One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a relatively short journey from the bright lights of Vegas. The drive to the South Rim from Las Vegas takes about four to five hours, while a helicopter or airplane ride is less than an hour.
Every year, five million people flock to northern Arizona to experience the sweeping views, unparalleled vistas and colorful landscape of Grand Canyon National Park.
Named a national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908, this beautifully preserved sequence of rocks formed through erosion over the past six million years, with the oldest rocks at the bottom dating back nearly two billion years.
“The various colors of the canyon walls are awe-inspiring for kids and seniors alike,” said Otto Linton, tour manager for Casino & Travel Tours (which is owned by VEGAS.com). “It is worth the trip. You won’t be disappointed.”
A look the South Rim
The South Rim is the deepest, widest, most accessible and most visited part of the Grand Canyon. Along with scenic overlooks and historic man made architecture like the Desert View Watchtower and El Tovar Hotel, it also houses the park’s Visitor’s Center, lodging, a gift shop and restaurants.
At nearly 6,000 feet deep, a hike by foot to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon and back is at least a two day journey.
Linton recommends the Bright Angel Trail as an easy to moderate trail. It’s the same trail on which many people ride mules down into the Canyon. Along the way, hikers may encounter waterfalls, big horn sheep and hidden coves among the canyon’s natural beauty.
Visitors can also enjoy scenery, 500 species of wildlife, 1,500 types of plants and historic architecture up top.
Touring the Grand Canyon
While many people enjoy exploring the Grand Canyon on their own, several guided tours are available via bus, Jeep, helicopter, airplane or even a combination of a few modes of transportation.
Tours are often a better option for those who want to make sure they get the most out of their experience. Remember, this natural wonder is 277 miles long, 18 miles across at its widest point and spans more than one million acres. They don’t call it Grand for nothing!
If you have plenty of time and are willing to spend a whole day at the Grand Canyon, opt for an all-inclusive tour with breakfast and lunch on the Grand Canyon South Rim Adventure. This 13-hour narrated journey via a luxury van allows you to sit back in air conditioned comfort and take in several viewpoints throughout the South Rim.
Or cruise the historic Route 66 in a luxury custom Tour Trekker on your way to the Grand Canyon on the 12-hour Grand Canyon South Rim tour. This experience includes a three hour professionally guided tour along Bright Angel Trail, Yavapai Point and Mather Point, as well as breakfast and lunch.
If you’re a bit more strapped for time, but still want to create a truly memorable Grand Canyon experience try the Grand Canyon Sunset Tour. Following limo transportation from your hotel to the airport, you will board a helicopter for a quick flight to the Grand Canyon. There you will descend below the canyon rim and enjoy unparalleled views of the sunset as well as a champagne picnic.
“They are insane,” said Linton, adding, “the positioning of the sun [throughout the day] changes the entire complexion of the face of the Canyon.”
Speaking of the sun, if you’re visiting during daylight, do yourself a favor and wear sunscreen! You may think you’re immune from the sun’s rays, but trust me, the Grand Canyon is the perfect storm of high elevations and very little shade. You don’t want to spend the week following such a Grand vacation looking and feeling anything but!
Photos by Chris Sekerak / Sun Media Productions