How to See Grand Canyon West or "West Rim"
Grand Canyon West is a Native American Tribal Park owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Nation. Open year-round, it garnered sudden international fame with the opening of its star attraction in 2007: the Grand Canyon Skywalk. In addition to the Skywalk, Grand Canyon West also has an airport, café, Western town, Indian Village, and an amphitheatre where visitors can watch Native American dances or cultural performances. Several Grand Canyon helicopter tour companies operate bases at Grand Canyon West offering flights to the bottom of the canyon for smooth water pontoon boat rides on the Colorado River. Helicopters can also fly directly from Las Vegas over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead to land at the bottom of the canyon at Grand Canyon West.
At the present time, Grand Canyon West is most easily accessible on a Las Vegas package tour by Motorcoach, airplane or helicopter. It is possible to get there by car, however, it takes 3 hours each way from Las Vegas passing by Hoover Dam. The last 15 miles of the main access road are unpaved. Though regularly graded, the unpaved section of the road it is still very bumpy and deeply rutted in some areas, and prone to washing out in heavy rain or snowstorms. Visitors are strongly discouraged from driving rental cars down this road as doing so constitutes “off-road driving,” which would void your insurance policy, thus leaving you personally liable for any damage you might sustain. (Note: paving of this road is slated for completion soon, which should shorten the drive time to Grand Canyon West considerably.)
Grand Canyon West has two primary viewpoints, from which the depth of the Grand Canyon is very pronounced and the Colorado River more easily visible. At 4,000’ above sea level, Grand Canyon West is a true desert landscape. Grand Canyon West is very pleasant in early spring and late fall, and bearable in wintertime. Late spring and summer days at Grand Canyon West are very hot.
There is no lodging in the immediate area of Grand Canyon West save for a handful of rustic cabins. The nearest hotel lodging is in Kingman, Arizona, 90 minutes’ drive away; Laughlin, Nevada, 2 hours away; or Las Vegas, 3 hours away. Grand Canyon West is a good choice for Las Vegas visitors with limited time for a Grand Canyon experience. It is also an excellent option for those who want to get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon without hiking or taking a mule ride. Families traveling with very young children, extreme seniors, or anyone in less than robust health should carefully consider visiting to Grand Canyon West due to its dry desert climate and present lack of infrastructure.