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Taking a trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas doesn’t need to be a long, drawn-out trip. There are options to get you up to the Grand Canyon for a day of exploring and back to Las Vegas for a night of fun.

There are 3 different rims that you can visit at the Grand Canyon: North Rim (269 miles from Las Vegas), South Rim (278 miles from Las Vegas), and the West Rim (125 miles from Las Vegas). Obviously, if you are trying to make your trip to the Grand Canyon short, the West Rim is the way to go. With only two major stops to visit, the West rim makes for a great quick visit. All major sites can be seen within 2 hours.

When talking about tours to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, there are 3 main categories of tours: Bus Tours, Small Group/Van Tours, and Air Tours. The price and length can vary greatly among these different types of tours.

Shortest Grand Canyon Small Group Tours From Las Vegas

In between cheap bus tours and pricey air tours, there lie small group tours. These tours use SUVs, Jeeps, or touring vans and are usually limited to no more than 14 people. These smaller groups help keep the tour more quick and nimble, photo stops or rest stops can go much faster with 13 instead of 55 people.  Here are your best options:

Grand Canyon VIP Half-Day Tour

Price: $159

Duration: 9 Hours

While this tour has half-day in the title, it is more like a full day with a late start. All in all, though, this looks is an amazing package and a great value. Direct hotel pickup is included, plus a photo stop at the Hoover Dam. The VIP refers to the Grand Canyon portion of the tour, instead of being forced to use the park’s shuttles to get around, you will stay on your tour van and be guided to the different stops.  This tour also leaves later than almost any other, with an 10 AM Departure. For more in-depth small group tours that leave earlier, see more Grand Canyon tours here.

Small Group Tours Give You More Stops In Less Time

Shortest Grand Canyon Bus Tours From Las Vegas

In general, a bus tour isn’t the way to go to the Grand Canyon if you are trying to make your trip quick. Buses not only move slowly but they are loaded with 50+ people, which makes every stop extremely slow as you wait on everyone to get on and off and get on with their business. Bus tours are notoriously slow during the pickup process as well, having to go around and pick up 50 people, or having to switch busses at a central processing station.  That being said, bus tours have one huge advantage: price. Many times you can find tours for less than $90, which is an outstanding deal. So if you are looking for a budget tour to the Grand Canyon that doesn’t take the whole day, here are your best options:

Absolute Shortest Bus Tour

Grand Canyon West Sunset Tour

Price: $149

Time: 7 Hours

Clocking in at 7 hours, this is one of the shortest tours to see the Grand Canyon if you are limited on time and budget. With 5.25 hours of driving, you will have 1.75 hours to explore the Grand Canyon, which is just enough to check this wonder of the natural world off of your bucket list. As the latest tour to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, this could also be a good option for anyone who is planning an especially late night the night before their tour.

Grand Canyon West Shortest Tour
Sunest At The Grand Canyon

A Cheaper Short Bus Tour

Grand Canyon West Rim With Hoover Dam Photo Stop From Las Vegas

Price: $97

Duration: 10.5 Hours

While it is hard to classify a tour lasting more than 10 hours as “short”, this is the shortest budget tour to see the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. If your two biggest requirements are time and cost, this is the way to go.

Shortest Grand Canyon Air Tours from Las Vegas

If you are really short on time and your budget is not a limiting factor, this is the way to go! These airplane and helicopter tours will pick you up at your Las Vegas hotel and take you to the nearby airport, where you will board your aircraft for your flight to the Grand Canyon. There are many different ways to see the canyon from the air, here are the shortest ones in three different categories.

Shortest Fly Over the Grand Canyon Tour

Grand Canyon West Rim Luxury Helicopter Tour

Price: $399

Duration: 3 Hours

This tour clocks in as the absolutely shortest trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. At only 3 hours total, you can fit it in in only half a day. And the trip is amazing, getting to see Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, plus flying over the Grand Canyon for 30 miles! This tour departs from the main Las Vegas airport, which is next to the Las Vegas Strip, so you won’t waste precious time on transfers to further airports like some other air tours.

Grand Canyon Short Helicopter Tour
See the Hoover Dam on the way to the Grand Canyon

Shortest Land On The Floor Grand Canyon Tour

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour from Las Vegas with Champagne & Light Picnic

Price: $499

Duration: 3.5 Hours-4 Hours

Another quick and easy way to see the Grand Canyon, this one ups the ante with a landing and picnic on the floor of the Grand Canyon! This tour uses sleek aircraft and looks like a solid option for travelers short on time.

Shortest Grand Canyon Skywalk Tour

Grand Canyon Helicopter and Eagle Point Rim Landing Tour

Price: $532

Duration: 4.5 hours.

This tour gives you a similar expereince as the bus and van tours, minus the whole day sitting in a bus or van! Fly up to the Grand Canyon, where your pilot will land and give you a chance to walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon and go out on the Skywalk for an additional charge. A great option to see the Skwwalk without spending too much time doing it.

Shortest Grand Canyon National Park Tour from Las Vegas

Grand Canyon South Rim Air and Ground Tour from Las Vegas

Price: $549

Duration: 9.5 hours

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is a 5 hour drive from Las Vegas, making any ground-tour out there at least a 15 hour day. Trying to avoid that drive? This tour is the answer. An airplane flight from Boulder City to the Grand Canyon National Park Airport is followed by a hummer tour of some of the most majestic points at the South Rim. 

Shortest Grand Canyon National Park Tour from Las Vegas
The view of the Grand Canyon from the air!

