If you’re thinking about going from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, there’s a lot to consider – prices, transport, activities, weather, and the like. So, to make things as easy as possible for you to plan your next epic trip, we’ve broken it all down for you.
How to navigate this guide: Follow the links to jump to particular sections, or simply scroll from top to bottom and you’ll be an expert on everything there is to know about this coveted UNESCO-listed natural landmark.
- Which rim of Grand Canyon is best?
- How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim?
- How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim?
- Why visit the Grand Canyon North Rim?
- How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim?
- What is the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon?
- How much time do you need to spend at the Grand Canyon?
- Can you drive your own car through the Grand Canyon?
- Can you stay at the Grand Canyon overnight?
- How to get the best Grand Canyon deals
Looking to book a tour to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas? Use our search engine and compare all the tours available.
A shining example of Mother Nature’s brilliance, the Grand Canyon has been captivating adventurers and nature-loving travelers for over a century, dazzling with its cascading waterfalls (Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and Navajo Falls are the pick of the lot), unique geology and overwhelmingly vast grandeur. The canyon is so large that it’s impossible to see everything in one visit. That’s exactly why, with so many things to do at the Grand Canyon, many travelers choose to focus on one specific area.
The West Rim (or Grand Canyon West, as it’s not technically part of the national park) is the closest to Las Vegas and easiest to reach, while the South Rim, despite being the most frequented, is also home to the longest list of sublime viewpoints, accommodation options, noteworthy restaurants, and adventure tours. The Grand Canyon North Rim is a popular destination for those looking to escape the crowds of the South Rim (the most-visited section of the park) and enjoy a more intimate experience with this natural wonder.
If you’re staying in Sin City, you have a multitude of options. Fly, bus, or drive; take a day trip or stay overnight; focus on relaxation and tranquility or high-octane adventure, or a little bit of all of the above.
Which rim of Grand Canyon is best?
First thing’s first, best is subjective. The right rim for you depends on what kind of traveler you are, how built-up you like your surroundings, and what kind of experience you’re hoping for.
That being said, here’s a quick rundown of each option to help you make the best decision for your trip:
Starting with the closest side to the bright lights of the Vegas Strip, the West Rim is most popular with tourists thanks to its easy access (about 130 miles from Sin City, which typically takes about two hours and 15 minutes by car).
However, all that popularity comes with a downside; it can feel pretty crowded at times (especially during peak season), and because it’s so developed there’s less of a sense of wilderness. But if you’re looking for convenience and accessibility, the West Rim is probably your best bet.
It’s also home to the dramatic and seriously picturesque Skywalk, a glass bridge that lets you walk some 70 feet over the edge of the canyon, seemingly levitating at 4,770 ft above sea level with nothing but pure air and wilderness between the horseshoe-shaped platform and the rocky ground 4,000 feet below. It’s quintessential Grand Canyon and makes for a killer souvenir photo, if you’re not afraid of heights, that is.
A little further from Vegas, the Grand Canyon’s spectacular South Rim is by far the most popular choice for anyone staying in Arizona (Flagstaff, Sedona, or Phoenix in particular) — and for good reason. But, of course, it still acts as a magnet for Sin City tourists thanks to its stunning landscapes and good mix of tourist facilities and raw nature. It boasts some of the most iconic views of the canyon, is home to the vast majority of hotels and restaurants in the area, and is generally more built-up than its northern counterpart. The South Rim is located over 270 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive – so on the one hand, it’ll take a couple more hours to drive to, but on the other, it’s usually full of more adventure-oriented tourists than the typical selfie-stick-wielding Vegas visitors that flock to the West Rim.
Heading to the more remote region of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim is much less crowded and developed, offering a more wilderness-oriented experience. It’s also about 1000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim, meaning cooler temperatures (a godsend in the summer months) and a different ecosystem with different plant and animal life.
Of course, the flip side here is that because it’s less developed there are fewer hotels and restaurants available, and it’s a longer drive from Vegas (about five hours). So if you’re looking to get away from it all and surround yourself with nature, the North Rim is probably your best choice.
North, South, West… that leaves up with the East Rim! Often overlooked because of its isolation (it’s further away from all the main cities in the area and doesn’t have one particular central point, rather being a ‘side’ more than a ‘rim’), the area is actually home to some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes in the park.
From red cliffs and buttes to dense forests and bubbling springs, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before — and because it’s so far from Vegas (about four hours by car) it tends to be much quieter than the other rims. If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience, this is definitely the place for you.
Just to name a few of the eastern area attractions (not that not all are technically located in the Grand Canyon); Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, the swirling sherbert rocks of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, and Marble Canyon each dazzle visitors with their raw beauty. These spots, like most throughout the Grand Canyon as a whole, are recommended to be visited as part of a small-group guided tour.
No matter which rim you choose, with photo opportunities around every corner, you’re sure to have an incredible experience — and some amazing memories to take home with you.
How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim?
The closest of all the Grand Canyon lookouts to Sin City itself is the West Rim. At just 130 miles (just over a two-hour drive) from the Vegas Strip, it’s by far the most convenient option for a day trip or even a half-day trip if you’re pushed for time.
At this beautiful slice of Mother Nature, you can walk the glass panels on the Skywalk, admire the stunning vistas from lookouts like Eagle Point and Guano Point, or take a helicopter ride down to the floor of the canyon for a bird’s eye view. And, for all you outdoor enthusiasts and thrill-seekers, there’s plenty of white water rafting and ziplining not too far away!
The main problem with going to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is that there’s no public transport that goes all the way there and back in one day. The best, and really, one of the only ways to visit is on a tour, which will pick you up from your hotel, take you to the canyon for a few hours of exploration, and then drop you back at your accommodation at the end of the day.
There is a slew of different kinds of tours available depending on your interests and budget; some include stops along that way at iconic sights like the Hoover Dam or the infamous Route 66, while others focus solely on the magnificent canyon itself.
Why choose a tour? Throw in transport, entrance fees, lunch, and a friendly and knowledgable guide who’ll wax insights about the area, history, and native culture, and it actually becomes a great bang-for-your-buck choice. Most of these pre-organized tours will pick you up in the morning and drop you back in the evening on the same day, however, there are a handful of multi-day options if you’re looking to extend your itinerary.
Of course, there’s always the option to rent your own car and wander down at your own pace — in this instance, it’s best to leave early in the morning to beat the crowds of all the tour busses!
But if you’re all about those amazing memories and aren’t too fussed about the budget (and like to travel efficiently without hours on end on the open road), then there’s one way of getting from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon West Rim that reigns supreme: helicopter. These birds-eye rides take about 40 minutes and, arguably, are just as memorable as the destination itself, with the sky-high perspective showing the magnitude of both the size and the dryness of the American southwest.
Consider this: if you want the thrill of a helicopter ride but prefer not to splurge on a long-distance ride, a handful of companies offer scenic flights of the Canyon itself.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you want to do any activities like hiking, rafting, or taking a helicopter tour once you’re at the Grand Canyon, you’ll need to book these in advance as they often get booked up quickly.
Grand Canyon West Rim entrance fee
The most expensive part of the journey will be getting to the West Rim in the first place. Once you’re there, how much you spend really depends on what kind of adventure you’re looking for.
The most basic option will set you back about $49. This is the bare bones General Admission package that includes access to the tourist area, and tickets for the hop-on/hop-off shuttle service, a regular shuttle that zips you over to both the Eagle Point & Guano Point lookouts.
