Visiting Grand Canyon is one of the must-do activities if you are in the Vegas region. Here we’ll suggest the best ways to see this natural wonder (and surrounding areas) if you are on a tight budget or if you can spend whatever you want!
There are 2 ‘cheap’ ways to visit Grand Canyon from Las Vegas: by bus using one of the many bus tours available, and by car.
The cheaper bus tours charges a flat fee of around 80 dollars per person. However, make sure you shop around and read the fine print: some Grand Canyon bus tours have additional charges, such as fuel charge (why can’t they include this from the outset?) and taxes, whilst others quote a flat fee which includes all additional fees (including entrance fees, booking fees, taxes etc): moreover, the best bus tours also offer a complimentary (free) basic ‘meal snack’ with a basic beverage. I always email and ask people to confirm the final price after all additional charges, so I have something in writing if things ‘go wrong’ and sudden fees come out of nowhere.
A potentially cheaper way to enjoy this great attraction (especially if you are 3 or more people using one car) is by car. The 24 hour car rental fee varies, but if you add about 100 dollars in petrol and the 20 dollars entrance fee, you can see how it may be a cheap option to consider. The negative side of renting a car to visit Grand Canyon from Vegas is that we’re talking about a solid 4 hour drive (no matter where you go, either North or South Rim), with a total of 8 hours’ drive! It is therefore not a relaxing option (especially if you are the only one driving), and that is why many opt for the bus tour. However, if you don’t mind driving or if you are alternating drivers, then it’s an option, mostly because of its ‘positive side’: the positive aspects of renting a car is that you will be free to stay at Grand Canyon much longer (the bus tours keep to a tight schedule, obviously) and you’ll be able to visit any other worthwhile attractions in the area, such as Hoover Dam and Zion National Park (which is a very pleasant drive even if you decide to stay in the car all the way through).
Some say that the North Rim is more unique and possibly less frequented, so this option may be a good one if you are driving to Grand Canyon from Vegas. However, Grand Canyon North Rim is closed for winter, whilst the South Rim is open all year round.
Note: The Grand Canyon can be enjoyed at different levels; most bus visitors will have around 6 hours to have lunch or go for a walk around the area, hang out on the Rim, take photos and videos and that’s it…Given the long bus trip there and back, 4 hours drive each day. Moreover, you will be at the destination in the afternoon. It is often said that Grand Canyon is best at dawn and during sunset, because of the magical light and colour ‘play’ on the canyons and rocks. It is truly a magical experience during those times, but if you are going by bus you cannot, of course, be there during those 2 events. Similarly, if you want to hike down and swim in the river (it would take up to 14 hours to do so!), or go on independent excursions (there could be so much to do and see!), you are going to have to drive by yourself there and plan your own enjoyment of this magnificent area. Perhaps renting a very comfortable, large car (or an RV) where you can sleep may be an option if you are on a tight budget. Having said all of this, do not discount the bus option because it IS the cheapest and you DO get to ‘sample’ the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Once you have done this, and you know the area a little, you can always return sometime in the future, and rent a car or RV and stay as long as you want.
Other nearby attraction you can visit if you have rented a car are Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon.
The official Grand Canyon National Park website (see link) offers specific information you may need to know (including other nice nearby attractions you may wish to visit) if you are driving. You can find it at http://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
One of the most expensive (but breath-taking) ways to visit Grand Canyon is by helicopter or airplane. There are several helicopter rides departing from Las Vegas, all hundreds of dollars of course, but if you are after the memories of a lifetime then you should, in my opinion, try and book a helicopter ride. We hesitated a lot (after all, it’s a lot of money!) but then we splashed out once and, to be honest, we never looked back. If you can overcome the fear of flying in a helicopter, this is arguably the best way to enjoy the Grand Canyon. Most rides leave early in the morning; this means that you’ll be back in your Vegas resort for lunch! For more details information, go to our Grand Canyon by helicopter or airplane page.