Bottom Line

There are many options to get you out to the Grand Canyon and back quickly. The fastest options are via helicopter but come with a steep price tag. For a more affordable and longer option, try a small group tour to maximize your time and your budget. 

The Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon are two must-visit destinations for any traveler to Las Vegas and the American Southwest.

The thing about traveling the American Southwest is that the distances are vast. To get to Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas is 5 hours, and the Grand Canyon is over a 2-hour drive from Antelope Canyon. That's saying nothing about Horseshoe Bend, which isn't far but adds precious time to your day.

Horseshoe Bend One Day Tour from Las Vegas
Who would want to miss this?!

Despite these long distances, many travelers with limited time like to ask us: Can I visit Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon in one day?

Quick Answer: Yes, you can visit Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon in a day.

Detailed answer: There are 24 hours in a day, which leaves a lot of time for traveling. However, because of the long driving time between the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon, we highly discourage trying to see both in one day from Las Vegas. If you are staying in Flagstaff, Page, Kanab, or at the Grand Canyon, you can easily see both of them in one day. 

Related Reading: Grand Canyon vs Antelope Canyon: How To Choose Between These Two Iconic Destinations

What About A Tour To See Grand Canyon South Rim, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend in One Day?

There are a few new tours offering to take travelers to these three places in one (long) day.

The main reason these tours should think twice about attempting such a tour (besides the fact that you have to depart at 1:30 AM) is that they don't specify which section of Antelope Canyon they take you to, and actually take guests to smaller, shorter, cheaper slot canyons in the area, not the famous Upper or Lower Canyon.

If you are trying to visit Antelope Canyon, there really is no substitute for Upper and Lower, despite what you may read.

Don't be like this poor fellow:

Upper Or Lower Antelope Canyon

How to See The Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon In One Day

Antelope Canyon vs Grand Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon is not to be missed!

We don’t recommend you try to see both of these wonders in one day from Las Vegas, but we know there are some determined travelers who are going to give it a shot. Here is how we would advise them to plan for their trip.

Itinerary:

Depart Las Vegas

Antelope Canyon

Horseshoe Bend

Grand Canyon South Rim

Return 

You will need a rental car and a minimum of 2 drivers. If you attempt to do all the driving listed below yourself, you are putting all the passengers in your car in danger. Seriously, don’t attempt to see Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon in one day if you only have one driver. 

Long before you depart you need to arrange your Antelope Canyon Tickets.

Related Reading: What To Do If All the Antelope Canyon Tickets Are Sold Out

Try to book your Antelope Canyon time for as early as you can get there. 9 AM is a colorful time to visit Lower Antelope Canyon and would give you time to see the rest of the sights on this exhausting day. 

Taken By The Author at 8:34 AM!

Have your rental car ready, and stock up on drinks, snacks, and pre-made food so you can keep stops to a minimum during your mad dash through the desert.

Related Reading: What To See On The Drive from Las Vegas to Page, AZ

If you got Antelope Canyon tickets at 9 AM, you will need to leave no later than 3 AM. This should get you to Antelope Canyon in time for your tour.

After touring Antelope Canyon, you should have time for a quick hike out to Horseshoe Bend. 

Be Careful Near The Edge at Horseshoe Bend!

After Horseshoe Bend, make a straight line for the East Entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park. You will have a few hours here to explore, recommended stops are Moran Point, Mather Point, and the Rim View Trail

Yavapai Point
Yavapai Point on the Rim View Trail is a must-see

Stay at the Grand Canyon as long as you dare, because it is close to 5 more hours to drive back to Las Vegas. 

Recommended stops on the way back include Williams, Seligman, and Kingman.

If you want to fit in all the above in one day, you can hopefully make it to Las Vegas before midnight. All in all, it will take around 20 hours to do the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon in one day. 

What About Lake Powell?

Another stop that really shouldn't be missed is Lake Powell.

Checking Lake Powell off of your list can be an easy 20 minute stop at Waeweap Overlook, or as long as a 5 hour cruise around the Lake.

Lake Powell

A Better Plan: A 2 Day Road Trip To Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon

A much better alternative to the above sleep-deprived dash through the desert is to spend an extra day and stay overnight in Arizona before coming back to Las Vegas. Be aware that spending two days to see them is still going to put you on a tight schedule, you will get up early, get in late, and have a lot of driving to do.

Because of the threat of large animals on the road, it is best to avoid driving at night. Here is our preferred itinerary for a two-day trip to these locations.

You are probably reading this because you want to see the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon but you have little time.  With that in mind, the more time you can take to visit these destinations, the better. Adding a third day to your travels will allow you to see more iconic scenery like Monument Valley or Bryce Canyon National Park. 

If the above sounds like too much work or too much planning, we offer One Day Tours, 2 Day Tours, and 3 Day Tours that cover the above itineraries, including guaranteed entrance into Lower Antelope Canyon on all of our tours.

Bottom Line

You can see the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon in one day, but you might not enjoy it, and at worst you might put yourself in danger.

Do yourself and your traveling partners a favor and take more time to enjoy your trip to these two breathtaking destinations.

 

As one of the most visited national parks in the United States, just the name “Grand Canyon” brings to mind scenes from movies , sweeping photographs, and travel stories from relatives who have visited America’s deepest and largest canyon.

With all the hype floating around the Grand Canyon, and with the rise of “Instagram-tourism” and un-vetted information sources, it can be hard to pin down exactly why the Grand Canyon is so important. After all, the Grand Canyon is not the largest canyon in the world in terms of either depth or distance. Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo and Pakistan’s Indus Gorge are the two largest gorges in the world, but it’s rare to find anybody who has even heard of those.  Here is what makes the Grand Canyon truly important.

