Las Vegas is an amazing city to visit, with so much to see and do, from exciting hotels on the strip, gambling, nightlife and relaxing by the pool. But what about getting out of the fast paced, bright lights of the city and take a day trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas?
The Grand Canyon formed over millions of years, with the different coloured layers of red and orange rock. Everything around looks so still and quiet.
But before you book your day trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, there’s just a few things to decide on. The main factors will be, if you’ll be doing a self-guided Grand Canyon tour, or taking a guided tour. You’ll also need to factor in which rim you would like to visit.
We visited two points on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and took a guided tour.
In our experience taking a guided tour is much easier and simplest way to enjoy the Grand Canyon, without the hassle of driving there, arranging food, etc.
So which rim and tour should you book for a day trip to the Grand Canyon?
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Table of Contents
Which rim to visit at the Grand Canyon?
There’re four popular rims to visit at the Grand Canyon. The south rim, north rim, east and you got it the west rim.
The South Rim
The most popular rim by far is the south rim. It’s one of the rims that’s in magazines, on social media, websites and TV. Plus, it’s the easiest to get to, only about a 5 hours’ drive from Las Vegas.
With multiple viewing points along the south, offering some of the best views of the canyon and in some places the Colorado River below.
If you’re a first-time traveller to the Grand Canyon, then the South Rim is the best option.
The rim is open all year round and the highest point at the south rim is over 7,000 feet above sea level.
The North Rim
Far less tourists visit the Northern Rim and somewhat different to compared to the southern rim.
At a height of 8,000 feet above sea level and 10 degrees cooler than the south rim, brings abundance of different fauna and flora.
BUT, its only open between May and October, due to the snow during the winter months and takes 6 hours from Las Vegas.
With fewer viewing points on the North Rim, the views are somewhat different. There’s a smaller chance of seeing the Colorado River below, or the coloured layers of the rocks, but the compromise would be the reduced crowds and tourists.
You’d be better off visiting the South Rim if you’re a first-time traveller to the Grand Canyon.
The second most visited spot on the rim, due to its new addition of the skywalk, which is a glass balcony that juts 70 feet out from the rim edge.
You wouldn’t want to walk out over the edge of the canyon on the balcony if you’re afraid of heights.
A great spot for images of the Colorado River below, with a horseshoe shaped bend in the canyon.
Not quite as well known and visited as the other rims and one we haven’t visited yet. But we will be returning to the Grand Canyon again.
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Guide tour vs self-guided tour?
You have chosen to take some time out of sin city and take a day trip to the Grand Canyon. You have a choice of four rims to visit.
But now you need to decide, if you should take a self-guided tour, or go on a guided tour.
Which is the best?
If you prefer taking things at your own pace, then a self-guided tour is ideal for you.
You would plan your day trip to the Grand Canyon, from how you will get there, where you will stop along the rim and where you’ll eat and drink etc.
The advantage of a self-guided tour, is that you will be in control.
There are some disadvantages of course.
Firstly, you’ll need to decide how to get there. There’s no public transport and it’s a 5-hour drive at least to one of the rims. You’ll most definitely need to hire a vehicle (unless you have your own vehicle).
You’ll need to plan the distances between each point that you’ll want to stop off on the rim, how long you’ll spend there and where you’ll stop to have food and drink. Alternatively, you could bring a packed lunch!
There’s definitely more to consider with a self-guided tour.
Compare this to a guided tour.
We went on a guided tour and found this was a much better suited for our needs. We’ll go through more about our tour in a moment.
But a guided tour, is something that you’ll book through a company that will arrange everything for you.
They can arrange everything from transport to the Grand Canyon, the stops you’ll cover on the rim and food and drink. All you need to do, is sit back and enjoy the ride to the rim.
The disadvantages of a guided tour, is that it can be rushed.
You’ll only have a designated time at each point on the rim, before moving on. You’re not in control of what you want to do, as everything has already been scheduled. You’ll be sharing a guided tour with other customers who have booked the same tour.
It really is going to come down to, what is more convenient for you. Do you want something that’s already planned and set out, you just pay for your seat and off you go, or do you want to plan everything down to the last minute.
As mentioned above, we much preferred the guided tour, we just chose what rim we wanted to visit, before arriving at our pick-up point and off we go.
So, do you choose the guided tour, or self-guided tour?
Day Trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
We have covered the difference between self-guides and a guided tour, plus, its advantages and disadvantages.
