Las Vegas attracts visitors of all sorts with some of its most famous features: indulgent dining experiences, beat-pumping nightclubs and gaming opportunities on alluring casino floors. Yet outdoor enthusiasts are also drawn to the city, thanks to its relatively close distance to the Grand Canyon.. Located in northern Arizona, the national treasure can be explored in several different ways from Las Vegas, and for those staying in Las Vegas, it’s an easy day trip with three particularly good options.
1. Take a road trip
There’s a sense of independence that comes with driving yourself to this hugely popular tourism destination. The West Rim is a two-hour drive from the city, while the South Rim, which is part of Grand Canyon National Park, is a four-hour drive.
Keep in mind: Admission to the West Rim with access to the area’s viewpoints starts at almost $50 a person, and access to the Skywalk, the glass-bottomed viewing platform that juts out 70 feet from the edge and hovers over the canyon, is almost $30 more. Conversely, Grand Canyon National Park costs $30 for one vehicle and all of its passengers for seven days — and that includes access to the North Rim, if visitors are so inclined to make the 212-mile drive from rim-to-rim. Of course, the cost of a rental car and gas for the trip are extras.
Although both rims are easy to find and navigate, parking can be tricky, especially on the South Rim and during the summer and holidays. The freedom afforded by a vehicle, however, means guests can decide what highlights to hit and how long to stay when they visit.
2. Book a ground tour
Letting someone else take control of the wheel means guests don’t have to do much planning, but options are somewhat limited. You can add on to your Grand Canyon trip with bus, Jeep, and overland tours from Las Vegas to both the South and West Rims and package a land trip with float and fly options. There are several hiking trails on each corner of the Grand Canyon too.
Keep in mind: Packages only cover a specific itinerary that can’t be altered. But some companies have refined their offerings to hit the highlights, and having a local guide provide context during a visit can be a major benefit.
3. Take a flight
Flying to the Grand Canyon via airplane or helicopter (just type Grand Canyon) is by far the fastest and most adventurous route, but it’s also the most expensive. Experiencing the Grand Canyon from this bird’s eye perspective is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments, although for first-timers it can be a bit intimidating. A number of companies offer flights over the canyon, and some helicopter companies even land at the bottom for a brief look up from below, before heading back to Las Vegas.
Keep in mind: Personal exploration of the canyon is not an option with flight tours, since there is a tightly scheduled flight pattern. Even those who land at the bottom have minimal opportunity to wander far from the landing pad. And while overland vehicles can travel in any condition, planes and helicopters may have to terminate or cancel a flight due to inclement weather.