Touring the Grand Canyon

Touring the Grand Canyon

Of the many natural wonders of the world, none capture the imagination the way Grand Canyon does, and for good reason, too. This massive, mile-deep chasm is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, and covers over 1,900 square miles. It was carved out of the surrounding rock by the Colorado River over the course of 6 million years–although new research suggests that parts of it may be as old as 70 million years.

Erosion continues to alter its world-renowned contours, revealing an artist’s pallet of red, brown, gold, ochre, pink and orange cliffs that change in hue and vibrancy depending on the sun’s position in the sky.

The stunning natural beauty and overwhelming vistas of the Grand Canyon draw millions of visitors from around the world to witness this spectacle each year. Thanks to its proximity to Las Vegas, a variety of tours are available to give visitors a break from the bright lights of the Vegas Strip and deliver them to the natural beauty and serenity of this spectacular national park.

Top Grand Canyon Tour Destinations

There are essentially three Grand Canyon tour destinations: the South Rim, the West Rim and the North Rim. Each offers dazzling views of the canyon’s multicolored cliffs, as well as some awesome photo ops!

  • The South Rim is open to the public all year and is the most popular part of the park for tourists due to its ease of access. This area includes Hermit’s Rest and the Grand Canyon Village, which acts as a visitors’ center and features an array of dining venues and shops.
  • North Rim Sometimes referred to as the “other” Grand Canyon, the North Rim is less populated with visitors and uniquely different from the South Rim. With an average elevation of 8,000 feet, the North Rim offers views of the canyon from a higher vantage, in an sub-alpine climate and environment of blue spruce, Douglas fir, mountain ash, colorful lupines and grassland meadows.
  • The West Rim is actually owned by the Havasupai Indian Tribe and is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park. A big draw to the West Rim is the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point. The Skywalk is the only place where visitors can step out onto a glass walkway nearly 3,000 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon and stare into the dizzying depths of the canyon below.

There’s also an east rim, but it’s most often referred to as Desert View, and is part of the South Rim. If you prefer a more tranquil visit to the South Rim without the congestion of large crowds found at Grand Canyon Village, this is the place. Its vistas are just as spectacular as those to the west and north.

How To Get There

Whether you drive there yourself or take a guided tour, Grand Canyon National Park is 280 miles from Las Vegas, or about 3.5 to 5 hours average drive-time, depending on whether you visit the West or South Rim. Typical tours from Las Vegas provide 2–3 hours at the Grand Canyon. Both coach tours and air tours offer options for overnight excursions. You can also purchase “flight only” tickets from some of the air tour companies and arrange your own tour by taking a taxi into the park once arriving at Grand Canyon Airport.

A Variety of Tours

Hoover DamHelicopter tours from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon are extremely popular. Prices for these tours range between $250-$1000 per person, depending on the type of tour that you choose. Some of these include landings on the canyon floor or canyon rim, pontoon boats rides on the Colorado River, horseback riding, and off-road tours.

Coach tours from Las Vegas offer more leisurely travel in roomy motorcoaches to the Grand Canyon. Some of them also offer packages that include Hoover Dam tours, as well as floating trips down the Colorado River. Many also feature stops at other nearby amazing natural wonders, including the Valley of Fire State Park, Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

However you get there and whichever tour you select, one thing is for sure–you’ll be glad you made the trip and experienced the thrill of seeing the vastness and beauty of this natural wonder in person!

Photo credit: Grand Canyon NPS via photopin cc