Grand Canyon West is a distinct region of the Grand Canyon on the western edge of the inclusive territory. Owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe, it’s actually a separate park from the Grand Canyon National Park (which is operated by the National Park Service). As such, admission is ticketed separately. This is a very popular destination for Grand Canyon visitors, who often find the additional (or separate) cost worth the effort. It’s also the departure point of a number of exciting excursions, from whitewater rafting to horseback riding to helicopter flights. Travelers should also be aware that this is the only portion of the Grand Canyon (National Park or otherwise) where visitors can descend to the bottom via helicopter.
Grand Canyon West also boasts a number of worthwhile attractions of its own, from the stellar observation areas of Eagle and Guano Points to the famous Skywalk, an all-glass observatory that allows guests to actually walk out over the ledge of the Grand Canyon for a unique experience. Over 700,000 visitors come to Grand Canyon West each year, and it’s only increasing in popularity as the Hualapai continue to develop the tourist attractions in the region.
A wide variety tours are available from Grand Canyon West, from inexpensive bus rides to whitewater rafting excursions and more. Here is a selection of local tour companies and the services they provide.
Bus Tours of the Canyon: The Grand Canyon West shuttle bus escorts visitors between all of the major tourist sites in their territory, including Eagle Point & the Skywalk, Guano Point, Hualapai Ranch/Gift Shop and the Welcome center/airport/marketplace. This is sort of a Freebie. Everyone who got to Grand Canyon West has to pay $50 for entrance. It’s called the legacy package and includes the shuttle to the three stops plus the airport.
Horseback Rides: Choose from 30-, 60-, and 90-minute tour options. Impeccably trained horses make for an easy, relaxing ride along the canyon. There’s also an option for wagon rides, for those with young children or anyone who prefers not to ride but wants the intimate experience of a natural tour.
Aerial Tours: There are several options for helicopter and fixed-wing airplane tours of the region, with different focuses and different price points. These tours are purchased through the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation.
- Aerial Tour: This 15-minute helicopter excursion is a nice basic introduction to the Grand Canyon from above.
- Discovery Tour: This expanded helicopter tour also includes a dip below the canyon walls and down near the Colorado River, with a landing near the river.
- Heli-float Tour: This combination helicopter/boat tour includes a helicopter ride down to the Colorado River and a pontoon boat ride down the river itself.
- Flight of the Condor: This fixed-wing airplane flight also features beautiful aerial views of the Grand Canyon.
External Aerial Tours: These are tours operated by companies other than the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. These tours also explore Grand Canyon West, but tickets are purchased separately from the companies in question.
- Maverick Tours / Mustang Helicopters: Soar over the canyon, then descend below the rim for a truly comprehensive touring experience.
- Papillon Aerial Tours: They offer a rich variety of options – including a helicopter/boat tour, a tour that descends down into the canyon, and a fun basic tour of the major sites.