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Driving Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon - easy drive? Doable in a day?

35 replies

SwiftAnchor · 14/01/2020 20:28

I have a trip to Las Vegas booked with my young adult DD. We are looking at a trip to the Grand Canyon, having heard a couple of pretty poor reviews of helicopter trips I've been looking into hiring a car and driving.

Has anyone made the trip, it looks like it's about 2.5 hour drive to the west rim with the skywalk and 4.5 hrs to the south rim.

I was thinking of making a mini trip out of it, stopping off at the hoover dam and the Colorado river too, maybe having an overnight somewhere near the Grand Canyon. Although I'm wondering if I'm adding unnecessary expense to an already expensive trip and if we set off early morning could we do it in a day? Anyone any experiences?

I'm thinking in the uk I would probably make a 3 hr each way journey so why not? Although unfamiliar route, desert, 40+ degree heat, different car etc is also making me think maybe an overnight would be more relaxing.

Interested to hear from anyone who has done the drive. Or any tips Smile

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twingygirl · 14/01/2020 22:02

The South Rim (longer drive) has vastly superior views and a few easy walks along the rim. There are lots of places right on the rim run by the National Park Service to stay overnight. Don't be put off by them being completely booked...you can get cancellations if you keep contacting them right up to your stay. If you don't get one, there are a million motels right outside the gates. It's an easy drive, if long, and the scenery is beautiful and so much better than that around Vegas.

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okiedokieme · 15/01/2020 07:17

Easy drive but we did stay there overnight, traffic was bad and distances are long, think it took about 3 hours each way (long time ago)

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VanCleefArpels · 15/01/2020 07:34

It’s far longer than 4 hours in reality due to low speed limits and traffic. It would be a horrifically long day. I’d also miss the skywalk - it’s at the end of an unmade Road , v expensive (captive audience) and takes ages to get from the visitors centre to the rim, walk round and get back, takes hours out of the day in itself. Better to do an overnight if you can

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VanCleefArpels · 15/01/2020 07:36

Hoover Dam is worth a quick hop out of the car but if you want to make the most of it the tour is great. However again a few hours needed. Have you looked at the steam train from William to GC?

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SalamanderingAbroad · 15/01/2020 07:48

I’d stay the night if you can at the GC or near it otherwise would be v rushed.

Hoover dam is great and not being rushed is good.

It’s great waking up in and seeing sunrise and walk down a bit (I’ve hikes all the way to the river at the bottom and back over 3 days which was magical).

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BrokenLogs · 15/01/2020 07:50

We did Hoover dam and grand canyon in one day, I don't remember it being a particularly long day!

We were there early March I think, so it was warm enough but not many tourists.

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Fefifofaff · 15/01/2020 07:58

When will you be there? Doable in Feb/March as low season. Impossible (or a miserably long day) in the summer.

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ArfArfBarf · 15/01/2020 08:03

I think it’s best to do an overnight near/at the GC because it can fill with fog and be very underwhelming. Planning to spend some time there means you’re more likely to get some time where you get a clear view.

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VirtualHamster · 15/01/2020 08:04

Do you actually want to spend any time at the grand canyon? Whilst it's possible to drive it in a day, I'm not sure there's much enjoyment in doing it that way other than to tick it off the list.

You don't mention what time of year you're going, but I'd recommend a canoe trip down the Colorado from the Hoover Dam, if you're looking for options outside of Vegas.

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Chanel05 · 15/01/2020 08:13

Definitely easy to do in a day. Around 3 hours to get there without stopping, a couple of hours at the Grand Canyon and journey back. The Skywalk is great; the first time I went it was around an hour wait to get on it (1pm in the afternoon), finally stepped on and had to be evacuated off as a lightning storm started to happen. The second time I went on about 4pm and had a 15 minute maximum wait. If you don't fancy the drive yourself then there are coach trips from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. It's a beautiful place but I felt a huge sense of danger the closer I got to the edge!

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tanstaafl · 15/01/2020 08:15

I’d love to do the Hoover dam tour ( assuming there is one! ).
What we have done leaving LV is park at the dedicated car park and walk on to the bridge looking down onto the dam. You get a lot of the spectacle without seeing it up close ( and making a couple of hours worth of detour ).