1. It is Important To Native Americans

11 Native American tribes maintain deep connections with the Canyon, and have been farming, building houses, hunting, and living along the rims since what they consider the beginning of time. The connections with the Grand Canyon have woven themselves into many tribes’ creation stories and tales of heaven and hell. They say the Colorado River at the base of the canyon to be a spiritual place to wash away troubles and burdens. 

Travelers to the canyon should know that the Canyon is not just a park, but is a place, for many Native Americans, of deep historical and spiritual connection. 

2. The Grand Canyon is Important for American History

“You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.”

Teddy Roosevelt

From its origins, people sought to use the canyon for many purposes, but thanks to this American success story, the Grand Canyon remains largely unscarred. 

Many of the early visitors to the Grand Canyon had big ideas of how to make it profitable. From a failed mining experiment to placing hotels on the rim, the Grand Canyon was headed in a direction very different from the one we see today. Fortunately, another early visitor was Teddy Roosevelt, who immediately had a great admiration for the Grand Canyon, later stating, “You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.” 

With this in mind, Roosevelt took action, and made the Grand Canyon a national monument, and eventually the National Park we know today.  They tore down standing lodges and structures on the rim, and made it so that the Grand Canyon could be as close to its natural state as possible.

Thanks to his foresight, the Grand Canyon now stands as a symbol of the great expanses of the Western United States. As the only American representation of the Seven Wonders of the Natural Word and a UNESCO National Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon is a towering American icon known around the world. 

3. The Grand Canyon is Important for Local Communities

We know Arizona as the Grand Canyon State, and visitors to the Grand Canyon helped make Tourism the number one export industry in the state during 2019. In 2019, tourists in Arizona contributed $3.8 billion dollars in taxes alone.  

Given the size of the Grand Canyon, and being the second most visited national park in the United States, it isn’t hard to imagine how the Canyon benefits its surrounding communities. A national park service report showed that over 6.2 million recreational visitors came to Grand Canyon National Park in 2018 and spent $667 million in communities around the park (Williams, Tusayan, Cameron, etc.).

This spending supported over 9,000 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $938 million. And that report isn’t including the west rim of the canyon where the Hualapai people have also turned to tourism through their native land. Through Grand Canyon tours and permits, the Hualapai tribe relies almost entirely on the canyon for its livelihood.

There is another tribes that own part of the canyon, and It is said that the Havasupai tribe issues roughly 350 camping permits daily, with permits selling out within months of going on sale. That’s nearly $18 million per year in tourism revenue on the low end just on camping permits! 

4. The Grand Canyon is Important for Wildlife 

There is much more wildlife at the Grand Canyon than you might think. Elk, lizards, brown bats, squirrels and many bird species are just some animals you’re going to run into on your next trip to the canyon. There are some rather special species that rely on the canyon entirely, however. The California Condor, North America’s largest bird with a 9 foot wingspan, almost became extinct in the 20th century and they placed the rare bird on the federal Endangered Species list in 1967. Following a breeding program that began in 1983, they released six young condors into the wild just north of Grand Canyon in 1996. 

The re-introduction program was a great success, with 71 condors recently counted in the Grand Canyon region and 195 birds in the wild in the United States. Another animal that relies on the Grand Canyon also holds a title of “largest”. It is the largest land-mammal in North America, the American Bison. After being herded down from the north in the early 1900s, the Bison found a place they could call home on the north rim of the canyon where, strangely enough, there are vast grasslands and forest perfect for the bison. The bison rely on the canyon as their little oasis surrounded by desert .

Related Reading: 5 Amazing Facts About the Grand Canyon (Will #1 Gross You Out?!)

5. The Grand Canyon is Important to Geologists

The rocks themselves at the grand canyon are not necessarily unique, as they can be found all throughout the southwest. 

However, there are two other aspects of the canyon that make the Grand Canyon such an important place for geological studies.

The first is the sequence of the rocks along the canyon walls. It is rare to find such a large column of rock that has been preserved so clearly and as well as the Grand Canyon. This makes the canyon one of the best places to study geology, as scientists can literally study millions of years of the earth’s history from a single spot! In this sequence also lies one of geology’s largest puzzles. Geologists have been able to figure out a clear bottom column of rock (deposited around 2000 million years ago) and a much younger, top column ranging from 550 to 250 million years ago. The middle portion of rock, to the surprise of many geologists, is missing! This is known as the great unconformity and there is constant debate among geologists about the whereabouts of the missing rock. 

A second mystery worthy of study is the formation of the Grand Canyon itself. It is generally accepted by scientists around the world that the Colorado river carved the canyon we see today. To what degree the river did the job, though, is still debated upon. Could it be that the rain, snow, and wind itself tore the canyon apart faster than the river itself? The answer is unclear. 

Grand Canyon USA is without a doubt one of the most iconic places in the world not only for the one-of-a-kind vistas, but also its activities for travellers of all ages and of all interests. From hikers to instagramers, kayakers to glampers, the Grand Canyon has just about everything to make for a life-changing experience.

So, are you planning a trip and wondering what to do at the Grand Canyon? Here is a complete rundown of things to do at the Grand Canyon for your style and budget. 

Hiking at the Grand Canyon 

Hiking at the Grand Canyon

Hiking down the Grand Canyon is almost certainly on the bucket list of every adventure seeker and avid hiker out there. Unfortunately, poor planning and unfamiliarity with the Grand Canyon hiking trails can lead to disaster, and lead to the over 250 hikers that require rescuing from the trails each year. 