Keep in mind that the General Admission ticket only includes the natural attractions, not the manmade ones; it won’t include the popular Skywalk itself, but will still allow you to soak in the beauty from the overlooks.
Each time you add something to your itinerary, you’ll need to part with a few extra bucks. For a walk on the heart-pounding Grand Canyon Skywalk, you’re looking at about $64, plus the optional extra fee for a professional photo (for obvious reasons, you can’t take your phone onto the Skywalk, so this is a popular option.)
The so-called ‘Grander Package‘ will set you back around $83 and includes the Skywalk, shuttle bus, overlook access, and a meal voucher at the aptly-named Sky View Restaurant (choose from cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, and more).
The next level up is the ‘Grandest Package‘ (as you can tell, they love their puns). In addition to everything that’s already been mentioned (shuttle, overlook access, meal, and Skywalk), you also get not one but two thrilling adventure activities: for $313, you’ll take the passenger seat in a helicopter ride over the sprawling Canyon before getting up close and personal with Mother Nature at ground level with a thrilling pontoon ride along the Colorado River!
Distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim
A route chock-full of incredible scenery and engulfing wilderness that really puts things in perspective, the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 120 miles from Las Vegas, which means that even if you’re driving at a leisurely pace you can make the journey in under three hours.
However, we recommend taking your time to enjoy the incredible scenery on offer; there are plenty of turnouts along the way where you can pull over and snap some photos or simply take in the view for a quiet moment of reflection (and make no mistake, there’s plenty of quiet around these parts, with nothing but the roar of the wind and the soft hum of the occasional car in the distance.
There’s no need to bring too much with you on this trip as most of what you’ll need will be available once you arrive at the Canyon. However, we recommend packing snacks and drinks for the drive (stopping only for gas), as well as sunscreen, hats, and comfortable walking shoes.
Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim
If you decide to book a bus tour, don’t fret about the directions. The bus will (in most cases) pick you up from your Las Vegas hotel (whether that be on the Strip or Downtown) and skirt you down to the natural UNESCO site in style, meaning you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Most tours will also include a stop or two along the way, such as Hoover Dam (an engineering marvel that is a 700-foot tall, man-made dam dating back to the 1930s), Boulder City, Lake Mead, Kingman (a dusty and old-world city in Arizona along Route 66), Chloride (a once-thriving silver city turned almost ghost town with just 350 modern-day residents) or Route 66 itself (a slight detour from the most direct route, but certainly worth it according to many a past traveler!). So, as you can tell, with plenty to see en route, you might want to bring your camera along for those impromptu photo ops!
As you can see in the map above, if you’ve gone for four wheels instead of the chopper, jump on the US-93 South to drive through Henderson, around Boulder City, past the Hoover Dam (a great spot to break up the trip), and then head down route 93 until you hit Pierce Ferry Rd. From there, turn left through Dolan Springs and drive down Diamond Bar Rd until you make it to Eagle Point Service Road. Overall, it’s an easy route with plenty of wonderful wilderness to admire along the way from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.
Duration from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim
The drive from Las Vegas to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon will take you approximately two and a half hours, give or take depending on traffic conditions and how many stops you make along the way.
However, it’s recommended to take your time to enjoy the incredible scenery on offer; there are plenty of turnouts along the way where you can pull over and snap some photos. In short, as long as you leave early enough to beat the crowds, there’s no need to rush this journey! After all, it’s not every day that you get to see something as grand as the Grand Canyon.
Without any stops along the way, and assuming there’s no traffic getting out of Sin City, the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon can be as quick as 2 hours and 10 minutes from both Fremont Street and the Bellagio (on the Strip) – adding 5-15 extra minutes depending on which Strip hotel you’re staying at.
If you’re making the journey from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon on one of the myriad organized tours, expect the drive to be a little closer to three hours due to the slightly slower speed of the bus – and some potential extra time for additional stops along the way (these might include Hoover Dam or Lake Mead).
Even though the journey is slightly longer, it’s far less of a hassle than driving solo, and you’ll be entertained along the way thanks to the local guide who’ll share all kinds of tidbits about the area as you go!
There is a bounty of benefits to joining one of these tours – from hotel pickup and lunch to the price of admission into the park – so it’s well worth investigating a few tour companies before you book anything.
For those with a little more cash to splash, flying by helicopter from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is undeniably the quickest way to get there (in style, mind you)! The journey will take you around 45 minutes in total, and you’ll be able to see some pretty incredible views of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the sprawling Mojave Desert along the way.
Besides the chance to ride shotgun over one of the more dramatic landscapes north of the equator, the helicopter tours also typically include a glass of well-earned Champagne, an expert pilot who will share all kinds of facts on the area’s history, geography, million-year-old rock formations, and native culture, and – of course – dish up plenty of photo opportunities.
Just bear in mind that this is definitely not the cheapest way to make the journey, with prices starting at around $500 per person. Nevertheless, if you have the cash and you want to make a real impression, then this is certainly the route (literally) for you!
Hot tip: if you’re splurging on the chopper ride, compared to other tours, it’s rather inexpensive to add activities like offroading, whitewater rafting, or hiking to the itinerary.
Best stops from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim
They say it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Well, in this case, it’s about both! Because as spectacular as the 277-mile-long, 18-mile-wide and mile-deep Canyon truly is, no matter which direction you’re coming from, you’ll pass by a stack of otherworldly landmarks (both natural and manmade) en route.
So, which ones are worthy of a stop? Here are some of the best:
Tucked away just 5 miles from the bright lights of the Strip, Springs Preserve is a 180-acre natural oasis in the Mojave Desert. Think botanical gardens, hiking trails, a museum, an art gallery, and a concert venue all rolled into one.
For a short and sweet primer on the history, geology, and wildlife of the area, a quick stop at this living outdoor museum is a must.
The Hoover Dam
Just 30 minutes and 30 miles from downtown Las Vegas, Hoover Dam is one of those places that’s so impressive it’s hard to believe it’s real. And, at more than 700 feet high – the equivalent of a 60-story building – and weighing in at a whopping 6.6 million tonnes, it’s not just big – it’s huge!
Straddling the Arizona-Nevada, this engineering marvel took five years to complete (between 1931 and 1936) and was, at the time, the tallest dam in the world. Nowadays, more than 7 million people visit it each year to tour the power plant, get a glimpse of the Colorado River (which snakes through the dam via Black Canyon), or simply soak up the incredible views from one of the many lookout points.
Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge
Just downriver from Hoover Dam is another engineering masterpiece: The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Also known as The Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, this spectacular structure soars an impressive 885 feet above the Colorado River – making it not only one of the highest bridges in America but also one of the longest arch bridges in existence! At the very least, it holds the title of the longest concrete arch in North America and is therefore definitely worth a quick stop to admire.
As the nation’s largest reservoir (created, of course, as a byproduct of the Hoover Dam), Lake Mead – with 600,000 hectares of rugged mountains, deep canyons, and endless wilderness – is an impressive sight in itself. But it’s also home to some pretty incredible landscapes, including the Black Canyon – a foreboding and hot (due to a hot spring nearby) gorge that was carved out over millions of years by the Colorado River.
Popular activities on Lake Mead include swimming, boating, watersports (like kayaking), fishing, and hiking – all of which are easily accessible from Las Vegas. In fact, there are even a few tour companies that offer day trips from the city before plowing onwards to the Grand Canyon!
