The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular natural attractions in the US. The Grand Canyon is expansive at 18 miles wide and 277 miles long, with entry points at the canyon's north, east, south, and west sides. With such a varied landscape, how to decide which side of the Grand Canyon is the best to visit? Luckily we send tens of thousands of people to the Grand Canyon every year on our Grand Canyon Tours from Las Vegas, and here is what we think.
Short Answer: The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the best side to visit
Long Answer: There is a lot to see at the Grand Canyon, and the best side depends on your particular circumstances.
The Case for the South Rim as The Best Side
If you are only visiting one rim of the Grand Canyon, make it the South Rim. The South Rim is located inside Grand Canyon National Park and offers the best views, best hiking, best activities, and best lodging at the Grand Canyon.
The views at the South Rim are literally breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles in each direction and you can really take in and feel the width and depth of the canyon at the South Rim. The colors of the canyon are striking, and this of course leads to photos that pop. If you have ever seen a photo of the Grand Canyon, there is a very high chance that that photo was taken at the South Rim.
On our tours, travelers always say the same thing while looking back at their photos: The photos don't do it justice! To really feel the width and the history of hundreds of millions of years of geologic forces, you have to see it for yourself. By far the best place to view the Grand Canyon is the South Rim.
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Hiking at the South Rim
Not only does the South Rim have the best views, but it also has the best hikes. You can take anything from a 30-minute paved trail along the Rim to a 14-hour trek to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. It is safe to say that if you want to hike at the Grand Canyon, the South Rim is the best side for you.
Activities At the South Rim
If you are looking for fun and adventure, the South Rim is also the place for you. The South Rim has it all, and therefore is the best side to visit at the Grand Canyon. Some of our favorite activities at the South Rim include helicopter rides, bike rides, hiking, train rides, skydiving, sunset/sunrise viewing, wildlife viewing, and more! If you are looking for an action-filled Grand Canyon trip, the South Rim can't be beaten.
Lodging/Dining at the South Rim
Not only does the South Rim have the best views, best hiking, and best activities, it also has the best lodging and dining? Are you starting to see why we consider the South Rim the best side?
When lodging at the South Rim, there are 4 lodges inside the park, many motels and hotels just outside the park in Tusayan, and hundreds of more affordable options about an hour away in Flagstaff and Williams. All of these places also have multiple options for dining.
The Case For the West Rim
The case for the West Rim boils down to two factors: Are you visiting from Las Vegas and short on time? And do you have to try the Grand Canyon Skywalk? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then the West Rim could be the best side for you to visit. Let's be clear though, the West Rim's views do not compare to those at the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon West Rim is only a little bit more than 2 hours from Las Vegas, making it an easy day trip for visitors to Sin City. If you want to check the Grand Canyon off of your bucket list on your next Vegas vacation, you could make the 4.5 hour drive out to the South Rim, or join one of the many bus tours that go out there. For most people though, that is too long and they instead opt for a trip to the West Rim. Note that the West Rim is quite a bit more expensive than the South Rim. Tickets are going to be $80+ for entrance and a Skywalk ticket. The South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park is only $35 per car and is good for 7 days.
Once at the West Rim, you will have the opportunity to walk out on the glass bridge that sticks out over the Grand Canyon: the Skywalk. This attraction can only be found at the West Rim, so if it is a must-see for you, the West Rim should be the side you choose
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The Case For The North Rim
If you are the type of traveler that tries to avoid crowds at all costs, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is for you.
Only open from May until October, the North Rim, like the South Rim, is located in the Grand Canyon National Park. It boasts many of the same view but only gets 10% of the visitors that the South Rim gets every year. There are some good hiking trails, and amazing views, but not many activities. The views are comparable to those at the South Rim.
The Case For The East Rim
Let's be clear: For most travelers, there are not any views of the Grand Canyon available at the East Rim. What is generally considered to be the East Rim contains Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, two ca n't-miss destinations, but they both fall outside the Grand Canyon. Please take the time to visit the East Rim, but don't make it the only rim that you visit or you will be missing the Grand Canyon.
The South Rim is the choice for visitors looking for the classic Grand Canyon experience. It has the best views, the best transportation, the best tours, the best activities, and the best lodging and dining. If you want an easy way to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, the West Rim is a good option, and if you want to experience the Grand Canyon without those pesky crowds, the North Rim should be your choice.