Depending on how much time you have to spend, there are hike options that take less than an hour all the way up to a 3 day rim to rim hike. 

For simple hikes, there are several trails that set out from the South Rim (Grand Canyon National Park) that are friendly for novice and intermediate hikers alike. The friendliest “hike” would be the Rim Trail that runs from Grand Canyon village to Hermits Rest.

The majority of the Rim Trail is flat and paved, and is accessible for children, wheelchairs, and those with mobility problems. This trail does not go into the canyon, but stays on the rim giving you great views of the canyon from above. 

Taking the Rim Trail from Mather point to Yavapai Point is always a great starting point, the shuttle access at these two points makes for convenient transportation. 

Grand Canyon Rim Trail
Views from the Rim Trail

For those looking for a bit more of a challenge, there are several other Grand Canyon day-hikes that you won’t want to miss.

Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit Trail, and Grandview Trail all give hikers access below the rim, and are only recommended for experienced hikers, as they are all steep to very steep, have varying conditions and little to no resources along the way.

These hikes range from 6 to 12 miles out and back. For less experienced hikers that still want a view of the canyon from below the rim, a hike for a mile, or as long as you feel comfortable, will give you a different perspective. Just remember that you will have to climb out the same way you came in.

Avoid hiking in the hottest summer months, bring lots of water, wear a hat and sunscreen, and take it slow climbing out.

Never hike into the canyon alone, and don’t count on having any cell phone service at any point along the trail. 

If you are an experienced hiker looking to get all the way down to the Colorado River, or even planning hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim, you will absolutely have to take more than a day (normally 2-3).

Please note that for any group looking to complete an extended rim-to-rim, or rim-to-rim-to-rim hike must first obtain a Special Use Permit from the Grand Canyon National Park.

Once you have your permit in-hand and are all prepared, there are several hiking trails that can bring you rim-to-rim, the most popular being the North Kaibab/Bright Angel trails.

Starting on the North Rim, you take the North Kaibab trail around 14 miles to the bottom of the canyon, where you meet up with the Bright Angel trail for your return journey.

Phantom Ranch Grand Canyon
Phantom Ranch at the Bottom of the Grand Canyon

Phantom Ranch is the one option for lodging on a several day hike, but the chances of booking a stay within a year is slim. Plan you trip far in advance, and center it around gaining access to Phantom Ranch. You can enter the lottery here. 

Grand Canyon Mule, Donkey, or Horse Rides 

Much like hiking, there are a few options when it comes to Grand Canyon donkey riding and horse riding.

Donkey rides in Grand Canyon National Park are only sanctioned by the Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, which means if you’re booking a Grand Canyon donkey tour you’ll have to head over to www.grandcanyonlodges.com, where you’ll find several options.

For those looking for a quick experience, a 2-hour rim vista ride would be best. Whereas for the more adventurous travelers with some extra budget, an overnight to phantom ranch at the bottom of the Canyon with a steak dinner waiting for you is a trip that will never be forgotten. As always with these longer trips, plan your visit far in advance to ensure availability. 

Grand Canyon Mule Rides
The view from on top of a donkey

For those looking for a Grand Canyon horseback riding experience or mule tours, both the south and north rims of Grand Canyon National Park are options.

For the South Rim, Apache Stables in Tusayan offers many horseback riding experiences both in and around the canyon, and for all budgets.

For Horseback Riding on the North Rim, head to canyonrides.com, where they offer Grand Canyon mule tours both around the rim or descending into the canyon. 

Ride a Train to The Grand Canyon

As one of the oldest national parks in America, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild with all of the well-documented history that the Grand Canyon has.

One way to truly immerse yourself into the canyon’s history is to ditch modern transportation, and take a train ride to the Grand Canyon. A Grand Canyon train vacation can fill you or your kids mind with wonder even before arriving at the park, as the ride is complete with wild west shootouts and old cowboy tunes played out live. 

Grand Canyon Train Rides
Grand Canyon Train With a Glass Roof

Those wishing to take the train ride to the Grand Canyon need to head to Williams, Arizona, an hour south of the South Rim, where they will find the Grand Canyon Train line.

Although there is an area you can purchase tickets in Williams, we recommend you head to thetrain.com where you can look through all of the different cabin options from coach class to the luxury parlor. 

If you happen to be visiting the Grand Canyon around Christmas time, you should definitely check out “The Polar Express”, Grand Canyon Railways annual holiday tradition where you can take the christmas-themed nighttime train ride through the snowy ponderosa pine forest that lines the track from Williams to the south rim. 

Grand Canyon Polar Express
Source: http://billontheroad.com/grand-canyon-railway/

The town of Williams also makes a great base for visiting the Grand Canyon, whether you are traveling by train or car. Williams is only an hour away and hosts a nice variety of hotels, shops, history, attractions, and restaurants.

The fact that you can take the train back and forth to the Grand Canyon every day only adds to the allure of staying in Williams. Most importantly for a lot of travelers, for much of the year, hotel prices in Williams will be more than half of what you would pay in or around the canyon. 

Related Reading: The 5 Best Restaurants in Williams, AZ

Grand Canyon Camping / RV Parks

There are only a handful of campsites at the Grand Canyon National Park that allow vehicles. For campsites that require access by foot, check out the Hiking in the Grand Canyon Section.

On the South rim, Mather and Desert View Campgrounds are open year-round. Desert View is first-come-first-serve, whereas you can make reservations in advance at Mather campground. These campgrounds are similar, but Desert View generally seems to be a bit less crowded than Mather. 

