The majority of visitors come to the South Rim each year. Compare 5 million annual South Rim visitors to 1 million yearly North Rim visitors and 200,000 annual visitors at the West Rim. There is a good reason people flock to the South Rim; it's part of Grand Canyon National Park; it's stunningly beautiful; it's more developed by way of visitors centers and services; there's more lodging nearby; you can hike, backpack and camp; it's easier to access; it's more centrally located for Arizona visitors; and it offers more activity and tour variety.
The South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per private vehicle. Once inside the park, take advantage of the free ranger-led talks, and spend time at overlooks, visitors centers, and walk or hike short distances.
Summer is THE most popular season for visiting Grand Canyon National Park. Keep in mind that with good weather comes large crowds, scarce parking and busy viewpoints and visitors centers.
Driving yourself is the number one way to get to the South Rim. Many South Rim visitors opt to take a shuttle or cab from the airport - commonly Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport - to Flagstaff, and another shuttle or taxi to the South Rim. Shuttles and cabs for each leg are available from several companies, with prices ranging from $38 - $42 per person.
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.
At the South Rim, visitors with a moderate budget have tons of choices when it comes to lodging, tours and activities. Nearly anything you can find on theCanyon.com is available for someone traveling on a modest budget. Look for high-quality, affordable lodging inside the Park if you can get it (all the lodges, with the exception of El Tovar, have mid-range level rates), or alternatively in Tusayan, Williams or Flagstaff (or even Sedona if that's part of your travel itinerary.) Moderately-priced tours are available by train, helicopter, van, Jeep, ATV or airplane.
The North Rim is a very remote destination there is very limited lodging and services, and one visitors center. There is little variety among the activities and tours offered; there are no commercial tours to the North Rim at this time (although whitewater and smoothwater rafting trips begin north of the North Rim at Lees Ferry) and once there, activities are typically limited to camping, hiking, mountain biking, walking, mule rides and river rafting. If you're willing to make the trek, the North Rim's beautiful rugged views and trails do offer world-class hiking, backpacking, camping and river rafting opportunities, which makes the North Rim a fantastic choice for visitors who seek a more primeval, natural, quiet and uncrowded Grand Canyon experience.
The North Rim is open for the summer, between mid-May and mid-October, and sees about one-fifth of the annual visitors of the South Rim. Don't miss out on seeing what some argue are even more spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per private vehicle. Once inside the park, take advantage of the free ranger-led talks, and spend time at overlooks, the visitors center, and walk or hike a range of distances.
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, but those that do offer prices ranging from $158 - $200 per person. 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.
We are not aware of any ground tours to the North Rim at this time. You must drive yourself - which is what we highly recommend - or take a shuttle or taxi. 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.
At the North Rim, look for the budget-friendliest accommodations in a campground; campsites in and outside of the National Park run $6 - $50 per night based on the site and the season. If you prefer a roof over your head and a mattress under it, look for the least expensive available lodging in Fredonia, Kanab or Page. But be conscious that the cost of driving 82 - 162 additional miles to these outlying towns may cancel out the savings in your nightly motel rate. Or perhaps you've always wanted to take a mule ride from the North Rim down to the bottom of the Canyon, with an overnight stay at Phantom Ranch; a moderate-budget can help you achieve that dream. We are not currently aware of any guided ground tours to the North Rim.
There is, however, 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.
The West Rim is emerging as a destination, and it's on tribal reservation land, so it offers fewer options for lodging, services, visitor centers and variety when it comes to activities and tours. Because it's not a part of Grand Canyon National Park but actually owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe on tribal land, Grand Canyon West is more a tour destination and pay-for-admission attraction than the National Park. Its proximity to Las Vegas, unique Skywalk attraction, beautiful rugged views and plethora of Las Vegas tour packages make the West Rim a fantastic choice for more and more of the Grand Canyon-bound each year.
The West Rim is open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. Because it's on tribal land, the National Park entrance fee does not apply and Golden Age passes are not applicable. Entry to Grand Canyon West starts around $44 per person. but the least expensive entrance package that includes a walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk - the highlight of Grand Canyon West - is twice that price at $88 per person.
Summer is THE most popular season for visiting Grand Canyon West. Keep in mind that with good weather comes large crowds, scarce parking and busy viewpoints and visitors centers. Year-round, be prepared to experience full sun and warm temperatures; wear tons of sunscreen and/or a wide brimmed hat and drink plenty of water.
Anecdotally, we know that most Grand Canyon West Rim visitors travel to the destination and spend time at overlooks including the Skywalk, the visitors center, Hualapai cultural presentation, and walking short distances.
We are not aware of any shuttles or taxis to the West Rim at this time. A word of advice: Drive yourself or take a professional tour. Driving yourself is a great way to get to the West Rim IF you own or rent a high-clearance vehicle (if renting, be sure to check the rental car company's policies on driving off road, as required by the approach to Grand Canyon West.) 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 times indicated below (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.
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.
A 3-hour (each way) day trip from Las Vegas, the West Rim of the Grand Canyon is today one of the most popular Grand Canyon destinations, but its remote location is nearly devoid of lodging and services. In fact, there is only one choice for accommodations at the Rim, and one more within 14 miles. Because of the scarcity of hotels at the West Rim, most visitors wisely choose to stay overnight in Kingman (73 miles), Peach Springs (116 miles), Laughlin, NV (111 miles) or Las Vegas, NV (123 miles.)
The West Rim is THE premier destination for tours originating in Las Vegas, and it offers several singular tour options not available at the South or North Rims: the Grand Canyon Skywalk; helicopter landings in the Inner Canyon; the road you can drive to the bottom; and one-day Colorado River rafting trips. If you have just a half-day to see the West Rim, take a helicopter or air tour from Las Vegas. If you have more time, consider a bus tour with a stop at Hoover Dam. Helicopter and air tours start about $250 per person, and bus/coach tours are affordable, typically starting under $120 per person.
Grand Canyon trips that begin from Williams, Flagstaff or Sedona are most likely to include the South Rim, but you can visit any of the rims from these originating cities. Williams is about 60 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and is a charming town located on the Historic Route 66. Williams is where the Grand Canyon Railway departs from and is only 35 miles from Flagstaff. Williams hotels are the closest to the Grand Canyon without actually staying at the Grand Canyon.
Flagstaff is about 79 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and is a great place find a hotel you're looking to explore more of the Southwest. Flagstaff is a vibrant town chock full of outdoor enthusiasts and local breweries. Depending on the time of year, visitors can go skiing and sledding in Flagstaff, go for scenic hike up Mt. Humphreys or any one of the innumerable hikes in this part of Arizona. Flagstaff hotels make a great basecamp for anyone wanting to spend a few days exploring.
Sedona is known for its beautiful red rocks and rare energy. Located about 110 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, visitors will encounter nothing short of a stunningly experience. Sedona offers luxury resort spas, cozy bed and breakfasts and cabins along the creek. If you're more of a luxury traveler, a Sedona hotel might be the way to go when visiting the Grand Canyon.