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Are Grand Canyon Bus Tours Worth It?

Last Update on September 29, 2022
by Sunny Samaroo
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The Grand Canyon is arguably the most popular and most beautiful canyon in the world, with its colorful rock layers that display millions of years of history. Even when it comes to such a magnificent attraction, you want to make sure you're visiting in the smartest way you can.

If you’re planning your trip to the Grand Canyon and are trying to maximize your time and budget without compromising the experience, you might be considering bus tours. There are a few things to know before making the decision.

Van Driving to Grand Canyon
Small-group bus tours are one of the most popular types of Grand Canyon tours.

Where Is the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is a large canyon in the Colorado Plateau in Arizona. It has three distinct rims that people visit: the South Rim, the North Rim, and the West Rim.

The South Rim is the most popular of the three rims. In general, when people talk about visiting the Grand Canyon, they're talking about the Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim.

How Far Is the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, Nevada?

Las Vegas is by far the most popular starting point for trips to the Grand Canyon. The distance from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon National Park is roughly 275 miles (440 kilometers), which takes about 4.5 hours to cover.

The distance to the North Rim is similar, approximately 260 mi (420 km). It also takes about the same time: 4.5 hours.

The West Rim is much closer. The distance from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon West Rim is about 130 mi (210 km). The drive time is typically in the 2-hour range.

How Far Is the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, Arizona?

Another common place to start a trip to the Grand Canyon is Phoenix, Arizona. The drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon National Park takes about 3.5–4 hours, covering roughly 230 mi (370 km).

That's an improvement over the distance from Las Vegas, but the other rims are further. The distance from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon North Rim is a whopping 350 mi (about 560 km). That's an almost 6-hour drive!

The distance from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon West Rim is about 260 mi (420 km) and the drive time is about 4.5 hours.

View of Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is in the Colorado Plateau — the Colorado River runs through it.

Small-Group Bus Tour Versus Other Tours

There are many options available when planning a trip to the Grand Canyon. Aerial views are offered through plane tours, while boats are great for exploring the canyon floor. However, both of these options can be expensive. On the other hand, bus tours are more affordable and perfect for indulging in the vast, scenic area.

Large bus tours move slowly, as they need to manage the movements and needs of fifty or so passengers. Needless to say, the size of the bus can also make it more challenging to traverse the area. Small-group Grand Canyon bus tours with just a dozen or so passengers are not only more convenient but can also be a more meaningful and personal experience.

What Do I Get Out of a Grand Canyon Bus Tour?

Exclusive Experiences

When you book a small-group bus tour, your memorable trip starts when they pick you up at the hotel where you’re staying. Some tours have pickups scheduled as early as 5 am for morning people, and others are as late as 9 am if you're not a fan of waking up at the crack of dawn. 

Small-group tours typically use SUVs, Jeeps, or touring vans that hold a maximum of 14 passengers. These ensure shorter waiting times during pick up, drop off, photo sessions, and rest stops. 

With a small group setup, you get to enjoy exclusive experiences by exploring hidden scenic spots that large buses can’t get to. In addition, you can meet new friends and share unforgettable experiences with them. 

Five-Star Quality Service

Your adventure will be thoroughly planned to maximize your time at the Grand Canyon, following a comprehensive itinerary where you will see more in less time. 

If you’re looking for a stress-free tour where you can just enjoy the majestic views, then small-group tours are made for you. Food and snacks are available throughout the trip to keep your energy up, too.

Professional and Friendly Tour Guides

MaxTour guides know the best spots to take photos, and they are great photographers themselves. More importantly, they are skilled drivers who will get you through the terrain safely while offering their knowledge about the area

Nothing is better than feeling comfortable and knowing there’s someone nearby whom you can ask endless questions about the Grand Canyon. 

Efficient Travel

Because professional bus tour guides travel the route and visit the Grand Canyon on a regular basis, they know the most time-efficient ways to go about the trip. 

Even a Grand Canyon half-day tour is possible, as well as a 2-day Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon tour that gives you ample time to explore both attractions.

Man at Grand Canyon
Your Grand Canyon tour guide will help you get the best photos.

Other Ways to Get to the Grand Canyon

Renting a Car

It's a long drive — 4.5 hours — but lots of people rent a car and drive themselves to the Grand Canyon. By doing this, you get to take things at your own pace. You also have the freedom to take as many or as few stops as you'd like

The two biggest cons, however, are that you may get tired of driving (keep in mind you'll also have to drive back) and that some people find it daunting to take on a long road trip like this in unfamiliar territory.

Related Reading: How to Tour the Grand Canyon by Car 

Taking a Flight

You can also shorten your travel time with this alternative option: taking a flight. The closest airport to the Grand Canyon is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG). It's in the town of Flagstaff in Arizona and is roughly 85 mi (137 km) from the Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim.

However, Flagstaff Pulliam Airport surprisingly doesn't receive direct flights from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. It's a bummer, especially considering how many people visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. You can still fly there, but you'll have a stopover in Phoenix.

The only two cities from which you can get a direct flight to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport are Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth.

Plane at Harry Reid International Airport
Flying into Grand Canyon is usually only the more convenient option if you're in Phoenix.


You can get your money’s worth and save time on your Grand Canyon adventure by choosing to book a bus tour. 

Small-group bus tours in particular are a good choice when it comes to getting an exclusive yet efficient trip. The small-group setup makes it more manageable and hassle-free, allowing you to get the most out of this unforgettable adventure.

Wondering if you should get a private tour to the Grand Canyon instead? We'll help you decide!


Sunny Samaroo

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