The OP (Original Poster) on TripAdvisor said it, not me: he’s asking “yet another Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Question!” They get asked those questions on TripAdvisor a lot, certainly. Why? Because if you’re going to Las Vegas anyway, you’re so close to the Grand Canyon that you’d almost be a fool not to go. But there’s a certain mindset that seems to affect the Las Vegas visitor when considering a visit to the Grand Canyon: invariably, 99% of them want to do a Las Vegas Grand Canyon tour in one day and that’s it. OP ‘daruwala’ is no exception. He/she writes:
We are traveling from NY to LAX, spend 4 days there, then travel to LV (will have rental car). In LV, we have 2 full days. Sunday and Monday, at end of August. We want to go to the Grand Canyon, but it has to be a day trip. Do not want to spend night there. Leave early Sunday am and come back by 10pm, back to LV. Question: is it worth going to the Grand Canyon West/Skywalk area, which is about a 3 hr drive. Or what would you guys recommend? We have 4 adults and 2 kids ages 6 & 8. One more question: What is a better option? Driving a rental car or hop on a bus tour from LV to GC? Is the drive safe with family?
On Trip Advisor, we panelists spend a lot of time trying to convince our Las Vegas bound friends to reconsider this day trip mindset. DetroitTigerFan says:
Honestly? I would not do a Las Vegas to Grand Canyon daytrip with young kids. What’s the point of making them sit TEN hours in a car for a couple of hours rushing around the park? If you want a quality day trip, consider going to Zion National Park. It’s a 2.5-3 hour drive from Las Vegas and is a more accessible park for a very short visit with kids. It’s a beautiful park and is a much better option than Grand Canyon West, imo.
On a separate Las Vegas to Grand Canyon thread, Las Vegas resident and TripAdvisor contributor Mike45LC suggests the following alternative:
Some of my family did the Las Vegas to Grand Canyon airplane tour to the South Rim and transferred to the helicopter for a tour from the South Rim. As noted above, the helicopter does not go to the floor of the Canyon. It was great, but expensive. The plane/helicopter combo cut down significantly the amount of time for the Las Vegas to Grand Canyon trip. If you are short for time, it is a decent (but expensive) way to visit the Grand Canyon.
But even Mike45LC acknowledges that:
However, if you have the time, drive and spend one night. Arrive at the Grand Canyon before sunset. Wake up early and view sunrise. Then, whenever you are done with the Grand Canyon, back to Vegas. Much less expensive, and more satisfying.
As alluded to in the first paragraph, the Las Vegas to Grand Canyon question is posed so often on TripAdvisor and other popular travel forums that one fine day I decided to rank the different ways one could do the Las Vegas to Grand Canyon trip in order of quality of experience. They are as follows:
1. Rent a car and drive yourself to Grand Canyon National Park South Rim (4.5 hours each way from Las Vegas). Stay for 1 night, 2 if you can manage it.
2. Rent a car and drive yourself to Grand Canyon South Rim for a day visit. Long day, but doable.
3. Take an airplane/ground tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim. Las Vegas Grand Canyon tour packages offered by Scenic/Grand Canyon Airlines, Maverick Airlines or Vision Holidays. Durations range from 7-9 hours hotel to hotel, include lunch, prices vary widely also.
4. Take an airplane/ground tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. See #3 for list of companies that offer them. Add-on options include the Grand Canyon Skywalk and/or helicopter flight to the canyon floor for pontoon boat rides.
5. Take a helicopter from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West and land at the bottom of the canyon. Companies offering tours are: Papillon/Grand Canyon Helicopters, Maverick Helicopters, Sundance Helicopters, HeliUSA. Duration for “basic” tour such as the Grand Celebration Classic ~4 hours hotel to hotel; extended packages including pontoon boat ride and Grand Canyon Skywalk, ~7 hours hotel to hotel. Prices again can range widely.
6. Take a Las Vegas Grand Canyon West bus tour. Add-on options also include the Grand Canyon Skywalk and/or helicopter flight to the canyon floor for pontoon boat rides. Lunch included, plus hotel shuttle. Approximate duration 12 hours hotel to hotel.
7. Drive yourself from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West. Drive time: ~2.5 hours each way. Upon arrival and payment of basic Tribal Park Entrance Fee, Rim-Top Shuttle Tickets (mandatory), etc., add-on activity options include the Grand Canyon Skywalk and helicopter flights to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. For more information on self-drive Las Vegas Grand Canyon West touring, visit www.grandcanyonwest.com
8. Take a Las Vegas Grand Canyon South Rim bus tour. Add-on option to take a 30-minute helicopter overflight. Hotel pickup/dropoff and lunch included. Duration ~15 hours hotel to hotel.
So there, as they say, you have it. Long story short, “do it right and stay the night.” If you can make the time for it, you won’t regret it. But if a day is all you have, you can still accomplish a lot.
Take a look at this video for more information on Las Vegas Grand Canyon tour options: