|Parks: 1||Miles: 250||Days: 1||Hours: 4.5|
Can you visit the Grand Canyon National Park from Las Vegas in one day? Yes!
However, in order to do this efficiently, we may have to visit a part of the park that you’re not as familiar with. Read on to find out!
Which Part of the Grand Canyon Should you Visit?
There are two sections of the Grand Canyon that you can visit when coming from Vegas. One is a much longer drive than the other, but it may be worth it, depending on the specific sights you want to see while there.
Option #1: South Rim (4.5 hours, 280 miles/451 km one way)
The most popular spot to see the Grand Canyon is at the South Rim at Grand Canyon Village, AZ. This spot however is about 4.5 hours away (280 miles). The South Rim is home to many of the well-known spots that you’d typically want to see: the Bright Angel Trail, the Village, Hopi House, Yavapai Point and the South Rim Trail.
The entrance fee at the South Rim is $35 for a personal vehicle, and is valid for 7 days.
The round trip from Las Vegas to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon would be about 560 miles (901 km), and would take about 9 hours. Visiting the South Rim from LV makes for an extremely long day of driving.
Option #2: West Rim (2.25 hours, 125 miles/201 km one way)
The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is not managed by the National Park Service, but rather the Hualapai Tribe. The West rim has the famed Skywalk glass bridge that stretches out over the canyon’s floor. The West Rim is about 125 miles away from Las Vegas’ city center, and will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive one way.
General Admission at the West Rim starts at about $65 per person, and goes up from there if you decide to include meals and/or helicopter or boat rides. The America the Beautiful National Park pass will not grant you entry to this part of the park.
The round trip from Las Vegas to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon would be about 250 miles (402 km), and would take about 4.5 hours.
Making a Decision
Due to the much shorter drive, we decided to make this road trip visit the West Rim. It is simply the most efficient way to see the Grand Canyon when coming from Las Vegas. The South Rim has much more to do, so much in fact that you could easily spend 3-4 days there. However, the West Rim is smaller, only has about a day’s worth of activities and is much, much closer to Vegas.
Is there a Tour Available Instead?
An organized tour makes it easy, as they handle everything from logistics to a scenic itinerary. Some tours will take you by motor coach, and the more expensive tours will take you by helicopter, which only takes about 15 minutes to get there.
If you want an all-inclusive tour experience where you don’t have to drive an inch, we recommend the Grand Canyon West Rim Tour.
This guided tour includes bus transportation from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon West Rim. It also covers all fees, and hits the top 5 visitor spots at the West Rim, including the Skywalk. It’s a full day trip with your meals included.
Grand Canyon West Rim Itinerary
If you decide to visit the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, you’ll find yourself with about 4.5 hours less time on the road, which can then be put to use by exploring more of the canyon itself. The only downside to this section of the park is that the entrance fees can be a little expensive if traveling with a family. Each person in your group will need to get a ticket, which start at $65 a piece for park entrance and Skywalk access. The tickets rise to over $300 per person if you want to add in a meal and a helicopter or boat rides.
6:30 AM: Leave Las Vegas
Start by heading south towards Henderson, NV on Interstate 11. You’ll be passing over Hoover Dam about 30 minutes into the drive.
After crossing Hoover Dam, you’ll enter Arizona via US Route 93. You’ll then turn left onto Pierce Ferry Road near Dolan Springs. About 45 miles (72 km) later, you’ll arrive at Grand Canyon West.
9 AM: Arrive at Grand Canyon West
We suggest you purchase your entrance tickets ahead of time online.
Grand Canyon West is open every day of the year, including all major holidays, from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm daily. The last tickets are sold at 6 pm from March to November and vary as the days get longer or shorter going into and out of the summer.
Free parking and complimentary shuttles are offered at the Grand Canyon West Rim Welcome Center. No private cars are allowed into the rest of the park.
Plan on arriving as soon as the park opens at 9 AM. Then, enter through the gate and start exploring! We came up with three activities to do while inside the park, which should fill up your day here. The West Rim has a shuttle service that will transport you around the park. Hop on the shuttle and let’s start the day!
9:30 AM: Shuttle to Eagle Point
Eagle Point is the first stop off the shuttle on Grand Canyon West. It is named Eagle Point because of the eagle-shaped rock formation you can see standing from the rim. Your next three activities are at this stop.
9:45 AM: The Skywalk
Expect the Skywalk to be insanely busy. This is the West Rim’s main attraction, which means it sees a ton of visitors daily. The crowds will probably keep you from fully enjoying the view completely, but it’s still worth stopping by.
The Skywalk stretches 70 feet out over the canyon’s floor from the edge. The floors are made of super-strength glass that could hold over 70 fully loaded 747 passenger jets. The floor of the Grand Canyon is 4,000 feet below the Skywalk.
10:30 AM: Hiking the West Rim Trail
The West Rim Trail starts at Eagle Point, and is a roughly 13-mile trail that features views of the Colorado River. It is suitable for all skill levels. However, be very careful and mindful of where you walk. There are no guardrails or any sort of fence to protect you from falling over the edge!
1:30 PM: Late Lunch at Sky View Restaurant
Right next to The Skywalk, you can eat at Skyview Restaurant. They offer traditional café foods like burgers, chicken tenders, and sandwiches as well as beer and wine.
2:30 PM: Hike to Guano Point
The second stop off the shuttle is Guano Point. This spot is the favorite of many who visit the West Rim.
The Highpoint Hike at Guano Point has slightly rougher terrain and is worth the walk to see some of the most beautiful views of Grand Canyon West and the Colorado River below. Once you reach the “High Point” of the trail, you’ll get a 360′ view of the Grand Canyon and the old tramway tower used to access the old mine that used to be there.
Expect to be in this area of the park for about 2 hours.
4:30 PM: Catch the Shuttle Back to Your Vehicle
Take the Grand Canyon West shuttle from Guano Point back to the parking area. By now, it should be around 5PM or so, which is about time to hit the road back to Las Vegas.
6:00 PM: Arrive back to Las Vegas
After a full day of exploring, you are now back in Las Vegas by dinner time. Depending on the time of year, if it is still light out, now would be a good time to make your stop at the Hoover Dam. There is a huge parking garage just after you pass over the dam. Park there, and walk the grounds of the dam, and over the dam itself.