Camping At the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon campgrounds can also be found at the North Rim if you’re willing to take the long drive up north. The North Rim Campground is only open from May to October, but provides a bit more of a secluded Grand Canyon camping experience than the South Rim campgrounds. Note that none of these three campground options have RV hookups.

Reservations for these campgrounds can be made at https://www.recreation.gov/. Both Mather Campground and the North Rim Campground book up well in advance. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.

If you’re looking for Grand Canyon RV parks, Trailer Village is located in Grand Canyon Village and is the only option for rv camping inside Grand Canyon National Park.

Trailer Village patrons enjoy sweeping desert views on paved sites that can fit RVs up to 50 feet long. Grand Canyon RV camping at Trailer Village has full RV hookups, and best of all is open year-round! We suggest you book your spot early, as this is one of the most desirable RV parks in the entire country.

If you’re looking for alternative options, and are willing to distance yourself a bit more from the rim of the Grand Canyon, there are a slew of different camping and RV Park options in Tusayan, Williams, and Flagstaff.  

Grand Canyon River Rafting Trips

Rafting in the Grand Canyon

For below-the-rim experiences, perhaps none is as thrilling and as sought after as whitewater rafting. The first question you have to ask before delving into the many rafting options are the amount of time you have, and after that, the amount of thrill you’re seeking.

From experienced rafters to those looking for a quaint river cruise, rafters of all backgrounds can surely find something for them on the over 200 miles of canyon-bound river. 

For serious and experienced rafters looking to go down the river alone or with a private group, you must first get your hands on a Grand Canyon River Permit. Much like overnight hiking permits, rafting permits are given based on a lottery system, and can take lots of time to secure, so plan on applying well in advance. 

If you don’t have the necessary background, or don’t have time to wait for the Grand Canyon River Rafting permit, you’ll have to go down the river with one of sixteen “outfitters” that are approved by the GRCOA to take travelers down the river.

These companies offer an extremely wide variety of options, including different boat types (human-powered, motorized, traditional dorys), and different lengths of trip from over a week to a quick day trip.

If you have the time and budget, these guided outfitters are highly recommended for the experience of a lifetime. 

Grand Canyon Bike Rides

A great way to ditch the crowds is to hop on one of the many Grand Canyon bike trails. Bike riding trails at the Grand Canyon can be found all around the North and South Rims of the National Park.

Lodges and visitor centers are also very bicycle friendly with bike racks and biking supplies readily available. Please also keep in mind that the shuttles in the Grand Canyon are also capable of storing bikes.

To hop on the trails you’ll really only need one thing, a bike! If you plan on hitting the Grand Canyon bike trails on the North Rim, you should plan on bringing along your own bike, as bike rentals at the north rim are only supplied by third party lodges and vendors, and can be seasonal and overall unreliable for Grand Canyon visitors.

Fortunately, If you don’t plan on bringing along your own bike there are Grand Canyon bike rentals available at South Rim’s Bright Angel Bike Rentals near the Grand Canyon Visitor’s center at Mather point. Once you’re seated comfortably on your bicycle, it’s time to hit the trails! 

Grand Canyon Bike Rides
Rental Bikes at the South Rim

The most basic trails at the Grand Canyon are the Red, Yellow, and Orange trails. Each of these trails have spectacular views of the South Rim, but differ in length and difficulty. You can pick up a map of the trails here, or get a printed copy at the visitors center. Here are some details for the three trails;

Red Trail: An easy 1.5-2 hour ride with downhill or flat surfaces from Hopi Point to Hermits Rest. This trail is most suitable for families with children, or those short on time

Yellow Trail: A 2.5-6 hour ride can be done as a one way or a round trip and tends to be a longer, more strenuous trail with more gain and loss in elevation. This trail is best for those with plenty of time and in good biking shape.

Orange Trail: This trail is very similar to the Red Trail, but on the opposite side of the rim providing different views than the red trail. Able to be completed in 1-1.5 hours, this relatively flat trail is also suitable for children and those with limited time. 

For a bit more of a wild biking experience, the north rim provides less pavement and more forest lined paths for adventurous bikers. Bridle Path and Arizona Trail are the two recommended mountain biking trails on the North Rim, each with great vistas and exciting pathways, but Bridle Path’s 1.9 miles of trail are significantly shorter than Arizona Trail’s 12.1 miles. Point Imperial and Cape Royal trails, much like rim-to-rim hiking, are not recommended for anybody other than extremely experienced mountain bikers. 

Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The glass-bottomed walkway jutting out above the Grand Canyon is officially named the Grand Canyon Skywalk. It was built in 2007, and became extremely popular in 2015, when it received over a million visitors within the year. 

The Skywalk is located on the West Rim of the Canyon, owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe, and not affiliated with the Grand Canyon National Park. Since the West Rim is the closest to Las Vegas at just over 2 hours, it tends to be the most convenient and often-visited among Vegas visitors looking to get away from the strip. 

Once you’ve arrived at Grand Canyon West and get on the hop-on-hop-off shuttle at the park, You’ll have to get off at Eagle Point to get to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The Grand Canyon Skywalk cost is an additional $33, plus the $53 to enter the park.

Before you set out on the glass platform, you MUST wear protective shoe covers, and place all your loose belongings in a locker they provide for you. Yes, this includes all cell phones and cameras! Grand Canyon West employees will offer you professional photographs at the end of your time on the Skywalk for $16 for a single photo or $65 for the photo package. 

Despite the potential long lines and extra fee, standing on a glass platform suspended thousands of feet above one of the world’s seven wonders is truly an unforgettable experience. 

A great way to see the Skywalk is part of our Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam, Seven Magic Mountains Day Tour. 

