Tours of the Grand Canyon, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the Hoover Dam are an indispensible part of a trip to the American Southwest. Of course, there are so many options to choose from, whether you’re deciding on how you want to explore – On horseback? Via helicopter? In a raft? – or what you want to see – the South Rim? Grand Canyon West? Lake Mead? – there are a lot of moving pieces that go into a Grand Canyon vacation.
The best way to begin planning your ideal Grand Canyon vacation is by figuring out where you’re based during your stay in the region. Are you also exploring Las Vegas, and have a hotel there? Or are you staying elsewhere in Arizona? Are you coming from the west or the east? As you make your decisions, you should be aware that there are four primary areas that Grand Canyon area tours depart from: Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West, Tusayan, and Lees Ferry. Here is an overview of their basic attributes and what’s available at each location.
This is one of the more popular departure places for tours and other excursions because many people like to explore the city in addition to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, et al. More bus and aerial tours depart from this location than from any other destination, but that often means the tours are longer and therefore more expensive (taking into account the time it take just to get out to the Grand Canyon). These tours, however, are possibly also the most convenient because almost all companies offer hotel pickup, making transit a breeze for visitors unfamiliar with the area.
This small town, located near the southernmost entrance to the park, is the departure point for a wide variety of tours. It’s home to the South Rim Airport Terminal, making it a popular destination for aerial flight in the region. Its proximity to Grand Canyon Village also makes it an excellent introduction to the Grand Canyon National Park, with easy access to bus and jeep tours, the National Geographic Grand Canyon Visitors Center, and the indispensible IMAX movie. Available tours include helicopter and fixed-wing airplane tours, rafting excursions, guided hikes, and Jeep tours.
Grand Canyon West is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, so many of the tour activities are run through their Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. Available tours include whitewater rafting trips, horseback rides, helicopter tours, and a shuttle bus. Outside companies also operate tours within Grand Canyon West, including helicopter and plane tours. Tours that start else ware and pass through Grand Canyon West generally include admission fees to Grand Canyon West itself, and offer the opportunity to enjoy the many tourist attractions available within. A trip here is a destination unto itself.
This tiny town provides convenient access to both sides of the Colorado River, and is an immensely popular destination and point of departure for rafting trips along the river. A wide selection of companies offer rafting trips through the region, from two-week long adventures to daylong outings. There are also a variety of price points for interested visitors, making a trip here a good option for experienced and new rafters alike. From intense whitewater rafting to serene kayaking, there’s something to interest all travelers who want to experience the grandeur and excitement of the Colorado River.