A mere 15 minutes from the Hoover Dam is Boulder City; the last town you’ll pass through before reaching the state border and the foreboding structure that is the Dam itself. This cute little place has a fascinating history (it was purpose-built to support the construction workers of Hoover Dam back in the day), as well as plenty of charming eateries and boutique stores if you need to stretch your legs. Take a stroll through Hemenway Park, learn a thing or two at the fascinating Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum, and then climb aboard an old locomotive or two at the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
For all you nature lovers, it’s hard to pass up Boulder City’s Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden as one of the prime stops en route from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon.
The Valley of Fire
If your plan for driving from Sin City to the Grand Canyon is loose and you don’t mind a little detour, there’s ample reason to consider a little side-trip to the Valley of Fire State Park.
This stunning piece of landscape is located an hour northeast of Sin City and is home to more than 46,000 acres of fiery red rocks and sandstone formations (hence the name). It’s also believed to be one of the oldest parks in Nevada, with some parts dating back an impressive 150 million years (not to mention the petroglyphs that were carved into the rock about 2,500 years ago). Trust us, for a taste of Mother Nature’s beauty without the big Grand Canyon crowds, plus myriad hiking, camping, picnicking, and wildlife watching opportunities, this stunning Valley is certainly worth pulling over for!
While this eerie and fascinating ghost town will add about an hour to your journey, it’s more than worth the detour.
Situated just off of Route 66, just a few miles east of Highway 95, south of Vegas and north of Kingman, this old mining town was once home to a thriving population of over 2,000 people during its heyday. These days, while not officially a ghost town (with 350 current residents), it can certainly feel like one, with its abandoned buildings, eerie cemeteries, and overall feeling of being stuck in a bygone era.
Still, despite its relative emptiness, it remains the oldest continually inhabited mining town in the state, regularly impressing history buffs with its well-preserved old mining equipment. The historical society is full of fun facts about yesteryear, while the 1.5-mile drive up to the murals delivers plenty of wonderful photo opportunities. If you happen to be visiting on Saturdays, make sure to pop into the Jim Fritz Museum, an old miner’s house now preserved as an educational walkthrough.
Worth noting: Dramatic Gunfight reenactments by the High Desert Drifters are run on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month at High Noon. And, if you’re a fan of Route 66, be sure to check out the iconic Hackberry General Store which is located just down the road.
If you’re driving down the most direct route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon (which is via US 93), you’ll likely find yourself passing through Dolan Springs.
This small town, located about halfway between the two destinations, is home to a population of just over three thousand people. However, despite its size and typical stopping point for gas and snacks and not much more, there’s actually plenty to see and do here – especially if you enjoy hiking or spending time outdoors.
A top-notch spot for stretching the legs, the Mount Tipton Wilderness Area is both nearby and beautiful, with plenty of walking paths to explore and the occasional wild mustang trotting by. Drive a couple of minutes off the main strip and you’ll stumble across an otherworldly slice of Mars on Earth: Red Lake, Mohave County. This desolate and eerie landscape was the backdrop for the 1996 Mars Attacks film (which should tell you all about the visuals on offer) and provides a surreal photo op. For a quirky souvenir, pop into Sharon’s Knick Knacks, and for a dose of local art, take a few minutes to browse the wacky and wonderful metalwork at TRM Artistic Metal Creations or the rotating, colorful depictions at the Dolan Springs Art Gallery.
So, whether you’re looking to stretch your legs or simply want to take in some real wild west charm, be sure to add Dolan Springs to your list of stops on the way from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon!
No matter where you stop, make sure to enjoy the journey…
Whether you’re driving from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon for business or pleasure, there’s no doubt that this journey will be one to remember! With so much incredible scenery and fascinating history to take in along the way, it’s hard not to fall in love with everything that this part of America has to offer. So, whether you’re planning on spending a few hours or a few days at the Grand Canyon, be sure to allow a couple of extra hours (either on the way there or the way back) to stop and smell the roses – in other words, leave time to check out the landmarks along the way!
How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim?
Before we talk about how to get there, let’s dive into why we should visit the Grand Canyon South Rim in the first place! Despite being a little further from Las Vegas (which, naturally, makes it closer for anyone staying in Sedona or Flagstaff), it’s arguably the more impressive destination of the entire cohort, offering stunning outlooks (Mather Point and justifiably named Ooh Aah Point, to name just a couple of the must-sees), challenging hiking trails (the South Kaibab Trail is found on many an adventurer’s bucket list), helicopter flights, river rapids rides, mule rides, and other memorable activities for visitors of all ages and thrill appetites to enjoy.
Throw in park ranger programs that dive into the history, science, and culture of the region, as we all the Desert View Drive – the only scenic road on the South Rim that is open to private vehicles all year – and the Yavapai Geology Museum (next to the Yavapai viewpoint), and it’s easy to see why southwest travelers often opt to drive a little extra to experience the full month of this heralded world wonder.
So, if you’re looking for an action-packed vacation or simply want to see the very best that this natural landmark has to offer before brewing the charming Grand Canyon Village for dinner, drinks, and souvenirs, head on down to Grand Canyon South Rim!
In terms of getting to the Grand Canyon Village and, in turn, all of the fascinating natural wonders that lie a stone’s throw beyond it, the best way to travel from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim is definitely by car. Although it’s a little further than the West Rim (home of the Skywalk), the journey is still doable in a day and there are plenty of stops along the way where you can break up the driving.
The most direct route takes around four and a half hours and follows US 93 all the way until it meets up with I-40. From there, simply continue on I-40 East until you reach the town of Williams. From there, it’s a simple left turn onto Route 64 North, and after about 60 miles and an hour behind the wheel, after passing through the Kaibab National Forest, you’ll have rocked up at your destination! However, as we mentioned before, there are plenty of wonderful places to stop along the way, so we recommend taking your time and enjoying the journey.
Why not opt for a little Route 66 history?
Taking only about 20 minutes more, the historic and infamous Route 66 splits off from the I-40 in between the towns of Kingman of Seligman. Running close enough to parallel to the I-40 over this 87-mile stretch, the iconic road makes its way through quaint towns like Peach Springs, Valentine, Hackberry, Truxton, and Antares along the way, providing a long list of cafes, restaurants, and unique general stores. Speaking of which, the Hackberry General Store, found at the foot of Peacock Mountain, is like a trip back in time – packed wall to wall with historic signs and artifacts, it encompasses all of the unique allure of Route 66 in one quick pitstop.
Given the choice between the two – Route 66 or the I-40 – the historic route reigns supreme. After all, this is the stretch of asphalt that made America fall in love with the open road!
Grand Canyon South Rim entrance fee
The most conventional way to visit and enter the glorious Grand Canyon is by car. Thankfully, the authorities have made it easy for us. Rather than buying individual access permits, you simply need to obtain a Vehicle Permit for $35. Whether you have two people in your convertible or twelve in your van, that price stays solid.
If you’re roaring down the open road on two wheels, a Motorcycle Permit will set you back $30, while the unusual entrances (on foot, bicycle, park shuttle bus, or kayak) will require a $20 Individual Permit.
Either way, admission passed to the Grand Canyon National Park is for seven days and includes access to both the North Rim and South Rim of the UNESCO Heritage Site. And, a blessing for families, adventure-seeking youngsters 15 years old and under are always admitted free of charge.
So, as you can see, despite being a little further out from Las Vegas, the South Rim (and the North Rim) are actually more affordable than the privately-run West Rim.
