Did you know that Las Vegas is the Grand Canyon bus tour capital of the U.S.? That’s right. Sin City, located just 120 miles from the West Rim, runs coach trips to the canyon every day of the year. I put the best packages side-by-side. Take a look. I’m confident by the end of this article you’ll find the tour that best meets your needs.
First thing to figure out is which rim you want to visit. There are two: The West Rim and the South Rim. The West Rim is closest. Buses take 2.5 hours to get there from Vegas. The South Rim is 270 miles away and requires a 5.5-hour drive. Most West Rim tours have you back by early evening. South Rim trips get you back to the hotel around 9 p.m.
Adventure or Nature?
The West Rim is famous for things to do. First and foremost, it’s the only place where helicopters are permitted to fly to the bottom of the canyon. You can also take a Colorado River boat ride. Lastly, there’s the Skywalk, the internationally famous glass bridge that lets you strut 70 feet past the edge.
The South Rim is referred to as the “official” National Park. The most famous pictures of the canyon were taken here. The Park is also renowned for its incredible lookouts, like Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and Yaki Point. There’s also Grand Canyon Village, the commercial hub of the South Rim, and numerous hiking trails that let you go below the edge.
West Rim and South Rim bus tours follow the same route and start by skirting the edge of Lake Mead before cutting south over the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. Nearly all tours double back for a Hoover Dam photo stop on the Arizona side of the Dam.
West Rim travelers will turn off at Diamond Bar Road for Grand Canyon West. A rough gravel road defines this stretch. Deluxe tour buses can handle it no problem. If self-driving, please, rent an SUV.
South Rim passengers will stick to the main highway to Kingman, AZ, take a break, then hop back on the bus and head to Williams, AZ, before bearing north and making the final run to the Park.
Kinds of Tours
Here’s a quick rundown on what’s available:
Bus Tour. Takes you to Grand Canyon West. Up to 2.5 hours on the rim.
Bus w/ Skywalk. Best deal. Includes passes to the Glass Bridge and lunch.
Bus, Helicopter & Boat. The flight is phenomenal, and there’s nothing quite like a pontoon-boat ride on the legendary Colorado.
Bus Tour. Guided South Rim tour. Includes several key lookouts. Lunch. Grand Canyon Village. Up to 3 hours of rim time.
Bus & Helicopter. Start with spectacular 30-minute, rim-to-rim flight, then wrap with 2.5-hour ground tour.
When to Book
Not at the last minute. Bus tours are a smash hit with groups and seats fill fast. Make sure you claim your spot. Book no less than 3 days prior to departure. If you can get a week between you and “go” time, do it.
Purchase bus tours online. It’s quick, easy and will save you a few bucks. Take your time when completing the order form, and make sure to properly identify all people in your party. Hit the “submit” button then check your in-box for your confirmation letter.
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