a commercial tour, and it enables visiting either rim. Consider these factors when deciding which rim to visit:

The North Rim is my personal favorite. It's far less crowded than the south, where you almost have to elbow your way to the overlooks in summer. Because of the canyon's shape, views are better, and the drive through Zion National Park on the way is an added attraction. The North Rim is closed in winter.

The South Rim is open all year. It's the one with the most publicity, and the one most people think they should visit. If you'll feel embarrassed back home to say you didn't visit El Tovar (or any other famous sight), this is the rim for you.

Making the drive to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas in one day requires an early start and enough stamina to drive for twelve hours or more. Leaving Las Vegas at 7:00 AM and returning at 9:00 PM allows about two hours for sightseeing, enough time to drive around, peer over a few overlooks and take some photos.

An overnight trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas allows more time to enjoy the sights at a leisurely pace, and to see the canyon at its most beautiful, at sunset and sunrise. An overnight trip to the North Rim allows time to visit Zion National Park, too.

If you plan to stay overnight at the canyon or near Zion, reserve well in advance. The National Park lodges fill up fast, and they're the only practical option on the North Rim.

Grand Canyon from Las Vegas Costs

A bus tour to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas costs $150 and up, and air tours are at least 3 times that much, with airplanes less expensive than helicopters. Helicopter trips with a landing are more expensive than fly-by ones, but may be worth the cost, considering that this is the only way many of us could ever get down to the bottom.

Many tour companies offer Internet-only reservation discounts, and it's worth your time to research the options online. You can also compare prices of a number of tours and reserve them online at Viator.com

A one-day drive-it-yourself trip should cost less than $200 for car rental, gasoline and meals, making it less expensive than the commercial options if more than one person is traveling.

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