Hot tip: on 5 select days most years, access to the National Park is free and doesn’t require a paid permit! Those days, which, mind you, will be busier, so best to arrive as early as possible, include:
- January 17: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 16: First day of National Park Week
- August 4: Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act
- September 24: National Public Lands Day
- November 11: Veterans Day
Planning on visiting a number of national parks during the year? For the best bang for your buck, it’s worth considering an all-encompassing park called America the Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass.
With one of these passes in hand (the cost is $80), you’ll have entrance fees waived to more than 2,000 recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies (including all lands managed by the National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife Service).
Keep in mind that the aforementioned National Park permits won’t include the West Rim of the Grand Canyon because technically it is not part of the National Park, rather independently owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribal Nation.
Distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim
The South Rim – the gateway to the majority of the Grand Canyon’s most coveted hikes – is about 4.5 hours away by car, covering some 290 miles through dusty desert roads. To put things in perspective, that’s nearly twice as long and more than twice as far as the Vegas to West Rim route.
And while some people would scoff at the idea of a couple of extra hours behind the wheel, for those wearing their optimistic and curious traveler hats, more driving time simply equals more incredible places to stop along the way, more unique towns to discover en route, more photo opportunities or deserted desert highways, more natural landmarks to cruise past, and more time to belt out your favorite road trip songs, karaoke-style!
Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim
Whilst the drive is long, it’s actually very easy as there are only a few key junctions and routes.
The first part of the journey from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim takes you out of the Entertainment Capital of the World, past the town of Henderson and Boulder City, and through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. For this segment, you have two choices, about the same time behind the wheel. Choice one, Route 93, goes through Boulder City, while choice two, the I-11 freeway, goes around it. Sure, you might shave off a minute or two by keeping to the main freeway, but you’ll miss out on the quirky shops and notable museums found in Boulder City – it’s recommended to go one way there, and the other way back.
Whether you jump on the scenic route (Route 96) or the efficient route (the I-11) they eventually merge into one which will take you all the way to Hoover Dam on the state border – one of America’s most impressive engineering feats that has been a postcard-worthy icon for the better part of a century. From there, continue on Route 93 south until you reach the town of Kingman, Arizona – a charming desert town and former railway hub that is one of the largest built-up zones in the immediate area and plays host to the Route 66 Museum, Locomotive Park, and the Kingman Railroad Museum.
From Kingman, you’ve got another two choices – there’s no right or wrong route, it simply depends on your priority.
If you want to get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim as quickly as possible, then you’ll simply keep cruising along the I-40 East – otherwise known as the Purple Heart Trail – until you reach the town of Williams. Along the way, you’ll be blessed with a great view of Hualapai Peak (on the right-hand side, just outside of Kingman) and cruise through the small towns of Seligman and Ash Fork (a good spot to stop for fuel or a quick bite).
On the other hand, if you’re not pressed for time, why not take it slow, soaking in the spectacular history of America’s most famous road? Yep, Route 66. Taking only about 20 minutes more than the freeway option, the 87-mile stretch of infamous roadway twists and turns its way through rugged scenery and makes its way through a half-dozen little towns along the way where quirky boutiques, one-of-a-kind museums, and the friendliest of locals await.
Okay – so you’ve either just cruised down Route 66 (did you find your kicks?) or shaved a few minutes off the journey by going along the Freeway. Either way, after the roads intertwine in Seligman, you’ll have made it to Williams not long after.
Once you’ve hit Williams, take a simple left turn onto Route 64 North. You’ll pass through Grand Canyon Junction, and the expansive beauty of the Kaibab National Forest along the 60-mile stretch before, well, that’s it! You’ll have arrived!
That’s a lot to take in, so here’s the summary of how to get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim:
In short, take the same route you would to reach the West Rim, but rather than hanging a left when you get to Dolan Springs, continue straight towards Kingman. At Kingman, go left until you reach Williams, then left again until you’re staring into the abyss of the UNESCO-listed world wonder!
As you can see, no matter which forks you take, there’s a heck of a lot to look forward to on this drive, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time, top up your gas tank, and enjoy the ride! And despite incredible views of one of America’s most iconic landmarks waiting as your post road trip reward, the journey is arguably just as memorable – it is, in reality, what you make of it.
Don’t want to drive?
If you’re not keen on driving or simply want to avoid the hassle of organizing the road trip and figuring out directions, there are plenty of tour companies that run trips from Las Vegas to the South Rim (and sometimes even the North Rim).
Most tours depart early in the morning, making their way through the Hoover Dam and Boulder City at the very least. And if you want to add a little excitement to your tour, look for one that includes a helicopter or airplane ride over the Canyon. These exciting air tours deliver a whole new perspective of this natural wonder.
Duration from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim
The beautiful drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon’s South Rim is a longer one, but it’s worth it – if, for nothing else, the opportunity to cruise down the most historic and famous road in the country: Route 66.
Typically, the drive takes close to four and a half hours, give or take depending on traffic conditions and how many pitstops you make along the way for gas, snacks, and sightseeing.
While the 290-mile drive can be done in less than 4 hours and 30 minutes (maybe even closer to 4 if you’re a lead foot on the gas), to zoom through this part of the world would be a sin. With a handful of towns en route full of shops and restaurants you won’t find anywhere else, the common angle is that it’s better to take your time, enjoy the scenery, and make a few stops along the way. After all, this is one of America’s most iconic road trips!
If you’ve making the journey by car, you can expect it to take about 4 hours and 30 minutes without stops. But of course, locals advise taking your time to enjoy the experience – so queue up a good playlist and a podcast or two and make the most of the open road!
As we touched on earlier, the route from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim by car has a few different options – but they all get you to the same final destination: the marvelous Grand Canyon.
If you were looking to take the scenic (read: more scenic, since the entire drive is stunning no matter which way you go) route, which includes a short detour through Boulder City (next to the hoover dam) and a tangent onto Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman instead of the built-up interstate freeway, you’ll be adding about 30 minutes all up to your journey.
For the chance to see a sliver of America’s most iconic road, it’s not much of a price to pay at all.
While renting (or bringing) your own car is typically the most cost-effective and quickest way to get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon’s southern side, it’s not necessarily the easiest.
Similar to the plethora of bus tours that venture over to the West Rim and the Grand Canyon Skywalk, there are a few companies that make the journey to the South Rim too.
If you’re not interested in driving or want to avoid the hassle of organizing a road trip, these bus tours pick up from most hotels on the Las Vegas Strip and head straight for one of America’s most incredible natural wonders.
Full of fascinating facts from the friendly guide en route, as well as air conditioning and occasional onboard entertainment (depending on which tour you book), most tours include a stop at the Hoover Dam, while others might also pop into Chloride (an old mining town steeped in history), or make a little detour to the ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff.
Sure, the tours have a busload (pun intended) of benefits, but busses typically make a few more stops along the way for snacks and restrooms, not to mention drive a little slower. So, expect pre-organized tours to take closer to 5 hours to get from Sin City to the South rim.
Take to the skies! One of the most popular ways to see the Grand Canyon is from above, and there are plenty of helicopter and airplane tours that depart toward both the South and West Rims. There’s no doubt about it – one of the best ways to see any natural wonder is from above, and the Grand Canyon is certainly no exception.
The majority of air tour companies will offer a pickup service from your Las Vegas hotel, getting you to their terminal in good time for your flight. And while some might consider this one of the more expensive ways to see the Canyon, many a traveler couldn’t speak any higher of it, preaching that it’s definitely worth the extra couple hundred bucks for the unique bird’s eye perspective – not to mention the bragging rights and killer photo ops!
