This article highlights the Grand Canyon West Rim, a recreation area offering access to viewpoints and cultural attractions.
The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most famous natural wonders.
Its colorful layers, created over thousands of years by the Colorado River, leave in awe those who have the opportunity to see it in person.
Even though many people are familiar with how the Grand Canyon looks, I am not sure most of those understand the true magnitude of this geological feature located in the state of Arizona.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles or 446 kilometers long. It is contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation, and the Navajo Nation.
Therefore, the canyon occupies an extensive amount of terrain and can be accessed from different points (not only from the National Park).
For those in search of beauty, adventure, and the closest option from Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon West Rim is a wonderful option!
About the Grand Canyon West Rim
For the record, let’s set some things straight. The Grand Canyon West shelters a segment of the main canyon formed by the Colorado River.
This area has been named Grand Canyon West to differentiate it from the North and South rims which are inside the Grand Canyon National Park. The Hualapai tribe are in charge of managing this piece of land and have built extensive facilities for the enjoyment of visitors.
To keep things in perspective, the distance from the Grand Canyon Village (South Rim) to the Grand Canyon West Rim is between 240 to 300 miles (depending on the route taken). It can take 4-5 hours to get from one point to the other. So, we are talking about the same canyon in here but there are huge distances involved. Take that into consideration when planning your trip.
About the Hualapai
The Hualapai Tribe is a sovereign nation governed by an executive and judicial branch and a tribal council. Their capital is located in Peach Springs, Arizona. Their territory stretches along the southern side of the Grand Canyon.
In 2007, the Hualapai opened to the public the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass bridge encrusted on the edge of the canyon. This development and other facilities have brought thousands of visitors to the nation’s land.
How to Get to the Grand Canyon West Rim
The two major, closest cities are Las Vegas, Nevada (130 miles), and Kingman, Arizona (80 miles). Another option is to arrive at Phoenix’s airport which is located 260 miles from this rim.
There are two ways to reach the area:
- By car (independently) – the ride will take 2 hours each way from Las Vegas. Do your research before committing to this option since parts of the road which takes you to the visitors’ center are unpaved (can break some rented vehicles agreements)
- With a tour company (guided from Las Vegas) – if you take this option, transportation to the area is included in your package. This is an entire day affair. The drive will take 3 hours and does not feel monotonous because there are several stops along the way (this is why it takes longer than by independent vehicle). For the ride back, you are probably going to be dead tired and fall asleep in the bus.
Important Note: If you are visiting the Grand Canyon West independently, make sure your GPS is guiding you to the correct location. Check the map and make sure the GPS is taking you north of Kingman, Arizona. If the GPS is taking you north of Williams or Flagstaff, you are going to the National Park, not to the west rim.
Coordinates are as follow: Latitude: 36d0’43.55″N, Longitude: 113d48’40.50″W
Attractions at the Grand Canyon West Rim
It doesn’t matter if you visit the area independently or with a tour, your first stop will be the visitor’s center.
Each visitor is required to buy a package to enter the facilities. The price of the package varies depending on what you want to see. The basic package includes access to the two main viewpoints, stop at the Hualapai Ranch, musical performances, cultural activities and use of a shuttle.
In terms of time, it is recommended that you allocate at least 4 hours to the Grand Canyon West. That amount of time will let you enjoy to the max all of what the area has to offer. If you visit independently, you can stay as long as you want (for the day). People who visit with a tour have 4 hours to move around as they want (ask your tour company about this, mine provided 4 hours and it was a good amount of time to see everything without feeling rushed).
Here are the attractions on site:
The Skywalk is the main attraction in the Grand Canyon West. It made news around the world when it was opened in 2017.
This engineering marvel was designed to withstand winds of about 100 miles per hour and an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. Seventy-one loaded 747s can land over the bridge without breaking it.
Even with those facts, it is still a bit intimidating to walk over it. The vertical drop from the top is higher than any skyscraper in the world.
I am not going to lie. I decided to visit this part of the canyon (from Vegas) because of the Skywalk. There was no way I was going to miss the experience (even if I am super scared of heights).
