Grand Canyon Transportation
A Word of Advice...
No matter which Rim you decide to visit - South, North or West - the expense of renting a car or fueling your own vehicle is comparable to the total cost of shuttle(s) if shuttle(s) are even an option, and you'll have greater freedom when it comes to where, when and how you decide to get around. Arizona (and likewise Nevada and Utah) is a vast state, so even in the cities and towns, you'll find that points of interest are too spread out to reach on foot, there is little to no public transportation, and cabs must be scheduled as opposed to caught (except in Las Vegas). A rental or private vehicle will become necessary at some point, so the most practical option is to drive yourself everywhere vs. trying to stick to shuttles and taxis.
At the South Rim, once you're inside the Park, take the free shuttle bus system from viewpoint to viewpoint and around Grand Canyon Village. You can also take the daily TransCanyon shuttle from the South Rim to the North Rim, and vice versa. This service is particularly useful to hikers and river rafters. Reservations are required; call 928-638-2820. During the season, from May 15 to October 15, the rim-to-rim shuttle leaves the North Rim at 7:00am and arrives at the South Rim at 11:30am; it leaves the South Rim at 1:30pm and arrives at the North Rim at 6:00pm. The fare is $85 per person one way; $160 per person round trip. TransCanyon Shuttle is also available for transportation to Marble Canyon (a popular upper canyon river rafting put-in), post-season service and charter service.
If you own or are renting a high-clearance vehicle, driving yourself is the best way to get to the West Rim. (If you're renting, be sure to check the rental car company's policies on driving off road, as required by the approach to Grand Canyon West.)
Once again, driving yourself is the most practical way to get to the North Rim. There are very few companies that provide Grand Canyon shuttles or taxi cabs exclusively from Flagstaff to the North Rim.
Regardless of the supreme practicality of driving oneself, many Grand Canyon visitors insist on finding a shuttle or taxi for a number of reasons. Oftentimes budget is a concern and people perceive shuttles or taxis to be a more affordable option (though that point is debatable depending on the vacation itinerary.) Sometimes visitors from outside the U.S. do not feel comfortable driving here (although there is nothing to be feared about doing so). Other times visitors are intimidated by twisting roads, weather conditions and driving at night. Finally, visitors often say they just want to be able to enjoy the scenery without having to pay attention to the road. Because all these objections to driving are certainly legitimate and understandable, there are shuttle and taxi alternatives.
Year-round, you can choose any of three routes to approach the South Rim: via Highway 64 from Williams to the south (main) entrance; via Highway 180 from downtown Flagstaff to the south (main) entrance; or via US-89 from east Flagstaff to the east entrance (known as Desert View). In the winter, your best bet for road conditions and prompt snow removal is Highway 64 from Williams.
The final 9-mile stretch of Diamond Bar Road is unpaved and irregular, and is made even trickier in inclement weather. Most visitors approach the West Rim from Las Vegas, a 123-mile drive via Highway 93 south over Hoover Dam. Go northeast on Pierce Ferry Road (County Highway 25) to Diamond Bar Road (County Highway 261). Go east on Diamond Bar Rd to Grand Canyon West. From Kingman, go north on Stockton Hill Road to Pierce Ferry Road to Diamond Bar Road. Diamond Bar Road ends at Grand Canyon West Airport, the entrance to the West Rim, where you'll buy your entrance package and optional upgrades. Take the mandatory park-and-ride shuttle into Grand Canyon West.
Approach the North Rim by first arriving in Jacob Lake, Arizona at the junction of US-89A and Highway 67. Take Highway 67 south 44 miles (approximately 1 hour) to the North Rim.
Shuttles and Taxis
Many South Rim visitors opt to take a shuttle or cab from the airport - commonly Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport - to Flagstaff for approximately $42 per person. This 2+ hour ride is available from several companies, with prices ranging from $38 - $42 per person. Additional shuttle or cab transportation is almost always required to get from Flagstaff to the South Rim, although some custom shuttle options from the Phoenix airport are available.
There are several companies that provide Grand Canyon shuttles or taxi cabs from Flagstaff to the South Rim, with prices averaging $42 - $58 per person. Shuttles to the Grand Canyon depart almost exclusively from Flagstaff, offering pickup and return to Flagstaff hotels.
Many West Rim visitors drive themselves to Meadview, AZ and then board the daily shuttle to Grand Canyon West, simply to avoid the final 9-mile stretch of Diamond Bar Road that is unpaved and irregular, not suited for vehicles with low clearance. The Park and Ride shuttle is $15 per person round trip. If you are interested in this service please contact (702) 260-6506 to make your reservation. This shuttle departs from Sky Station in Meadview, AZ and returns to Sky Station at the following times (passengers must return on the bus they came on): Depart 8:30am Return 1:30pm; Depart 9:30am Return 2:30pm; Depart 10:30am Return 3:30-4:00pm.
We are not aware of any shuttles or taxis from a major city (e.g. Las Vegas, Flagstaff or Phoenix) to the West Rim at this time. A rental or private vehicle is the only way to get yourself from your departure city to the Meadview shuttle stop.
