|The Grand Canyon is up to 18 miles long in some areas. After a day or so in Vegas it is easy to forget that, for all the amazing buildings, people still don’t have much on nature when it comes to architecture.
Most of the incredible attraction is within the Grand Canyon National Park, which is one of the first National Parks in the US - named such by Theodore Roosevelt who was known to visit it on a regular basis.
Getting there is easy by road or air. Driving takes approximately 4 hours (5 in heavy traffic). On the way you will cross a true marvel of human ingenuity, the Hoover Dam, or take the recently constructed by-pass bridge, dubbed the Tillman Memorial Bridge – another amazing structure. Most on their way to the Grand Canyon from Vegas for the first time do stop by the Hoover Dam, which you will see clearly from the traffic.
Where to Go When You Visit the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is huge, and a complete tour of all of the sites can take a couple of days. Some of most popular destinations include the South Rim, North Rim, West and East Rim, Havasupai Waterfalls, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk (Which is part of the West Rim).
This is a bit further if you are coming from Vegas, but this part of the Grand Canyon offers several vantage points accessible by car and has the Canyon View Information Plaza where you can find everything you want to know about the Grand Canyon. The park also offers a free shuttle bus to areas which cannot be accessed by public traffic for much of the year. Naturally there are hiking trails as well like the Rim Trail which takes you over rim of Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest. Much of this trail is wheelchair accessible as well.
Lodgings are also available from the South Rim. If you would like to spend more than a day seeing the sites you can stay at Grand Canyon Lodging – which is close to the Yavapai Observation Station.
If your time in Vegas is limited and you only want to dedicate a day to your Grand Canyon Tour then the North Rim is the place to check out. From the various North Rim vantage points you get more a feel for the width of the canyon and the Colorado River is a distant stream barely visible. Point Imperial stands 8,803 feet and overlooks the Painted Desert and the east end of the canyon. Cape Royal offers a panoramic view of the canyon, up, down, and in every direction. Both are accessible via scenic winding roads accessible to all traffic.
Point Sublime is a bit more adventurous, accessible only with four-wheel drive and a bit of hiking. It is a 2 hour one-way drive to this point, and you will want to check on road conditions, but it is more than worth the effort if you have the time.
The most popular North Rim spot is Bright Angel Point. This is easily accessible, it’s a short walk to different beautiful vantage points and the Grand Canyon Lodge from here, and it offers a great view of the Bright Angel Canyons and Roaring Springs.
Grand Canyon West
This section of the Grand Canyon is completely owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Nation. It is open year-round but can be difficult to get to. Some sections of the road leading here may not yet be paved, which means your rental insurance would be void do to “off-road” driving if you have a rental car. The simplest way to see the amazing views Grand Canyon West offers is by booking a Motorcoach, airplane, or helicopter tour. If you have the time Grand Canyon West is well worth the effort, some of the unique things you can do at Grand Canyon West are:
- The famous Skywalk
- The Airport Cafe
- Witness Native American dances and cultural performances
- Flights to the bottom of the canyon
- Smooth water pontoon boat rides
The Skywalk has become a tourist destination in itself. This is a circular “bridge” which bravely juts from the rock face and takes visitors directly over the abyss of the canyon. This attraction is perfectly safe, but only for the brave.
Grand Canyon West is for those who really want the full Grand Canyon experience. Lodging is a problem though, outside of a few rustic cabins the nearest hotel is a 90 minute drive in Kingman, Arizona. The elements are harsh as well, very cold in the winter, and very hot in the summer.
Grand Canyon East
Grand Canyon East is not part of Grand Canyon Park, but some of the views from here are simply incredible, and this area does still see quite a bit of tourism. Perhaps the most beautiful view Grand Canyon East offers is the Colorado River Gorge Overlook. From here, different times of the year will give the viewer a prism of color both in the rock and the Colorado River below, from a deep blue to a light, Robin-egg shade, and the rock face varies from grey to a deep red. This area features several shops and a number of unique vantage points.