Take a grand drive to the South Rim

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It’s called the “Grand” Canyon for a reason – and with a guided driving trip to the South Rim you’ll find out exactly why.

Many tourists fly to the Grand Canyon because driving can be a lengthy trip. It’s about 300 miles there and back from Las Vegas – but it’s a moment of a lifetime, so it’s worth every minute.

While it’s true that a plane or helicopter tour gets you to the canyon a lot faster, you won’t get the full experience that you gain from a drive. That’s what makes this the ideal road trip. With a guided bus tour you won’t have to worry about getting lost or following a map.

“Lots of times when you drive out on your own maps aren’t always accurate,” said Phil Mumm, a tour guide for Casino Travel and Tours. “It’s better to do a tour than just drive out on your own.”

The ultimate road trip

Casino Travel and Tours’ “A Grand Canyon South Rim Adventure” tour begins with a bus picking you up at your hotel. While you’re driving you’ll be served a continental breakfast with a muffin, fruit, crackers and juice. On your way to the Grand Canyon an experienced tour guide shares a bundle of facts on the South Rim’s history and geological features. You’ll get an in-depth description of one of the world’s natural wonders – one of the few ones that is visible from space.

During the bus ride, you’ll watch documentaries on the Grand Canyon and Colorado River. In addition to these movies, you’ll learn even more.

“You’ ll hear sidebar information you won’t catch in a documentary, something new and interesting that you may have not found out otherwise,” Mumm noted.

Your tour guide will share information about all of the unique plants, trees and mountains on the way to
the Grand Canyon. Mumm has quite the background with the Grand Canyon. To date, he has visited the site approximately 700 times, with his first trip being in 1971.

You’ll drive by Seligman, one of the inspirations for Radiator Springs, the town depicted in the Disney Pixar movie “Cars.” Your tour guide will also share funny, yet informative stories, like why you shouldn’t feed any of the wild animals.

Right before arriving at your destination, the tour stops at a nearby hotel for a buffet lunch.

Different points of the Canyon

This trip includes several stops, which makes it even more convenient if you’re not comfortable with driving out to the Grand Canyon on your own. Plus, you’ll visit more of the remote, desolate areas that don’t have a lot of tourist traffic. One of these points includes Desert View.

“It’s peaceful up here,” Mumm said. “A lot of these places get very chaotic. [Here] it’s nice and quiet. You can still walk five feet out in the trees [and] you can sit on the bench and look at the canyon.”

New York resident Rosario Ortiz called the views incomparable.

“It’s beyond description,” Ortiz said. “I saw Niagra Falls and thought that was great but this is a hundred million times better.

“I think [it’s] the colors, trees and the shapes,” she continued. “I can’t put it into words.”

Desert View also includes the Desert View Watchtower. Designed by architect Mary Colter, the 70-foot-tall, four-story stone building was completed in 1932. There are several Native American murals painted on the walls inside the tower.

The best part of the tower is traveling up the winding staircase and making it all the way to the top. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon. If you have quarters handy, telescopes are available for more remarkable views.

If you plan on coming to the Grand Canyon in the summertime, Desert View is one of the stops you’ll experience on this South Rim tour. However, due to winter road conditions, many tours do not drive up here during the colder months.

Other stops on this tour include Mather Point and Angel Point. At the Grand Canyon National Park there are several areas where you can take plenty of photos.

Judy Daggett, a visitor from Kansas City, decided to take her first trip to the Grand Canyon on her birthday. She has visited the Southwest several times, but never on her special day.

“It’s beautiful,” Daggett said. “And the air feels so good. We thought this would be a good opportunity instead of having to road trip [ourselves]. This is awesome.”

For those who have never seen the Grand Canyon in person, this is one of those tours not to be missed.

“This is one thing – like some other areas that you should go see, no matter what,” said Mumm. “Documentaries and the movies do not do it justice.

“It ’s just like going to other areas in the world,” he continued. “This is like a ‘bucket list’ stop of one of the things you must see.”

Sherry Barron, a visitor from Michigan, had never been further west than Indiana before her trip to the Grand Canyon. “It’s overwhelming,” Barron said. “It’s very beautiful [and] spiritual. Love the view, you couldn’t top this. There’s nothing else like it.”

If you only have one day, Mumm suggested visiting the National Park. “If you have more time or come back [at] different times of the year, you can see all of it in about four days – all the rims,” he added.

On your way back from the Grand Canyon, your tour guide will share fun trivia about Las Vegas hotels, as well as surrounding areas of the world-famous city.

There’s a lot more to share about the Grand Canyon, but this is one of those trips you have to experience for

“Why spoil it?” Mumm said. “They’ve got to find something out on their own.”

You can book this and other Grand Canyon tours at www.vegas.com/tours/.

Fun facts about Grand Canyon

  • The Grand Canyon attracts about 4 million tourists a year
  • Fifty-five percent of visitors going to the Grand Canyon live in another country.
  • 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles visit the Grand Canyon each summer.
  • July and August are the busiest months – the Grand Canyon has more than 700,000 visitors.
  • The South Rim is 6,800 feet above sea level. It is 10 miles wide and one vertical mile deep.
  • Grand Canyon is home to many Native American cultures, including Hualapai, Paiute, Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Apache and Havasupai.

Photos taken by Jorge Labrador.


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.