Rim Guides, The Grand Canyon

Should You Visit the South Rim or West Rim?

grand canyon west rim vs south rim which is better

The South Rim and the Grand Canyon West region are the two most popular Grand Canyon tourism destinations. You’re in for some truly spectacular sights and exciting attractions no matter which area you visit, but for many adventurers, the choice between the South Rim and Grand Canyon West is a tough one.

Ultimately, deciding which is better and whether you will visit the South Rim or West Rim will come down to your travel preferences and how much time you have to explore. Need help making your decision? Read our West Rim vs. South Rim comparison guide:

The Grand Canyon South Rim

The South Rim is managed by the National Park Service. It welcomes a whopping 5 million visitors every year, and it’s about five or six hours away from Las Vegas by car.

What can you do at the South Rim?

The South Rim is more developed than any other Grand Canyon destination, with numerous hotels, restaurants, and cultural experiences.

Explore the Grand Canyon Village and visit locations like the Kolb Studio and Lookout Studio, take in a Ranger demonstration, or hike along the Rim and enjoy spectacular views along the way. You can even bike along the Rim or take a mule ride down into the Canyon.

Multiple hiking trails also originate at the South Rim, including the popular Bright Angel Trail. Bright Angel Trail is perfect for beginners and dayhikers. The entire trail is seven miles long though, so don’t plan on hiking the whole thing in a single day.

South Rim viewpoints

The South Rim is home to nearly two dozen viewpoints, many of which are easily accessible from the Rim trails. Some of the most iconic viewpoints include:

Mather Point

mather point
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr.

See nearly a quarter of the Grand Canyon from Mather Point. It’s especially popular at sunset.

Yaki Point

yaki point
Image Source: Jon Sullivan via Pixnio.

Yaki Point offers unobstructed views of the east side of the Grand Canyon.

Desert View

desert view watchtower
Image Source: Vladsinger via Wikimedia Commons.

Climb to the top of the Desert View Watchtower and take in 360° views of the Grand Canyon.

Discover more fantastic South Rim viewpoints.

Who should visit the South Rim?

Because it’s home to many of the most memorable viewpoints, the South Rim is the ideal destination for first-time Grand Canyon Visitors. If you have small children, you may prefer to visit the South Rim for its many amenities and activities.

However, because it’s farther from Las Vegas, the South Rim is not always an ideal destination for travellers who don’t have much time to explore the Grand Canyon.

Visit the South Rim on one of our guided tours.

Grand Canyon West

The Grand Canyon West region is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indians. With only two million visitors a year, Grand Canyon West is quieter than the South Rim. It’s not as highly developed as the South Rim, but it offers attractions you can’t find anywhere else, such as the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

It’s also closer to Las Vegas – Grand Canyon West is a much shorter three hour drive away from the Strip.

What can you do at Grand Canyon West?

Experience Hualapai culture at the Hualapai Ranch, learn how to rope and quick draw, or even take in some cowboy entertainment.

If you’re seeking a little more excitement, take a stroll on the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk! Get ready for some awe-inspiring views 4,000 feet down to the Canyon floor as you walk 70 feet straight out from the edge of Eagle Point. Learn more about the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Visitors can explore Grand Canyon West by SUV, helicopter, or a combination of air and off-road vehicles. Grand Canyon West is also the only place where you can take a single-day rafting adventure.

Grand Canyon West viewpoints

While there aren’t as many viewpoints at Grand Canyon West as there are at the South Rim, they are just as spectacular. Here are some of the most popular:

Eagle Point

eagle point
Image Source: Julius Reque via Wikimedia Commons.

Keep your eyes peeled for Eagle Point’s eponymous eagle-shaped rock formation.

Guano Point

west rim viewpoints guano point

Venture deep into Hualapai Indian country and discover the Grand Canyon’s West Rim!

See what else Grand Canyon West has to offer, and get up close and personal with the rugged landscape on one of our West Rim tours.

What can you do at Grand Canyon West?

If you have less time to visit the Grand Canyon, consider visiting the West Rim. It’s much closer to Las Vegas, which means you’ll have more time to explore the Rim and experience the landscape.

You should also opt to visit the West Rim if you’re interested in the Grand Canyon Skywalk. There’s no comparable attraction at the South Rim.

West Rim vs. South Rim

Here are the main differences you should consider when choosing between the South Rim and Grand Canyon West:

South Rim

  • 5 hours from Las Vegas
  • 5 million visitors per year
  • Nearly 2 dozen viewpoints
  • Can hike into the Canyon

West Rim

  • 3 hours from Las Vegas
  • 2 million visitors per year
  • Fewer viewpoints but more time to explore
  • Walk beyond the Canyon edge on the glass Skywalk

You should visit each Rim if:

South Rim

  • Are a first time visitor
  • Have smaller children

West Rim

  • Have less time to explore
  • Want to check out the Skywalk

Have You Decided?

Take a look at our South Rim and Grand Canyon West tours:

Grand Canyon West Rim Tours (18)

Grand Canyon South Rim Tours (9)

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About Ria Borja

Ria is a Customer Experience Manager at Canyon Tours and an avid lover of the outdoors. When she isn't helping other travelers check destinations and dream vacations off their bucket lists, she's busy exploring the Southwest. Her favorite place to visit is (unsurprisingly!) the Grand Canyon.

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