Antelope Canyon Tours

Things to do at the Grand Canyon: Antelope Canyon
Lower Antelope Canyon

To be very clear, Antelope Canyon is not part of the Grand Canyon, however the canyon’s wondrous landscape extends well beyond the canyon limits. Antelope Canyon is a mere 2 hours from the South and North rim of the Grand Canyon, and as our longest serving tour guide lays out in this blog post, it is not to be missed. 

Antelope Canyon can be seen as a day trip from the Grand Canyon or as part of a longer southwest road trip. If you are short on time, see Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas on our two day tour. 

Related Reading: Lower vs Upper Antelope Canyon

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

Las Vegas Helicopter Tours and Grand Canyon Helicopter tours have rightly gained a reputation as one of the most unique and thrilling ways to experience the wonders of the southwest. Luckily, there are quite a few options for both location and type of tour. 

The Grand Canyon From the Air

The simplest and most budget-friendly way to experience the Grand Canyon by air is to head to the South Rim’s Grand Canyon National Park Airport, less than 10 miles from the entrance of the Park. This small airport is the launch point for Maverick Helicopters, Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines, and Papillon, which all provide Grand Canyon helicopter tours. Between these companies and their respective tours, you’ll have many options for the type of aircraft, and which parts of the grand canyon you would like to experience.  

This 25 minute tour from Papillion is very popular with tour operators from Las Vegas. It will get you in the air and give you a great view of the Grand Canyon. This tour can leave a bit to be desired though, after you spend a few minutes taking off, landing, and getting to a from the Grand Canyon, there isn’t much time to actually spend flying over the canyon. 

https://www.papillon.com/grand-canyon-national-park/helicopter-air-tours/north-canyon-tour

We always recommend our guests upgrade to a longer tour in a more modern aircraft. The following tour is our number one choice for helicopter rides at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  With a modern aircraft with better viewing windows and a longer flight time, it will be the experience of a lifetime.  https://www.papillon.com/grand-canyon-national-park/helicopter-air-tours/imperial-with-ecostar

If a trip from the Las Vegas area better suits your itinerary, you will have the chance to fly by the Las Vegas Strip and the Hoover Dam en-route to the Grand Canyon. Maverick Helicopters, GC Flight, and Sundance Helicopters are just a few of many aerial tour companies in the Las Vegas area that generally offer hotel pickups along with a variety of tour packages.

The benefits of leaving from Las Vegas is you have the opportunity to see the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam before, and if you have a bigger budget, you can even have the chance to land at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for a champagne picnic! 

Grand Canyon Sightseeing

Sightseeing at the Grand Canyon is one of the most rewarding activities, along with one of the cheapest!

Whether you are driving your own car, joining a Grand Canyon tour, or riding the convenient Grand Canyon shuttle, there will be dozens of sweeping scenic viewpoints to take in. The best rim for sightseeing is undoubtedly the South Rim. There are over 50 viewpoints at the South Rim, all of them accessible by car or shuttle bus. Here are our top 5 favorites:

Yavapai Point

Great for sunrise over the Grand Canyon in late spring, summer, and early fall. Also our favorite place to get your iconic sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon photo (safely of course!)

Pima Point

Accessible only via the red line of the Grand Canyon shuttle, Pima Point is the best stop along this red line, and offers one of the best views of the Grand Canyon. 

Mather Point

Mather point is the busiest viewpoint at the South Rim and one of the most spectacular. Jutting out on a rocky point, Mather has a sturdy railing around the entire point. This allows the less brave of us to get to peer into the depths of the canyon while not fearing a deadly fall.

Grandview Point

Grandview point not accessible via the shuttle system, you will need a car or a tour to reach it. The views are top notch at Grandview Point. You can also learn a bit of the area's history via the signboards explaining early tourism at the Grand Canyon and the Grandview Hotel that used to be on this spot. This is also the start of the Grandview trail, giving you the chance to walk down 5 or 10 minutes and see the Grand Canyon from the inside. It is 5 minutes down this trail where I took one of my favorite all time Grand Canyon photos:

Lipan Point

Less famous than the nearby Desert View, Lipan Point is one of the highest points at the Grand Canyon and our number one recommendation for sunsets. Parking can fill up quickly at sunset, make sure to get there early if trying to catch the sunset during the summer or holidays.

Sunset/Sunrise at The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Sunset
Sunset At The Grand Canyon

Sunset and sunrise are two absolutely spectacular times at the Grand Canyon. A perfect day at the Grand Canyon will start with a sunrise, followed by hiking and sightseeing, followed by a sunset. Here are our favorite spots for sunrise and sunset, ranked.

Sunrise:

1. Yavapai Point. (Note that the sunrise can’t be seen here from November until March)

2. Mather Point

3. Lipan Point

4. Grandview Point (Note: From November until March, this is the best option for seeing a sunrise)

Sunset:

1.  Lipan Point

2. Moran Point

3. Grandview Point

4. Mather Point

5. Pima Point

Skydiving at the Grand Canyon

If a helicopter ride over the canyon is too tame for you, there is a new option that is sure to up the stakes in your visit: Skydiving over the Grand Canyon!

A relatively recent activity to be added to the options at the Grand Canyon, first becoming available in 2016. 

Get in your aircraft and take around a 20 minute flight with magnificent views of the Grand Canyon.

Ascend to 16,000 feet above the canyon where you and your tandem skydiving instructor will do one last safety check and then help you leap out into the sky. You will free fall through the air, reaching a maximum speed of 136 miles per hour! Your instructor will smoothly deploy your parachute, giving you a chance to relax as you float through the air and soak in the views of the Grand Canyon! If you have been thinking of trying skydiving, doing it over the Grand Canyon is an excellent choice!

