Which Section of the Grand Canyon is Best for Me?

Grand Canyon is an amazing destination—one of the best places on Earth to visit. It is vast. There are several sections to choose from when making your plan to visit. We want to help you understand a bit more about each, so you can make the best choice for your visit. Saying that the Grand Canyon is a big place, is a major understatement.  Not only is it massive in area, but the elevation and topography vary so widely, even within its geographic boundaries, that its area seems larger in person than it displays on a map. The Grand Canyon is in the northwest corner of Arizona, and is near Utah and Nevada.
There are a number of “Rims” or sections of the Grand Canyon:
  • South Rim, within the National Park
  • North Rim, within the National Park
  • West Rim, on the Hualapai Reservation
  • Toroweap, in a remote area on the North side of the National Park
  • Havasu Canyon and Havasu Falls, on the Havasupai Reservation, on the South side

The South Rim

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most developed area, and the most well-known. It lies within Grand Canyon National Park.  Most visitors to the Grand Canyon visit this section.  It offers a variety of lodging options within the park, restaurants, shops, and a shuttle transportation system.  There are also lodging options in Tusayan, just outside of the park.

The views from within the different points at the South Rim are wider and more expansive than other sections.  There are trails along and below the rim area, as well as trailheads for much longer trails that continue deep down into the canyon.  

Just outside the park, the town of Tusayan also offers many lodging and dining options, often and at a lower price than within the National Park boundaries.  There is an IMAX film at the visitor center and multiple helicopter tours, jeep tours and other activities.  A free shuttle connects Tusayan with the National Park most of the year, offering visitors an easy way to connect.

You can reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Hwy. 64. There are actually two entrances to the South Rim.  The South Entrance takes you to the center of the South Rim’s accommodations, visitor centers and restaurants. The East Entrance is farther out, less crowded and of course has different views.  National Park Express offers Grand Canyon Tours from Las Vegas to the South Rim.  
There is also Shuttle Service between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon South Rim for guests who would like to stay a few nights in the canyon area.
South Rim Highlights:
  • Incredible Vistas with the widest views
  • Most accommodation options in the Grand Canyon area
  • Restaurant and shopping
  • Shuttle bus transportation within the park and to Tusayan
  • Miles of paved and dirt paths for exploring 

The North Rim

Within the Grand Canyon National Park, but on the opposite side from the South Rim, lies the majestic North Rim.  While it is only an average of 10 miles across between the South and North Rims, it takes about 5 hours to drive from one to the other. They are about 200 miles (322 km) apart when driving. And, although just ten miles apart, the scenery, climate and views are quite different.  The North Rim sits at a higher elevation, offering a greener landscape with more pine trees and more green vegetation all around.  It is a cooler climate than the South Rim, which is more of a high desert climate. 
The road to access the North Rim is only open during summer months, usually May to October. The high elevation of the road leaves it snow-covered much of the winter.  At the North Rim, there are accommodations in the Lodge as well as a number of cabins, all of which must be booked well in advance due to limited space. Since there is less lodging, the North Rim rarely seems crowded. This section receives only about 10 percent of the National Park’s total visitors.  It is always less crowded and a is great experience for those lucky enough to have planned for a place to stay, or who choose a Day Trip from Las Vegas. National Park Express offers Private Day Tours from Las Vegas to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is the closest to Utah.  The park entrance is 30 miles south of Jacob Lake, Arizona, on Highway 67. The visitor center and another 14 miles south of the entrance.  

North Rim Highlights
  • Higher elevation, greener vegetation
  • Less crowded
  • Limited accommodations
  • More remote location
  • Outstanding views of the canyon
  • Open only during summer months

The West Rim

Grand Canyon West is the name of the destination at the West Rim.  This is not part of the National Park, and is located within the Hualapai Reservation.  This is the location of the Skywalk glass bridge. Admission to Grand Canyon West must be purchased at the entrance and is not associated with any National Park fees or passes.  Day tours do include admission as part of the tour.
Grand Canyon West is operated by the Hualapai tribe.  It is located about 240 miles west of the South Rim, about a 4.5 hour drive. This section is the closest part of the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, just over 2 hours.  Many day visitors from Las Vegas area will choose this destination due to its proximity.  Grand Canyon West Tours are available from Las Vegas.  

Inside Grand Canyon West, there are different viewpoints such as Eagle Point and Guano Point, as well as displays of Native American Dwellings. Visitors can find arts, crafts and jewelry for sale. The Hualapai Ranch also offers a number of cabins for overnight guests.  

The famous Skywalk is a glass bridge about 10 feet wide and stretches 70 feet out over the edge of the canyon. Guests are not allowed to bring bags, purses or cameras on the Skywalk, but these items can be secured in a locker.   Professional photos are available for purchase after your Skywalk adventure.

West Rim Highlights
  • Optional upgrade to include Skywalk Glass Bridge
  • Separate admission fees 
  • Closest drive from Las Vegas
  • Native American cultural displays

Havasu Canyon

Havasu Canyon and Havasu Falls are in a section south of Grand Canyon National Park, on land owned by the Havasupai tribe. Havasu Falls is one of the most picturesque waterfalls on Earth.  The unique color combination of the red rocks with the vivid, blue-green waters offer an amazingly beautiful scene.  “Havasupai” means people of the blue-green waters.  This area is accessible by a ten-mile hike which is somewhat strenuous.  Advance permits are required, which are for 3 nights only–no single day or night permits are granted.  Entrance fees and environmental uses fees are required by the reservation, these start at approximately $300 per person.  
Havasu Canyon Highlights
  • Beautifully colored scenery and waterfalls
  • Swimming available at the falls
  • Difficult to access, requires 10-mile hike each way
  • Costs start at $300 per person fees into the area and advance planning with permits

Toroweap Overlook

An extremely remote, dramatic and stunning destination, Toroweap offers views from 3,000 feet (915 m) over the North side of the Grand Canyon. This area lies within Grand Canyon National Park. The sheer cliffs allow visitors to fully feel the depth of the canyon.  The topography is also unique, with volcanic cinder cones and ancient lava flows.  Visitors can als view rapids, far below, on the Colorado River.  

Toroweap, also called Tuweap, is reached by rough, unpaved roads from either Fredonia, Arizona or St. George, Utah.  A four-wheel drive is necessary to navigate the route. There is no lodging, food, or gas in the area. The National Park Service maintains the Tuweep ranger station 6 miles north of the overlook. Due to its remote location, only visitors prepared for very rough roads and changes in the weather should visit Toroweap.  Summer rains or winter snows could make the road impassable. This is one of the most adventurous areas of the Grand Canyon.

Toroweap Highlights
  • Dramatic views over steep drop off
  • Remote, away from crowds
  • Difficult access, requires 4×4 and preparation
  • Caution required due to terrain and weather conditions
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