Getting to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is easier than ever. Options include helicopter, airplane, and rental car. The most economical, however, is the bus. To help you pick the motor coach adventure that’s right for you, here are seven things to consider:
1. Pick a rim to visit. There are two: The West Rim, which is 120 miles (2.5 hours) from Las Vegas, and the South Rim, which is 277 miles away (5.5 hours).
2. Grand Canyon bus tours are full-day excursions. West Rim trips top out at 9.5 hours. The South Rim requires 15.5 hours. Both trips leave around 7 a.m.
3. The West Rim has the best attractions. It’s home to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that suspends you 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, and the Indian Village, a fascinating re-creation of a small Hualapai community.
4. The South Rim has the best views. The majority of pictures used for postcards and calendars were taken here. Some of the most famous viewpoints are Mather Point, Bright Angel, and Yaki Point.
5. Bundle in a helicopter trip. The West Rim is the only place where you can fly below the rim and land on the bottom. The South Rim hosts the Dragoon Corridor, the widest, deepest part of the National Park. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Don’t miss them.
6. Dress appropriately. Grand Canyon weather is one of extremes. During summer, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and wear loose-fitting clothes. Winters are cold. Dress in layers. Snow’s a possibility at this time. The Park is open 365 days a year.
7. Book online. Tour operators offer their best deals on their website. You will pay more if you use travel agents, third-party brokers, and #800 numbers.
West Rim and South Rim tours start at $95 and $80, respectively. If you decide to bundle the Skywalk into your West Rim trip, you’ll probably pay around $135 per person. Adding a helicopter descent and pontoon boat ride down the Colorado River is just $200 per person. The South Rim offers a helicopter upgrade that costs $190 per person. These upgrades, in my opinion, deserve serious consideration. Here’s why:
1. Nowhere in the Grand Canyon except in the West Rim can you land on the bottom. This is an extra special opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
2. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is world-famous and a “must-do.” More than 200,000 people a year walk the “glass plank.” Here’s your chance to defy gravity.
3. The South Rim helicopter tour lets you see in 30 minutes what would take several days on the ground. It’s the only way to experience the Canyon to the max.
Bus tours leave every day including holidays at 7 a.m. Packages include hotel pick up and drop off, a light lunch, and a photo stop at Hoover Dam. Trips are conducted aboard luxury motor coaches that are decked out with plush seats, climate-controlled cabins, and on-board restrooms. There are ample rest stops for smokers and folks who want to stretch their legs. These are full-day trips.
Las Vegas is a great starting point for day trips to the Grand Canyon. There are many tour options. The most economical is the bus. The next step is to pick a rim to see. Travel time to the West Rim and the South Rim is 2.5 hours and 5.5 hours, respectively. Other items to take into consideration are attractions, viewpoints, weather, and booking a trip online. I also recommend that you bundle Skywalk access, a helicopter tour, or a raft trip into your bus package. Each rim is unique and these upgrades will significantly enhance your experience.
Smart Las Vegas visitors know that the cheapest way to see the Grand Canyon is by bus. Before you pull out the “plastic” and make a purchase, check out travel writer Keith Kravitz’ tour reviews at http://www.GrandCanyonBusDeals.com