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West Rim? South Rim? Grand Canyon Tours

Grand Canyon Tours. Whats the difference

One question I am asked often as a Las Vegas Tour Guide, is “Which Grand Canyon tour is the best?”  The Grand Canyon West Rim tour?  Or the Grand Canyon South Rim tour?

So here is a quick guide to understanding the basic differences in a tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West Rim and Grand Canyon South Rim.  You can’t go wrong with either one. They both offer amazing views of one of the greatest natural wonders on earth.  Yet, they are polar opposite of each other as well.

How to Decide What Tour

My simplest advice to guests is that if you are short on time and want to see the Grand Canyon.  Go west. As in taking the Grand Canyon West tour.
If you really want to experience the beauty and grandness of the Grand Canyon, go south. The Grand Canyon South Rim tour.

Grand Canyon West is a two and half hour drive from Las Vegas
Grand Canyon South Rim is a four and a half hour drive from Las Vegas

Grand Canyon West tours, we leave the Strip by 7am and return usually between 4 or 5pm
Canyon South tours, we leave the Strip by 7am and return usually between 8 and 9pm
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Distances

Both tours offer helicopter upgrades
Both tours usually offer 3 hours at the rim

Grand Canyon West is on the Hualapai Nation Reservation
Grand Canyon South is part of the Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Cayon West is the Grand Canyon at its rawest form.  Mostly flat, barren, no guardrails and not too much shelter from the elements
Grand Canyon South is more developed, has the guardrails, paved walkways and is handicap accessible

Grand Canyon West has the Skywalk/Glass Bridge
Grand Canyon South has more conveniences

Grand Canyon West is narrow, yet deep
Grand Canyon South is wide and shallow

Grand Canyon West Tours


Tourist Tip:   If you do the helicopter upgrade at the west rim, there is no need to do the skywalk, because you have just seen the best part of the canyon from the sky and most people agree, seeing it from the skywalk after doing the helicopter, is kind of a letdown.

At the west rim, you move around on their shuttle system to the two canyon overlooks plus a “western ranch” stop
At the South Rim, you can walk the rim of the canyon or ride from overlook to overlook on your tour vehicle

The views

This is what you are paying for, to see one of the greatest wonders of Mother Nature, the Grand Canyon! Don’t worry, both canyons will offer you unbelievable and breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon West – The end of the Grand Canyon is here, the Colorado River enters Lake Mead just passed the last overlook.  Here the canyon is narrow but deep. A downward “awe”
Grand Canyon South – The postcard shots you see online are usually from the south rim.  It’s wide and shallow, an outward “awe”

Either tour you choose, the Grand Canyon is an amazing sight to see.
West Rim is a short day, more rustic
South Rim is a long day, more developed (you also usually spend some time on Historic Route 66)

Fly Maverick Helicopters to the Grand Canyon

Although the tour components don’t change much from one tour operator to another, please read the details to make sure they offer what you want. Check the stops, amount of time they offer at the rims and if meals, water or snacks are included.

A small group tour usually means the tour vehicle seats less than 13 people. Gives a more intimate and tailored tour to the people on board.
A bus tour is usually the large tour bus that seats up to 55 people, equipped with bathroom, less intimate, driver/guide narration is usually routine.

I hope this helped and if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Also, if you have done either tour, I would like to know your thoughts on them.


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