Once you’re airborne, get ready for incredible views as you fly over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and the Colorado River before reaching the Grand Canyon itself. While the West Rim journey can be done by helicopter (40 minutes, as mentioned earlier), to visit the Grand Canyon South Rim (part of the National Park; whereas the West Rim is not), you’ll have to fly by plane – the journey will take around 1 hour and 10 minutes and is spectacular from takeoff to landing.
Once you’ve arrived at the South Rim – no matter how you got there – you can always sign up for a helicopter tour of the Canyon itself. With options for short scenic flights, flights that transport you into the depths of the canyon, and a host of tours that combine different thrilling activities, there are plenty of options to take to the skies, even if you arrived at the site by car in the first place.
A standout feature of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim is the esteemed and historic Grand Canyon Railway. A tourist and transportation institution since 1901, the magical Grand Canyon Railway has been whipping visitors from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim on the 65-mile journey since its inception – long before the slew of tour busses had paved roads to drive along.
As you take your plush seat in the vintage cars, led by the restored locomotives, you’ll be serenaded with live music at the hands of costumed cowboy characters, be that with a fiddle, guitar, banjo, or squeezebox, all while the scenery out the window slowly transforms from dusty desert to wild prairies and luscious pine.
But you don’t have to wait for the All Aboard call for the old-school entertainment to begin: even before the train departs, guests are dazzled with a Wild West shootout performance!
If you’re looking to break up your journey in Williams before jumping on the train to the Canyon itself, consider a stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, a 298-room property that was built to resemble the circa-1908 Fray Marcos Hotel.
Not only does the hotel offer visitors a convenient place to rest their heads before or after their train journey, but it also provides them with plenty of on-site activities and amenities to enjoy, such as a heated pool, spa, fitness center, and more, and is directly opposite the train depot, making for an easy stroll to the platform.
The train journey takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes each way (three-quarters of an hour faster than its inaugural trip in 1901), and there are plenty of sights along the way to admire as you continue onward to your final destination. Once you arrive at the South Rim, there are bucketloads more to see and do, from short walks along some of the many scenic trails to longer hikes down into the canyon itself, so make sure you give yourself enough time to explore this world-renowned natural landmark.
While it is technically feasible to do a round trip in one day, for those who want to take their time appreciating all that the Canyon has to offer without being rushed, it’s recommended to spend a night staying at the Grand Canyon Village.
For 10 months of the year, the conductor blows his whistle for departure at 9.30 am. That same day, the train returns from the Grand Canyon Village to Williams at 5.45 pm. (November and December are the exceptions when the train departures are shifted an hour earlier in both directions to allow for more daylight.)
As far as the wallet is concerned, you can experience train travel a-la 1923 in the classic Pullman rail cars – these are the cheapest tickets, starting at $67 for adults. For First Class, which comes with big windows, bar service, and complimentary snacks, you’re looking at $159, and for the ultimate experience – either the Observation Dome or Luxury Dome – tickets are upwards of $189.
So sit back, relax, and take in incredible views of Arizona’s high country as well as glimpses of wildlife like elk, deer, and pronghorn antelope.
Best stops from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim
If you take the most direct route, the epic journey from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim covers the same path as you’d take to get from the Las Vegas Strip to the West Rim. With that in mind, scroll up to our section on the best stops from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim to learn about the Hoover Dam, Boulder City, and plenty more.
If you’re after a quick oversight of each and can’t be bothered scrolling, here’s the elevator pitch for each of the stops on the first part of the route:
A feat of early 20th-century American engineering, the colossal Hoover Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between Arizona and Nevada. At 221m high (over 726 feet), it was the tallest dam in the world when it was built in 1935 – and it also held the title of the largest hydroelectric plant in the world until about 1948.
Tours operate here that dive into not only the history of the area and the construction of the landmark but the workings of the power plant as well. Plus, at a length of 600 feet long, the spillways are certainly one of the most impressive features of the Hoover Dam.
A few minutes down the road from Hoover Dam is Boulder City, Nevada – the town that was purpose-built to house workers during the construction of Hoover Dam. It’s now a National Historic Landmark District (in fact, it’s Nevada’s largest listing on the National Register of Historic Places with no less than 514 buildings), and well worth a stop on your travels. Check out The Nevada Southern Railroad Museum for an insight into the city’s history as a railroad hub, or take a stroll along historic Buchanan Boulevard for a blend of charming cottages and lush greenery.
Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge
Besides being a magnificent spot to admire the Hoover Dam from afar, the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (AKA the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) is a formidable feat of engineering in its own right. Towering an impressive 885 feet above the Colorado River, the bridge has the claim to fame of being the longest concrete arch in North America.
If you’re craving a dose of nature (and a change of scenery from the bright lights of Sin City), the multitude of outdoor activities at Lake Mead will scratch any itch. Popular for fishing, boating, camping, kayaking, swimming, picnics and nature walks, the entire Lake Mead Recreation Area – 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys, and manmade lakes – is a year-round playground where fresh air and sharp blue waters make for a memorable stop and addition to any Vegas and Grand Canyon itinerary.
The Valley of Fire
Despite requiring a little detour, the Valley of Fire delivers unforgettable landscapes in every direction – a state park of Nevada, located close to the city of Overton, it covers an area of 46,000 acres and was named for its stunning red sandstone formations which came to life thanks to shapeshifting sand dunes about 150 million years ago. The picturesque valley includes many hiking trails (both easy ones for families and more challenging treks for seasoned hikers), as well as opportunities for picnicking, camping, photography, and bird watching – and just around the corner in Overton lies the Lost City Museum-Archaeology, a great spot for any history buff.
Not quite a ghost town, but certainly like a trip back in time, the old mining village of Chloride is an easy stop between Sin City and the South Rim. Unlike the journey to the West Rim, no detour is required here.
Make sure to check out the museums and events run by the local historical society, and if traveling in your own car, note that the 1.5-mile drive up to the Purcell Murals (painted by the artist Roy Purcell) is a hidden gem not to be missed.
Typically a rest stop and point to fill up gas – and the turning-off point for the West Rim – Dolan Springs is rarely given second look. However, scratch below the surface and you’ll find a half-dozen noteworthy activities that can help break up the long drive. For a breath of fresh air, the Mount Tipton Wilderness Area is full of aesthetic natural landscapes and walking paths to stretch the legs; just off the main road is Red Lake, a Mars-like setting that has actually been used in Hollywood films to mimic the desolate plains of the red planet.
The next important town on your route from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim is Kingman, which is approximately 35 minutes further than Dolan Springs and about two hours from Las Vegas. It has a population of close to 30,000 people, making it by far the busiest settlement between Las Vegas and the South Rim (outside of Henderson, which you can basically lump in with Vegas since they’re next door to one another).
Thanks to the comparative business of the Arizona town, Kingman offers a variety of dining and shopping options as well as accommodation if you want to extend your trip to several days
Williams, Arizona is a small town with a rich history. Dating back to the early 1900s when it was mostly known as the stop of the Grand Canyon Railway, the small transport hub has developed over the years and is now home to a small yet impressive collection of activities for the whole family.
One of the most popular things to do in this quaint little town is visiting the Bearizona Wildlife Park, a family-friendly safari-style animal oasis that mimics the natural Arizona wilderness and houses everything from black bears to sheep, bison, wolves, deer, elk, and goats across its three-mile section of land. Choose from the drive-through or walkthrough option, and make sure to plan your visit to coincide with one of the several trainer-led animal shows throughout the day.