No matter which rim or how you experience it, the Grand Canyon is hands down one of the most  breathtaking natural wonders on our planet. Once you experience the sights, keep this list of things to do at the Grand Canyon in mind to bring your interaction with the sacred wonder to a whole new level!

Between the West, South and North rims there are no shortage of fun opportunities for all types of travelers to Grand Canyon USA. Aerial tours, skywalk, and river rafting for the thrill-seekers.

Hiking, biking, camping for the outdoor enthusiasts. Mule and donkey rides, train rides, and rv camping for families looking for a fun time. A truly life-changing Grand Canyon experience is waiting there for everybody! 

The Grand Canyon is the second most popular National Park in the United States and its physical area is massive, larger than the entire state of Rhode Island, or 3 times bigger than Singapore.

Most of the area inside the Grand Canyon is inaccessible by car, foot, or boat. Of the areas available to visit, the main ones are the West Rim, South Rim, and North Rim.

While these may sound vaguely similar, they have a lot of differences.

Considering the North Rim is closed half the year and is far off the tourist trail, we will focus on the difference between the Grand Canyon Canyon West Rim and the Grand Canyon South Rim. 

Where are the West and South Rim?

The West Rim is at the western edge of the Grand Canyon. About 2 hours from Las Vegas, the West Rim is the most easily accessible section of the Grand Canyon. The west rim is near the area where the Grand Canyon ends.

The South Rim is at the eastern edge of Grand Canyon National Park, near where the Grand Canyon begins.  It is far from all major urban centers, over 4 hours from Las Vegas, over 4 hours from Phoenix, and 2 hours from Flagstaff. 

It is called the South Rim because it composes the southern edge of the Grand Canyon.

How are they similar?

The West and South Rim are quite different but have a few similarities. The fundamental similarity is that they both have splendid views of the Grand Canyon. If it is your dream to visit the Grand Canyon and you want to check it off of your wish list, both sections will do that. 

Great Views at The West Rim

What are the differences?

Despite both sections offering views of different sections of the same canyon, there are countless differences between the West Rim and the South Rim. The major difference is:

Grand Canyon South Rim is part of Grand Canyon National Park, while the West Rim falls outside the park. The entrance fee is a sizable difference, it is $50 per person at the West Rim and $35 per car at the South Rim.

The activities offered at each location vary; the South Rim is best for sightseeing and hiking, while the West Rim is best for helicopter rides and walking on the Skywalk. 

Related Reading: Is Horseshoe Bend Part of the Grand Canyon? (It's Complicated)

How to Choose Between the West Rim and the South Rim

An Overview:

For hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, or getting iconic photographs of the Grand Canyon, the South Rim needs to be your destination. 

For helicopter rides, ziplines, walking on the canyon floor, walking above the canyon on the Skywalk, or taking a boat ride in the Colorado River, the West Rim is going to be your best bet. 

Whether you choose the West Rim or the South Rim, joining a tour to the Grand Canyon is a great way to relax and let the tour operator do all the work.

Grand Canyon South RimGrand Canyon West Rim
Distance from Las Vegas5 Hours2 Hours
ViewpointsAround 302
Best AttractionSweeping Grand Canyon ViewsThe Skywalk Glass Bridge
Annual Visitors5 Million2 Million
Cost$35 per vehicle, free with National Park Annual Pass$50 per person ($80 with Skywalk ticket)
HikingHike into the canyonWalk on the Skywalk
PhotographyGreat for catching the layers and colors of Grand CanyonNo cameras or phones allowed on the Skywalk
Visit with MaxTour2 Day Grand Canyon Antelope Canyon TourGrand Canyon West, Hoover Dam, Seven Magic Mountains Day Tour
CampingCamping inside the parkNo Camping allowed
LodgingInside the Park, also in nearby towns Tusayan, Williams, and FlagstaffGrand Canyon Western Ranch, but no towns nearby

To help you choose which one is best for you, try answering these questions. 

Where are you traveling from?

As we mentioned above, the Grand Canyon is a long drive no matter where you are coming from. If you are coming from Las Vegas and only have one day, the West Rim is an excellent choice.

If you are coming from Arizona, the South Rim is going to be closer. Anyone doing a longer road trip from California, Utah, or Arizona should stop for at least one day at the South Rim. 

How Long Do You Have to Spend at the Grand Canyon? 

If you have a few days to spend at the canyon, and you don’t mind a long drive, the South Rim is an excellent choice. If you only have one day from Las Vegas, a day trip to the West Rim is a good option.  

If you only have half a day and you are coming from Las Vegas, a helicopter tour or airplane tour are your only options. 

Related Reading: 5 Amazing Facts About The Grand Canyon (Will #1 Gross You Out?!)


If you have one day from Las Vegas, both the South Rim and the West Rim are accessible. If you are driving your own car in one day, don’t try to go all the way to the South Rim and back, choose the West Rim instead.  There are many affordable bus tours to the South Rim that will let you relax and they will do almost 10 hours of driving. 

What is your budget? 

How much you have to spend unfortunately drives many decisions when traveling, this is also the case at the Grand Canyon.  

If you are traveling on a tight budget, the South Rim should be your destination. For a $35 entrance fee per vehicle, you and a vehicle full of family or friends can see most of what the South Rim offers.  If you are looking for accommodation on a budget at the South Rim, check out nearby towns like Williams or Flagstaff and skip Tusayan, or even better grab a tent and do some camping. 

