The West Rim is the perfect Grand Canyon destination for travelers hoping to avoid the crowds of the South Rim. Though it offers less iconic views of the Canyon, the Grand Canyon’s West Rim, which is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indians, offers many unique spectacular vistas and experiences (like the Skywalk!), and is much more easily accessible from Las Vegas.
Weather at the West Rim
The region experiences very hot summer temperatures – the average temperature in July is 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and there’s an average of 290 days of sun throughout the year! On the flipside, the average temperature in January is 37.5 degrees, and snow is a definite possibility.
The most comfortable time of year to visit Grand Canyon West is in the late fall to the spring. If you’re planning a summer visit, make sure you bring a hat and lots of sunscreen!
Sights to See at the West Rim
The West Rim may not be home to as many iconic viewpoints, but visitors to the rugged West Rim can enjoy viewpoints that are just as spectacular as the ones at the South Rim.
There are several sights and attractions offered within the Hualapai area of Grand Canyon West, including the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk. Once you’ve entered the Hualapai area, a reliable and frequent shuttle bus service helps you easily see all the different sites:
- Eagle Point: Includes an amphitheater, art and gift store, and the Skywalk. Keep your eyes open for the Eagle Point’s eponymous eagle-shaped rock formation!
- Guano Point: Here you can see remnants of a historical tram that once stretched 8,800 feet into a guano mine, as well as 360° views of the Canyon from Highpoint Hike.
- Hualapai Ranch: Includes lodging and cowboy entertainment.
The West Rim is also home to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk (right). This open-air glass cantilevered bridge was built by the Hualapai Indians and opened in 2007. Extending 70 feet out from the edge of Eagle Point, the Skywalk offers views 4,000 feet down into the Grand Canyon through 5 layers of glass. Don’t worry – the Skywalk is perfectly safe! It can hold up to 71 million pounds, measures 10 feet wide, and has walls that are 4-6 feet tall.
The Skywalk is a must-visit attraction for any adrenaline junkie. However, no personal items, such as cameras, backpacks, or purses, are allowed on the Skywalk. Photos can be purchased from professional photographers.
Serious adventurers can also journey below the West Rim to the the idyllic Havasu Canyon (right), which has been described as a modern day Garden of Eden. Located between the South and West Rims, this tranquil spot is the home of the Havasupai Indians and is only accessible by foot, horseback, or helicopter. Havasu Canyon boasts three beautiful waterfalls: Navajo Falls, Mooney Falls, and Havasu Falls (at right). Guided hikes are available, but they are not recommended for families with young children. Havasu Canyon can be reached without entering the Hualapai-owned area.
Tourism at the West Rim
The West Rim is the closest and most easily accessible location to visit from Las Vegas. It’s only a 3.5 hour drive, which makes it the best choice for a day trip. The West Rim is also the only place where you can take a one-day whitewater rafting tour!
Entrance to the West Rim requires the purchase of a permit and tour package. There are several tour packages available, starting at around $45 per person
If you’d prefer to drive yourself to the Grand Canyon, consider visiting the South Rim. The road quality en route to the West Rim varies, and is better suited to 4-wheel drive or larger vehicles such as tour buses. There are also no gas stations, convenience stores, or fast food services around the Hualapai area.
The South Rim vs. the West Rim
The West Rim and the South Rim are the two most popular Grand Canyon destinations. No matter which Rim you visit, you’ll have an opportunity to explore many breathtaking viewpoints and fun activities and attractions, but depending on your travel plans, one Rim may be more ideal for your vacation. We can help you decide:
|West Rim||South Rim|
|Distance from Las Vegas||125 miles||275 miles|
|Driving Time||3 hours||4.5-5 hours|
|Major Attractions||Skywalk, Hualapai Ranch, Guano Point||Grand Canyon Village, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, and more.|
|Viewpoints||Three main viewpoints||More than two dozen viewpoints|
|Tour Options||Bus, boat, helicopter, airplane, and rafting tours||Bus, boat, helicopter, and airplane tours|
Who Should Visit the West Rim?
If you only have a day to see the Grand Canyon, the West Rim is an excellent option. Day trips to the West Rim take approximately 10 hours door-to-door, compared to 18 hours to visit the South Rim.
Because of the road quality, the West Rim is also an ideal location for guided bus tours. No private vehicles can pass the entrance, though you can park and take interior shuttles if you choose to drive yourself.
The West Rim is also a must-see for adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies – you can’t miss the Skywalk!
Tours You Can Take to the West Rim
The West Rim is easily accessible from Las Vegas, and Canyon Tours offers a variety of tours for every traveller, from casual sightseers to adventurous adrenaline junkies.
VISIT THE GRAND CANYON WEST RIM
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- Major viewpoints
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Featured Image Source: Richard Martin