For more outdoorsy delights, Bucksinner Park is an awesome place to camp and stargaze, whip together a little picnic, or cast a fishing line. Back on the main drag, make sure to pop into Pete’s Route 66 Gas Station Museum — an old-timey and tiny gas station that has been delightfully transformed into a private museum where a collection of impressive vintage vehicles are put on display, with plenty to be learned about the area and its history.
For those interested in both American history and a surge of adreniline, a stop at the Route 66 Zipline Adventure Park is a must. This unique attraction lets visitors zip line over part of the world-famous Mother Road while providing killer views of the nation’s largest ponderosa pine forest, soaring through the air at 30 miles per hour both backward and then forward. And, unlike typical ziplines, this one is seated and lets you fly side by side with your nearest and dearest.
After working up an appetite, there are plenty of great places to eat in Williams. If you’re looking to while away an evening before making the journey to the South Rim the following morning, dinner at the Red Raven Restaurant is a crowd favorite, washed down beautifully with a tasting flight at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company.
End your day with a stay at one of Williams’ many hotels (such as the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, which sits just across the road from the train depot), or pitch a tent under the stars at one of the handful of RV parks and campsites.
Grand Canyon Junction
The last major town before getting to the Grand Canyon Village, Grand Canyon Junction can be ticked off the list quickly.
In terms of famous attractions, Flintstones Bedrock City is by far the most popular. Delivering a slice of vintage pop culture, the outdoor theme park houses building and references of the beloved cartoon, with dino slides, authentic replica huts, and more. It is just $5 and with a gift shop to boot, it’s worth it for the nostalgia alone.
Around the corner is Raptor Ranch, where you can witness exciting raptor flight demonstrations that highlight their cunning hunting abilities as well as take part in falconry classes!
Overall, Grand Canyon Junction offers a host of camping grounds, RV parks, and hotels. For this reason, a handful of travelers opt to stay here for a night in order to tackle the big kahuna – the Grand Canyon – bright and early the next day before the tourist swarms land.
Grand Canyon Village
And just like that, you’ve arrived at the mouth of this UNESCO wonder! Before tackling the hiking trails or adventure activities, allocate some time to explore this adorable and historic settlement – while the Canyon receives all the spotlight, the Village still boasts a handful of things to see and do, especially for visitors interested in art, history, and architecture.
Take the Hopi House, for example. Designed by early 20th-century architect Mary Colter, this landmark has stood since 1904 as a bustling market for Native American crafts created by local Hopi artisans. Clearly having a large influence on the region, Mary Colter also designed the Bright Angel Lodge – the first accommodation on the Rim for Grand Canyon visitors. With a unique architectural style, you’ll find a host of locally inspired elements like rustic fireplaces, wooden details, and charming stonework, not to mention the authentic Southwestern hospitality.
For all you art lovers, add the Kolb Studio to the list. Sitting at the head of the Bright Angel Trail, the Kolb Studio was one of the earliest businesses in the area. Apart from being the home of brothers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb (hence the name), it was originally their photography too, from which they sold artifacts that detailed the earliest expeditions into the Grand Canyon, like photos of tourists trekking into the Canyon on mules.
When you’ve worked up an appetite and hear your stomach start to rumble, any of the El Tovar Dining Room, Bright Angel Bicycles and Cafe, Canyon Village Market Place and Deli, Arizona Dining Room, or Yavapai Tavern ought to do the trick.
Why visit the Grand Canyon North Rim?
Being the furthest of the three main Grand Canyon rims from Las Vegas comes hand in hand with being the most underrated. Offering a bounty of adventure activities, sublime lookout points, challenging and rewarding treks, and plenty of flora and fauna to admire, the North Rim regularly surprises with its diversity of attractions. Found in the northwest corner of Arizona, the North Rim sits at an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet – about 1,000 feet higher than its southern neighbor. This equates to cooler temperatures year-round, which, in the summer months, in particular, is a godsend.
And, despite being located a mere 10 miles away from the South Rim as the crow flies, the environment – in terms of both the natural landscapes and the atmosphere – couldn’t be more stark a contrast.
This remote slice of the Canyon sees far fewer visitors compared to its southern counterpart. This translates to a much more intimate experience when you do visit – something that is hard to come by at one of America’s most popular national parks. So before we dive into how to get there, let’s dive into why this lesser-known corner should sit on your bucket list.
One of the main reasons to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim is its accessibility to a variety of outdoor activities. While hiking is obviously a given at any national park worth its salt, the North Rim offers so much more. For starters, this part of Arizona is home to pinyon-juniper woodlands, aspen forests, and mountain meadows – all of which make for prime real estate when it comes to wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional black bear!
The North Rim is also a great place to stargaze. Because of its elevation and distance from light pollution sources, this part of the park offers some of the best views of the Milky Way in the entire country. Head to Bright Angel Point or Cape Royal for two of the best spots to catch a glimpse of our galaxy on a clear night (not to mention a killer view by day too). While the former is the most accessible, arguably it’s the latter view that is the most aesthetic and impressive.
For all you experienced adventurers, consider seizing the opportunity to hike (or ride, via mule or horseback) the North Kaibab Trail. At 14 miles long from rim to river (28 miles out-and-back), it’s the longest and most challenging of the three main Grand Canyon trails and is not recommended to tackle in a single day, but with an overnight camp to split the journey up.
If you prefer the comfort of the open road, some of the best viewpoints in the North Rim area are all scattered along one winding, 13-mile stretch of pavement: the Cape Royal Scenic Road. The popular detour diverts from Hwy 67 just before Fuller Canyon and unlocks a bounty of lookouts and picnic areas along the way – from Point Imperial (a dramatic and photogenic spot to watch the sunset) to Vista Encantada (where wildflowers abloom beneath Ponderosa Pine), Roosevelt Point, and the Walhalla Overlook, to name but a few. Built in 1920, Grand Canyon Lodge boasts a stellar viewpoint of its own, overlooking both the North Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Creek.
When planning your adventure from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon North Rim, keep in mind that the road to the Grand Canyon North Rim is closed from Dec 1 through mid-May due to the likelihood of snow. In line with this, a chunk of the local services such as restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds are closed over the winter months too. You can still access the area via a backcountry permit secured in advance, but it becomes a little more complicated and is suggested only for snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
How to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim?
For the most part, your options are driving or flying – either way, you’re in for one heck of an adventure without the busloads of tourists cramping your style.
The journey by car is a long one – just under five hours without stops – but it’s undeniably scenic. The route consisting of the I-15 freeway and a handful of state highways snakes between (or, at least, a stone’s throw from the edge of) a series of forests, parks, and wilderness monuments as it makes its way north from Vegas (Zion National Park, Beaver Dam Wash National Conservation Area, Valley of Fire State Park, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, and the Kaibab Indian Reservation, to name the most proximate to the road). The North Rim entrance is located 40 miles south of Jacob Lake on Hwy 67, passing by the Kaibab Plateau en route.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to get behind the wheel for such a long journey, several tour companies can get you there via airplane or helicopter in under an hour. While this option will set you back a little more money-wise, it’s definitely the quickest and most convenient way to reach the North Rim from Las Vegas if you’re short on time. And let’s be honest – flying over the Grand Canyon is an experience in and of itself!