If you have a larger budget for your Grand Canyon trip, think about going to the West Rim. For an entrance ticket and a ticket for the Skywalk, the regular price is around $80 per person. There are plenty of other ways to part with your cash at the West Rim. A helicopter ride with a landing on the canyon floor and a boat ride down the Colorado River would be high on our list if budget isn't a hindrance. 

How badly do you want to see the Skywalk?

Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is one of the most iconic destinations at the Grand Canyon and it can only be found at the West Rim. lf checking the Skywalk off of your wish list is high on your list of things to do while in Vegas, you must visit the West Rim. 

Be aware that when visiting the Skywalk, you may not bring your phone or camera, as all belongings must be kept in a locker prior to stepping out onto the skywalk. Don’t think you are going to get great photos for your social media feed while on the Skywalk. They do have a professional photographer that will take photos for you to purchase.

Do you want to do some hiking?

Hiking at the Grand Canyon

There is not any real hiking at the West Rim, so if you want to do some, the South Rim is where it’s at. With dozens of trails of all difficulty levels, hikers of all abilities will find some of the best trails and vistas in the United States at the South Rim. 

Do you want to see the iconic Grand Canyon?

Iconic Grand Cayon

When you see photos of the Grand Canyon, they take all of them from the South Rim. If you want to see the iconic section of the canyon, you need to go to the South Rim. The South Rim has the best views of the Grand Canyon and the best photo opportunities. 

Do you want to do some camping?

They only allow camping at the South Rim, if you want to do some camping you need to go there and book far in advance, campsites inside the park sell out early. Pack warm, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is almost 8,000 feet of elevation and it gets cold at night, even in the winter. 

Do you want to see wildlife?

There isn’t much wildlife at either rim of the Grand Canyon, however, you can see some at the South Rim. Elk, deer, eagles, ravens, and the occasional coyote are what we mostly encounter at the South Rim. The South Rim is also in a beautiful forest, making it a pleasant break from the surrounding desert.  

There is very little in the way of trees or wildlife at the West Rim.

In The End

In the end you can’t go wrong when choosing between the Grand Canyon West and South Rim. If the pressure was on and we had to choose, we would choose the South Rim for its sweeping vistas and colorful landscape.

That being said, we have had many guests join us on our 2 Day Grand Canyon Antelope Canyon Tour that goes to the South Rim and they wanted to know when we were going to the Skywalk. To say they were disappointed to learn that we would be skipping the skywalk is an understatement. If this is you, and you want to feel your knees shake as you step out on glass over a 4000-foot drop, the West Rim is for you. 

The Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon are always high on the list of adventure travelers to the Southwest. Both of them are can’t miss destinations, however, sometimes time is limited and you can only see one.

This can lead to an agonizing choice: Grand Canyon or Antelope Canyon, which one to visit if you only have one day?

I have led over 5,000 travelers on our 2 Day Grand Canyon Antelope Canyon tour, and have had the chance to talk to them after the tour about which one of these canyons they preferred, giving us a wealth of insight into this difficult question: Which is better: Antelope Canyon or the Grand Canyon? Here is what those travelers told me. 

If You Only Have One Day, Visit Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon vs Grand Canyon
Looking up in Lower Antelope Canyon

By a wide margin, the travelers on my tours have preferred their tour to Antelope Canyon over their tour to the Grand Canyon. They said this in the reviews they wrote for their trip; they told me this when asked about their favorite part of the tour, and I could feel a higher level of excitement from our group when they got back from Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon Wins All Around

The guests on my tours not only preferred Antelope Canyon to the Grand Canyon, many of them preferred Antelope Canyon to every other place they have ever traveled in the world. We get some very well traveled guests on our tours, and to hear this kind of praise from them really shows how special a trip to Antelope Canyon is. 

Having heard repeatedly: “That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen” gives me the confidence to recommend Antelope Canyon over the Grand Canyon. It’s a recommendation that I have been reluctant to make because...

The Grand Canyon is Amazing

Grand Canyon vs Antelope Canyon
Photographing the sunset on our 2 Day Grand Canyon Tour

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular and iconic destinations in the United States. It is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and the 2nd most popular national park in the United States

While most of the travelers on my trips preferred Antelope Canyon over the Grand Canyon, they still LOVED the Grand Canyon!

You can spend more time at the Grand Canyon than Antelope Canyon, the vistas are wider at the Grand Canyon, and the sense of wonder, geology, and the long passage of time make any trip to the Grand Canyon special.  

Who Would Prefer The Grand Canyon?

My recommendation of Antelope Canyon over the Grand Canyon isn’t for everyone. 

If you are staying in Flagstaff, a trip to the Grand Canyon will be more appealing than it would be for visitors from Las Vegas or Phoenix.

A trip to Antelope Canyon only takes about an hour, and while there are other things to do in the area like Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell, it can’t fill up an entire day in the same way the Grand Canyon can. A quick drive up from Flagstaff would give you all day to explore the Grand Canyon. 

Hiking at the Grand Canyon
Hiking at the Grand Canyon

Serious hikers would also get more value out of a trip to the Grand Canyon. There are dozens of trails that lead down into the Grand Canyon that will give you a bit of solitude and a fresh perspective of the canyon versus standing on the edge and peering down.

If you love hiking, you may want to choose a trip to the Grand Canyon over a trip to Antelope Canyon. 

No Wrong Answers

The glorious thing about choosing between a trip to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon is that there is not a wrong answer. Both are world-class destinations and you will have a great time no matter which one you choose. 

If you only have time for one though, I recommend a trip to Antelope Canyon. 

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