We will now go through your day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Now, we do want to point out that we took a guided tour, but we will include some recommendations on how you could do a self-guided day trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
Rise early to be picked up by your tour guide. They’ll collect you from your hotel and take you for a light breakfast.
We would recommend buying snacks the day before to be packed in your day backpack, you might get hungry on route.
Once you’ve had breakfast, make your way back to the tour bus, to continue your journey onto the Grand Canyon.
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Depending on the tour you purchase, you may get to stop at Hoover Dam, but for us it was a flying visit. And we mean flying visit.
Our tour stopped in a lay-by for a few minutes for pictures before continuing our journey to the Grand Canyon.
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On your way to the Grand Canyon, you’ll stop for food. We stopped for a buffet meal, before continuing the journey to the Grand Canyon.
The first stop on the south rim was Mather Point, where we spent one hour exploring the area. Depending on your guide, you may get to spend longer here.
The views from Mather Point are amazing. Those bright red and orange layers in the rock are just incredible to see.
BUT it gets extremely busy here, with tourists coming from far and wide to take pictures of the Grand Canyon and selfies.
The views of the Canyon will be of the northern section, but sadly it’s not possible to see the Colorado River below.
Take a short walk along the trails on the rim, but make sure you are back at the meeting point for your tour to take you to the next stop.
There are plenty of parking for you self-guided tours, with good facilities.
Learn more about Mather Point and the Grand Canyon at the visitor’s centre, stop for a snack in the café, or just make the most of the time at the Grand Canyon by exploring the rim.
Make your way back to you tour guide, who will now drop you off at the next point on your day trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
The second point on our trip to the Grand Canyon was Bright Angel. Only a short journey, but we got to spend the longest time here with one hour thirty minutes.
A slightly different view of the Grand Canyon from the previous point at Mather point. But those deep colours still resonate through the rock.
Since you have a bit longer here, take this time to explore more of the south rim. Walk a short distance of the Bright Angel trail. But always check the time and make sure your back at the bus in time. The tour guides are on a tight schedule, so if you get late, they will leave without you.
If you’re on a self-guided tour, you could easily do a day hike along the Bright Angel Trail. Get there very early to hike the trail in daylight.
When we return to the Grand Canyon, we will definitely hike the Bright Angel Trail.
Facilities are available, including toilets and a small café.
Return to the bus, to be taken back to your hotel.
Relax on the five-hour long bus ride back to Las Vegas.
We share our tips we learnt from our visit to the Grand Canyon on a day trip from Las Vegas, so you can ensure you plan the best adventure:
Pack plenty of snacks for the day and some for emergencies.
You are likely to get hungry so you will need them
Also pack plenty of water, plus some for emergencies.
Water is so important no matter the weather conditions, as you should maintain hydration at all times.
Make sure you have packed plenty of water which can be filled at certain points along the way.
Facilities are available at certain points along the rim. We stopped at Mather Point and Bright Angel and both have good facilities.
There’re toilets, a café and water refill fountains.
Good size parking is available at both points along the route, for those driving.
Wear appropriate clothing and apply sun protection regularly.
Due to the exposed area with little shade, even if the conditions are cool, you could still burn. Apply sun protection on a regular basis to prevent burning.
Even if it is a cloudy day, you could still burn.
Wear loose clothing but bring layers, for the cooler climates.
Take things easy
What we mean by this, is the higher the elevation the thinner the air.
Thinner air can cause shortness of breath, even for the fittest of people.
Try not to overexert yourself to prevent breathing problems.
Make the most of the Grand Canyon
Explore as much of the region as possible, within the limits of time. You may not get to come back here again or for some time.
Plan your trip in advance to make the most of the Grand Canyon.
You won’t be disappointed.
Make the most of your trip to Las Vegas, by taking a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Oh, this means you’ll have less time gambling and partying, but the Grand Canyon is definitely worth getting away from the hustle and bustle, by taking on a more relaxed approach.
Enjoy the scenery that this wonderful place offers. Just think, this natural creation has been around for millions of years.
In our experience, a guided tour is definitely worth it if you are a first timer to the Grand Canyon. If you plan in advance, you could easily visit on a self-guided tour, which is something we will be doing the next time we visit Las Vegas.
Once you have visited Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, you’ll be wanting to come back. We certainly do.
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Have you visited the Grand Canyon? Did you take a guided tour, or did you plan a self-guided tour? Which rim did you visit? Would you return to the Grand Canyon again? Do you have any recommendations for a day trip to the Grand Canyon that we haven’t mentioned? Leave your feedback below.
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