P.S. Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen! The higher elevation means that the sun’s rays are even more intense at the North Rim. While counter-intuitive to packing sunscreen, you should also pack extra layers, as it can get a bit frosty at the high altitude! And as always, be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles when visiting any national park.
What is the Grand Canyon North Rim entrance fee?
Simplified answer: there is no specific fee to enter the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you just need a general Grand Canyon access pass.
More complicated answer: While there is no fee specifically to enter the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, if you are planning on visiting any national parks in the United States (of which the Grand Canyon is one), you will need to purchase an access permit. Similar to the South Rim entrance permits, the fees are structured by vehicle rather than by individual. If you’re arriving in a car (or a van, with up to 15 people), then it’s pennies, at just $35 total. For the petrolheads on motorbikes, you’re looking at $30, while any Individual Permits (which cover entrance on foot, bike, shuttle bus, or kayak) are $20. Every permit is valid for 7 days for you to come and go as you please, and kids under 15 are free.
Hot tip: on 5 select days most years, access to the National Park is free and doesn’t require a paid permit! If you plan or venturing to several different USA national parks (to appreciate a wider perspective of the stunning raw beauty of this naturally diverse nation) you can buy an Annual Permit which includes access to over 2,000 recreation areas. To learn more about the free access days and the Annual Access Pass, click here – we discuss them earlier with respect to the South Rim, but the same information applies.
Distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim
Some spots on this big blue planet ooze something unique, boasting an appeal that only those who’ve visited can truly comprehend. The Grand Canyon, with its grandeur and beauty, is one of those places. And the North Rim is a place within the Grand Canyon that is unlike any other place in the world.
The North Rim is only open from mid-May to mid-October because it snows there in winter. That’s why it’s recommended to visit between June and August for optimal weather conditions, although September can also be lovely as the colors start to change. October brings cooler temperatures and fewer visitors as the season winds down.
To get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim by car, you’ll cover close to 270 miles – give or take depending on which area of Sin City you’re departing from. To put things in perspective, that’s a smidge over double the distance of the Las Vegas to West Rim route, and about 10 miles less than the drive to the Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim.
How to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim
While the South Rim and West Rim share a section of road, the North Rim rides solo, jutting out northeast from Las Vegas instead of southeast as you would for the other two.
Once you’ve said goodbye to the boisterous bars and neon-lit casinos of the strip – whether you’re in your own car or on a tour bus – the first part of your drive will take you north on I-15 (AKA the Las Vegas Freeway) out of Vegas. After about 40 minutes on the freeway, you’ll first pass through the tiny town of Crystal. Sandwiched between two arms of the Moapa River Indian Reservation, this little settlement is one of the gateways to the Valley of Fire State Park.
From there, if you’re not detouring to the Valley of Fire, simply continue from Crystal along the I-15 past a few small towns like Glendale and Mesquite, following along the Virgin River for the mostpart, until you hit the build-up southwest corner of Utah. Continue straight through on the I-15 via St George and Washington at the foot of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area (this area is a great spot to stop for a bite). Thereafter, you’ll take exit 16 to merge onto the Utah-9 before swapping onto Utah-59 South for the next leg of the journey.
On Route 59, after making your way through Apple Valley and Colorado City, you’re back in Arizona by this point and the road becomes State Route 389. Keep cruising down that highway and you’ll pass through the Kaibab Indian Reservation and the small town of Fredonia. From Fredonia, you’ll jump on Route 89A until Jacob Lake (about 30 minutes), and then it’s smooth sailing down Route 67 – the Grand Canyon Highway – until you arrive at the North Rim!
As you can see, visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim from Las Vegas is doable in a day if you’re willing to put in some driving time. However, since you’ll want a full day (or more) to explore the fascinating elements of the Canyon, many a traveler chooses to bunk in for the night at Jacob Lake or the Kaibab Lodge.
Duration from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim
How long it takes to get from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim depends on your choice of transport and the number of stops you make along the way. The average drive time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim is about five hours with one or two stops, but it could be more or less depending on traffic and weather conditions. To avoid making the drive in one day, consider spending a night in Jacob Lake or Fredonia. This will give you more time to explore the area and make the most of your trip.
Certainly the most flexible transport method, driving yourself – which will take about five hours – gives you the ability to make stops along the way, detour if you want to explore something new, and generally take your time getting to Grand Canyon North Rim. That being said, it’s also the most tiring option (if you’re the one driving), and keep in mind that you’ll have to factor in gas, rental car fees (if applicable), and lodging costs if you plan on spending the night en route.
If driving intimidates or bores you, and you prefer to be a little spoiled in true holiday mode, consider letting the experts do their thing and taking a tour bus from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim instead.
Joining a guided group is often more affordable than renting a car and driving yourself and takes away all of the hassle associated with planning out directions, making sure you don’t skip over and of the important landmarks en route, and often takes care of booking accommodation for the night too. Plus, with a local guide aboard, you’ll learn a stack about the environments through which you’re traveling!
Or… you could always ditch the wheels altogether. By far the most time-efficient and exciting way of getting from Sin City to the Canyon is by air! Unfortunately, there is no airport at the North Rim itself, so if you want to fly to the Grand Canyon you’ll have to book an airplane flight to the South Rim or a helicopter flight to the West Rim.
Once at the South Rim, myriad helicopter tours fly over the North Canyon (after all, it’s just 10 miles distance from north to south by air) and the Kaibab National Forest, so you can still experience the beauty of the North Rim from above – you’ll just need to be creative and adaptable in your plans and spend more time at the South Rim.
That said, there are regional airports closer to the North Rim in the form of both St. George Regional Airport and Cedar City Regional Airport, but they’ll require stopovers in either Phoenix or Salt Lake City, and you’ll still have to organize transport to the canyon thereafter.
Best stops from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon North Rim
A longer drive means more alluring roadside attractions to take in along the way. With both manmade activities in the form of museums, hotels, dinosaur discovery sites and family fun centers, and natural awe-inspiring landmarks covering rivers, parks, gorges, and national forests, you could easily spend two or more days catching all the en-route attractions before arriving at the Grand Canyon if you wanted to.
While there are dozens of places to check out, some of our favorites include:
The easternmost Nevadan city, Mesquite is the perfect spot to grab a bite for lunch – namely, at the nostalgic Peggy Sue’s 50’s Style Diner. It’s also the last chance to hit up major casinos, so if you want to roll the nice one more time before leaving Nevada, then the Eureka Casino Resort, Casablanca Casino (known for its waterfall pool) Golden West Restaurant and Casino, or Stateline Casino, to name a few, are ready for business.
Not too far off the main road, you’ll also find the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum, a time capsule into the world of the area’s pioneers, the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery, and the Wolf Creek Golf Club for anyone looking to practice their drive.
The Virgin River Gorge
This is a spectacular gorge located east of Mesquite, Nevada. The Virgin River flows through deep canyons and over red cliffs, making for a jaw-dropping scenic drive. There are several pull-offs where you can stop and enjoy the view, at both the South Gorge and main Gorge – and don’t miss the Virgin River Canyon either, a perfect precursor to the world wonder you’ll see not too many hours later.
St George and Washington
Two towns side by side in Utah, you’ll drive past both of these built-up areas along the most direct route. If you want to stretch your legs and explore nature, check out the Red Hills Desert Garden, Pioneer Park, Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow State Park, or Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. For a more educational stopover, there’s the notable St. George Art Museum, St. George Utah Temple, and a slew of stately 19th-century buildings dotted around town (the Pioneer Courthouse and Brigham Young Winter Home, to name a couple).