The Skywalk may look inoffensive from afar but as I was getting closer and closer to the to the moment of truth, I started to get more and more nervous. I even thought about going back and not doing the walk. I convinced myself that everything was going to be fine (remember it can withstand dozens of 747s).
But you know what, once I was over the actual Skywalk, all fear disappeared. I mean, I still was a little nervous but the colors of the canyon walls take dominion of your emotions. You feel like a bird floating over one of nature’s most magnificent work. I walked slowly, appreciated the views and kept smiling. I even sat over the bridge for one of the photos.
Once I got off the Skywalk, I breathed with relief. I am so happy I decided to do this since the beauty of the canyon is beyond words.
The Skywalk is located at Eagle Point. The Colorado River can be seen 4,000 feet below the rim.
This was my first time at the Grand Canyon. I had all these dreams about how it would look. Like many, I have seen the pictures. Nevertheless, I was completely blown away when I saw the big scar on the surface of the earth. It is so humongous!!!
Now, a word of caution, people get carried away with what they are seeing but I recommend paying attention to your steps. There is nothing separating you from the canyon. One misstep can be fatal.
After Eagle Point, I felt a little apprehensive because I read in numerous Internet forums how the view at Guano Point surpasses what can be seen at Eagle Point. I was like, how is that possible? Walking over the Skywalk was too good to be true. How can the next stop be better than what I just experienced?
While riding the shuttle to Guano Point, I got an understanding of why people prefer the second view. The driver told us to prepare for 360 degrees views of the canyon. I can barely handle a linear view (in terms of managing awesome beauty), how I was supposed to handle a circular one?
We were able to climb two rock promontories: one flat and the other pointing to the sky. Both of them give you the promised complete 360 views of the canyon. Simply amazing!
Around the ranch, wagon and stagecoach rides, games of horseshoes, gunfights, and archery are offered. In addition, there are also multiple hiking, jogging, and biking trails around the property. You can stay overnight in the ranch if desired.
Helicopter, river, and zip line tours are available to those who are interested in experiencing a shot of adrenaline. All these activities have an additional cost.
Now, there is a caveat. The tickets to the Grand Canyon West are expensive. A package including the Skywalk, a meal, and a shuttle to the different viewpoints costs about $80. Taking out the Skywalk from the package takes the price down to $50.
A tour will charge you transportation costs on top of that (about $40, for a total of $120 -$130 per person, per tour).
Activities such as helicopter rides, river rafting, and riding a zip-line have an additional cost.
Is the experience worth it?
Everybody’s travel experience is different. Therefore, I will refrain from affirming if this experience is worth it or not. In my opinion (and it is just my opinion), the experience is unique and I enjoyed it to the max. I will do it again if I am afforded the opportunity.
I recognize this is a pricey experience and understand if you prefer to skip it.
Best Time to Visit
The Grand Canyon West is located in the desert. Temperatures can reach 110 – 120 degrees Fahrenheit during summer. It would be difficult to enjoy yourself with that weather.
I recommend visiting during fall, winter or spring when temperatures are more pleasant.
- Remember you are on sovereign land. Follow the rules and instructions given to you
- Once on-site, cars are left at a parking lot and transportation is by shuttle
- Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time. In winter, Arizona is an hour ahead of Las Vegas and California. During the rest of the year, it is the same time in Arizona, Las Vegas and California
- Outside food and beverages are not allowed
- Pets are not allowed either
- Cameras and personal articles are not permitted in the Skywalk (you have to leave your belongings at a free locker)
- While walking over the Skywalk, your shoes are covered with special paper booties design to avoid scratching the glass
- Exercise caution when walking around the different viewpoint. Nothing separates you from the Grand Canyon
- This area is located far from main highways. It is a good idea to drive with enough gas and have something to eat and drink in the car
- If visiting on a tour, companies will make everything within their power to return you to your hotel at the agreed time (around 7:30 – 8:00). They do this because they promise you can go on a tour to the West Rim and be back for a show. However, I will not plan to attend a show after a day like this (too tiring)
Have you visited Grand Canyon West Rim?
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