Complete Grand Canyon Guide, The Grand Canyon

Driving to the Grand Canyon vs. Taking a Guided Tour

grand canyon shuttle bus

Despite its rugged remoteness, the Grand Canyon is easy to access from several nearby towns and cities, including Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Grand Canyon adventurers must decide whether to hop on a guided tour or drive themselves to the Canyon. There are advantages and disadvantages to both – ultimately, it’s up to you and your travel plans and personal preferences which works best.

Taking a Guided Tour

Guided tours remove the stress from planning your own Grand Canyon adventure, but they offer less freedom than driving yourself. Here are some more advantages and disadvantages of taking a guided tour:


  • You don’t have to worry about driving. No getting lost or fighting to find parking!
  • Multiple tour options are available, including helicopter, airplane, and boat tours.
  • Ideal for spontaneous travellers – less advanced planning is required!
  • Tour guides are chock full of interesting tidbits about the Southwest and the Grand Canyon.


  • You have to follow the tour’s schedule, so you may have less time to spend at the Grand Canyon
  • Your itinerary is less flexible, so you may miss out on some of the less accessible viewpoints.

Image Source: Dene' Miles via Wikimedia Commons.

Driving Yourself

Travellers who like to set their own schedules may prefer driving themselves to the Grand Canyon because it offers more flexibility than a guided tour. Here are some more advantages and disadvantages of driving yourself to keep in mind:


  • You can totally customize your Grand Canyon experience. Explore for as long or as little as you like with no schedules to keep to!
  • You’ll have a chance to stay overnight, camp, or hike below the Rim.
  • You can stay for sunrise or sunset – the best times to view the Grand Canyon.


  • The drive is long – it takes five hours to drive from Las Vegas to the South Rim! The West Rim is closer, at about 3 hours away by car.
  • You need to plan early – hotels and other accommodations at the Grand Canyon can book up to a year in advance.
  • Parking can be difficult. The lots fill up quickly!

Decision Time

Whether you’re driving yourself or taking a guided tour, you’re sure to have a fantastic experience as you explore the Grand Canyon’s vistas and attractions!

The Complete Grand Canyon Visitor Guide

Find answers to all your questions about the Grand Canyon in our newly updated guide!

Download the Complete Grand Canyon Visitor Guide for guides to each Rim, packing lists, travel tips and more.

Featured Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park


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.