Some North Rim visitors may want to take a shuttle or taxi to the North Rim and/or to popular Colorado River rafting put-in spots. There are very few companies that provide Grand Canyon shuttles or taxi cabs from Flagstaff to the North Rim, but those that do offer prices ranging from $158 - $200 per person. Shuttles to the Grand Canyon North Rim depart almost exclusively from Flagstaff, offering pickup and return to Flagstaff hotels (although custom options are available for additional rates.) You can also arrange with these shuttle and taxi companies to do a rim-to-rim shuttle ride, which is particularly helpful after a river rafting trip.
Van, Bus and Coach Tours
There are several van, bus and coach tours to the South Rim from Scottsdale/Phoenix, Sedona and Las Vegas. Typically, van tours offer free pick-up and return to your Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona or Las Vegas hotel. Plan for a full 12 - 18 hour day and expect to see some of the Southwest's most beautiful and varied desert vistas along the way. Many van, bus and coach tour companies provide excellent guidance and education about the area while you ride in climate-controlled comfort.
There are several van, bus and coach tours to the West Rim, but they essentially all originate from Las Vegas (sometimes Los Angeles, CA). There are no ground tours to Grand Canyon West from Scottsdale/Phoenix or Sedona. Typically, van tours offer free pick-up and return to your Las Vegas hotel. Plan for a full 12 - 18 hour day and expect to see desert vistas and Hoover Dam along the way. Many van, bus and coach tour companies provide excellent guidance and education about the area while you ride in climate-controlled comfort.
We are not aware of any ground tours that go exclusively to the North Rim at this time (there is a ground tour that includes the entire Grand Circle of northern Arizona and southern/southeastern Utah.)
Air and Helicopter Tours
There are several helicopter and air tours over the South Rim from Scottsdale/Phoenix, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon/Tusayan. Many helicopter and air tour operators offer free pick-up and return to your Scottsdale, Phoenix or Las Vegas hotel; tours from the South Rim require that you get yourself to the Grand Canyon Airport near Tusayan by private car, taxi or as part of a combination ground/air tour package. Plan for a 1 - 7 hour round-trip adventure (including transportation and time at the terminal) and expect to see some of the Southwest's most beautiful and varied points of interest along the way. The Grand Canyon helicopter and air tour companies' pilots provide excellent guidance and education about the area as you soar over the landscape.
There are several helicopter and air tours to the West Rim but they all depart from Las Vegas exclusively. There are no air or helicopter tours to Grand Canyon West from Scottsdale/Phoenix or Sedona. Many helicopter and air tour operators offer free pick-up and return to your Las Vegas hotel; tours from the West Rim require that you get yourself to Grand Canyon West by private car or as part of a combination ground/air tour package. Plan for a 3 - 7 hour round-trip adventure (including transportation and time at the terminal) and expect to see some of the Southwest's most beautiful and varied points of interest along the way. The Grand Canyon helicopter and air tour companies' pilots provide excellent guidance and education about the area as you soar over the landscape.
We are not aware of any air tours to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park at this time. However, there is a 30-minute air tour from Las Vegas to Bar-10 Ranch, a decidedly remote 'off-the-grid' vacation lodge and ranch located on the Arizona Strip outside the National Park but only 9 miles from that portion of the North Rim, located 80 unpaved miles from St. George, UT.
Many Grand Canyon visitors confuse the presence of the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the South Rim with the opportunity to travel to the Grand Canyon directly by train. But if you are a railway-travel enthusiast, you are in luck! Amtrak has a station in Flagstaff and a station in Williams. Passengers ultimately destined for the South Rim via Williams will detrain at the Williams Junction stop. A free shuttle van takes passengers from the Williams Junction stop to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel in Williams, where the Grand Canyon Railway - a professional tour that requires a separate ticket from your Amtrak fare - departs for the South Rim each morning.
There is no train transportation to the West Rim. The closest train depot is in Kingman, where upon you would need to rent a high-clearance vehicle) to visit the West Rim. (Be sure to get permission from the rental agency to drive the 9-mile unpaved portion of Diamond Bar Road at the final approach to Grand Canyon West.)
There is no train transportation to the North Rim.
Combination Air/Ground Tours
There are several ground/air tours to the South Rim available from Scottsdale/Phoenix and Las Vegas. Typically, combination air/ground tours offer free pick-up and return to your Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona or Las Vegas hotel and either use ground transport to get to the Canyon where you board a helicopter to take a tour over the landscape OR you fly from your point of origin to the Grand Canyon, then take a ground tour around the South Rim. Either way, plan for a 3 - 8 hour day and expect to see some stunning landscapes during your journey.
There are several ground/air tours to the West Rim available exclusively from Las Vegas. Typically, combination air/ground tours offer free pick-up and return to your Las Vegas hotel and either use ground transport to get to the Canyon where you board a helicopter to take a tour over the landscape OR you fly from your point of origin to the Grand Canyon, then take a ground tour around the South Rim. Either way, plan for a 3 - 8 hour day and expect to see some iconic Southwestern desert views, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.
We are not aware of any ground/air combination tours to the North Rim at this time.
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