And, for some more typical family fun, you’ve got the St. George Children’s Museum, St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, Fiesta Fun Family Fun Center, Smash Labs Rage Rooms & Axe Throwing (maybe save this one for the bigger kids) and Thunder Junction All Abilities Park.
Zion National Park
While this infamous National Park can’t be viewed in just an hour or two – there’s simply so much to discover that you’ll need at least a day – since it’s so close to the road you’ll already be traveling on, if you have another 2 days to spare, a stop at Zion is hard to argue with.
You’ll only be adding about an hour’s worth of total driving time, but with landmarks like the Temple of Sinawava, West Temple, Canyon Junction Bridge, the Watchman, and the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, you’ll be filling up your camera roll in no time.
Hot tip: check out the fun things to do in Zion National Park.
Pipe Spring National Monument
A must for any galavanting history buffs, this historic site is located in the heart of the Kaibab Indian Reservation on the Arizona side of the border, just off Route 389. It features an old fort built by Mormon pioneers, as well as a working ranch with Longhorn cattle and American bison. You can visit an old fort (Winsor Castle), one of the many structures that helps provide a glimpse into the American Indian and pioneer life in the old West, or take part in a guided hike to learn the tumultuous history behind the area and the cultural significance of the scenery.
Kaibab Plateau HP
Home to an abundance of wildlife among an engulfing section of towering greenery, the Kaibab Plateau en route to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a lesser-known but no less stunning destination that’s definitely worth the teenie-tiny detour. With towering peaks, verdant forests, and awe-inspiring views, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. So if you’re looking to escape the crowds and experience some true natural beauty, pop into the Kaibab Plateau Visitor Center before heading on up to the 9200-foot-high Plateau.
The Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center
This is a must-stop for anyone visiting the North Rim. The visitor center has exhibits on the geology, history, and ecology of the Grand Canyon, offers a host of ranger-led programs, and has friendly volunteers (not to mention a bookstore) on-site to help you make the most of your journey to the peaceful North Rim.
As you can see, there are plenty of interesting places to visit along the way to the Grand Canyon North Rim. So, if you want to make the most of your journey, don’t rush – just live in the moment.
What is the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon?
Hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers rejoice – while summer is peak season and you’ll no doubt be blessed with a huge variety of hiking options and adventure activities, the best time to visit the Grand Canyon is during the springtime or the fall!
From March to May and September to November, temperatures are usually milder and more comfortable, making for perfect conditions to explore all that this natural wonder has to offer.
Sure, you can visit in summer, and millions of tourists do so every year, but for that exact reason, the crowds are typically larger, meaning that reservations at campsites, hotels, restaurants, and main attractions (like the Skywalk on the West Rim) will be a little more competitive. And, of course, the sun is blaring down during July and August like no tomorrow.
All of this logic applies more so to the West Rim and South Rim. If you’re heading to the North Rim, which sits about 1,000 feet higher in elevation compared to the south, temperatures are more bearable in the peak summer months – and the crowds are smaller too. Keep in mind, however, for exactly the same reason, the highway to the North Rim is closed for the winter due to the likelihood of snow.
How much time do you need to spend at the Grand Canyon?
Well, how much time you spend at this world wonder depends; it’s entirely up to where you want to go, what you want to see, and how many other National Parks in the area you want to squeeze into your trip.
The most basic of basic trips – the day trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim – will take an entire day.
If you want to have the full experience – including sunrises and sunsets on the viewpoints, a mix of hiking, adventure activities, history and culture tours, and a few hours left over to wander off the beaten track, it’s recommended to allow between two and three days at the Grand Canyon South Rim, though you could stay for longer for a more relaxed visit.
Alternatively, if you plan on heading to the North Rim, to really make the most of the area – including the plethora of parks and landmarks nearby (Zion, for one), you could easily spend 5-7 days on the journey.
Hot tip: if you do want to tick off as many of the main attractions as possible, such as Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Zion National Park, Valley of Fire National Park, and Bryce Canyon, there are a few tour options that include all of the above (and then some), taking the hassle out of planning a multi-stop adventure.
Can you drive your own car through the Grand Canyon?
Each of the three main areas has different rules in regards to driving, but the short answer is no, you can’t drive your own car through the Grand Canyon itself.
What you can do, however, is drive along the scenic roads. If you end up making your way over to the South Rim, you can drive your own cars along the East Rim Drive (otherwise known as the Desert View Drive). Along the way, there are about 8 viewpoints and about 6 picnic areas as you make your way east along the 23-mile (37-km) long road, so it’s a great way to spend an afternoon soaking in the scenery.
Also at the South Rim, you’ll find four different shuttle bus routes that operate at different times of the year, allowing you to see the area without worrying about driving or parking. Buses arrive every 15-30 minutes and cover the Village Route (blue), Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route, Hermit Road (Red Route), and Hikers’ Express Shuttle.
At the West Rim, you’ll have to park your car at the visitor center and hop on the shuttle. All of the West Rim admission tickets include shuttle access, which drops you at places like Eagle Point, The Skywalk, and Guano Point.
As far as the North Rim is concerned, there’s a shuttle that operates during the year bar winter that takes you to the North Kaibab Trailhead from the Grand Canyon Lodge and back.
Can you stay at the Grand Canyon overnight?
Convinced you need more than a day to explore everything the Grand Canyon has to offer? You’re not alone.
Overnight stays are available at all three rims of the Canyon – South, West, and North. Accommodation options range from camping under the stars to luxury lodges, so there’s something for everyone (and every budget).
If you’re planning on heading to the South Rim (particularly during peak season), keep in mind that advanced bookings are essential as space fills up months in advance. The most popular time to stay overnight is between April and October when temperatures are more comfortable for hiking and spending time outdoors. Some of the best places to stay include Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins, El Tovar Hotel, and Kachina Lodge.
If you’re interested in staying at the Grand Canyon West Rim, you can choose between the Hualapai Ranch in the park itself, the Cabins at Grand Canyon West, the Grand Canyon Western Ranch, the Joshua Tree Ostrich Ranch and Guest House in Dolan Springs (about an hour drive away), or the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs, about 90 minutes away.
As for the North Rim, accommodation options are a little more limited but no less stunning. If you’re planning on spending a night or two here, your best bet is to book one of the cabins at Grand Canyon Lodge. This historic lodge was built back in 1928 and sits right on the edge of the canyon rim – talk about a front-row seat! There’s also the North Rim Campground and the Kaibab Lodge, about 25 minutes north.
Hot tip: if you want to avoid the crowds and likely save a few bucks, consider staying in one of the nearby towns (like Williams for the South Rim or Jacob Lake for the North Rim) and driving to the main haunts at the break of dawn.
How to get the best Grand Canyon deals
Wow, what a rundown. If you’ve made it this far, looks like you’ve got some tours to book! There you have it – everything you need to know about planning a trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. With its easy accessibility, myriad organized tours, and variety of outdoor activities, stunning viewpoints, and diverse landscapes, it’s no wonder this part of the park is such a popular destination for adventure-seekers and nature-lovers alike.
You can compare all of the best Grand Canyon tours from Las Vegas to find which one suits your budget. If you’re after some extra thrills and memories to last a lifetime, take your pick of the exciting Grand Canyon helicopter tours, and if you want to get up close and personal with the Canyon floor and the wildlife that calls it home, be sure to book one of the Grand Canyon rafting trips.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!