We’ve also kayaked ( in pairs ) on the Colorado dam starting down at the river almost under the bridge ( which was being built at the time ) but that was a 6am to 3pm activity , too long a day imho to be then driving to GC.

We’ve been to the South Village of GC.
We stayed just south ( less than 10 mins ) in the town of Tusayen , plenty of chain hotels - we found the prices of the hotels in South Village too expensive ( and fully booked! ).
You pay a National Park fee to enter the GC area , from memory it’s a one off fee and you leave the park ticket in the windscreen.
We stayed two nights , ticked 3 boxes while there ; sunset , sunrise and walking down into the canyon.
The south village area is neat, tidy, quiet and in the evening has deer wandering about!
We looked at the steam train from Williams to the South Village but it takes close to 2 hours to do 30 miles and you’d have to do the same on the way back. Staying at Tusayen ruled that option out anyway.

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Ciwirocks · 15/01/2020 08:18

We have been twice for a day trip once in a Jeep and once on a coach. The coach was a nightmare. The jeep one was with pink jeep safari’s if they are still going look them up, someone else does the driving then and you don’t have to put up with awful overcrowded buses and lots of queuing

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tanstaafl · 15/01/2020 09:24

Would help the OP if pp say whether their day trips were to the West Rim where the skybridge is, or the South Village.

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Kazzyhoward · 15/01/2020 09:28

We did it in a day and easily fitted in a light aircraft flight over the canyon too. We set off straight after an early breakfast and were back mid evening. We were happy to have seen enough and also managed a brief stop off at the Hoover dam.

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BubblesBuddy · 15/01/2020 09:51

The south rim with a car is best. It’s long from one end of the viewing points to the other. Use the hop on hop off bus. We stayed nearby and drive in. That was in early November and it was very easy. Light traffic! Summer would be hell in my view!

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tisonlymeagain · 15/01/2020 09:56

We did it with our kids - to the South Rim. We left Las Vegas at about 6am, stopped at the Hoover Dam, which was so quiet and peaceful on an August morning at that time. Drove straight to the South Rim. Spent a couple of hours there, using the bus system to get to all the various viewing points. Drove back via old Route 66 which I would recommend, some interesting things to see and long open roads. We didn't struggle with any traffic and this was at the height of tourist season in August!

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VirtualHamster · 15/01/2020 13:35

Which end of August? There's a big difference in the USA between the first and last two weeks of August as American schools start going back mid August

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tisonlymeagain · 15/01/2020 14:11

I was in Vegas around 1st August so it would have been first week when we went to GC.

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SwiftAnchor · 15/01/2020 19:26

Thanks all, really helpful.

We are going the first week in June so expecting it to be very hot and probably quite busy. I am think king now that an overnight might be best to make the most of it and also see the Hoover Dam and Colorado river.

For those who did stay over, do you have any hotel recommendations at all?

We have 7 nights booked in LV (as weirdly it worked out cheaper to stay longer) so any other recommendations of things to do "off strip" also welcome! Smile

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VirtualHamster · 15/01/2020 20:20

This is the company we hired kayaks and got a one way shuttle from. They do full packages as well

www.kayaklasvegas.com/kayak_half_river/

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DanielSpaniel · 15/01/2020 20:25

We drove to the West rim and Skywalk a few years ago via the Hoover dam and it wasn’t bad in terms of distance, but I wish we had gone to the south rim instead. The skywalk was a complete rip off and tourist trap.

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tisonlymeagain · 15/01/2020 20:28

When are you going @SwiftAnchor? Accommodation at South Rim is generally fully booked twelve months out but you'll get something in one of the nearby towns if they are.

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SpeckledyHen · 15/01/2020 20:42

nationalatomictestingmuseum.org/
Interesting morning

A trip Downtown is very interesting too !

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houseofrabbits · 15/01/2020 20:42

We are going to Vegas in February and have booked a hire car one day to drive out to the Grand Canyon and potentially Hoover Dam. We plan on going to the West Rim and doing the Skywalk. However we do plan to do an American Road-trip in the future when we have kids and do the Grand Canyon properly so this visit is just a sneak peak really!

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Mustbetimeforachange · 15/01/2020 20:54

We drove from LV to GC via the Hoover Dam & stayed at Williams for 2 nights, Arizona (on Route 66), then got the train to GC. It was a good way of doing it, although in the end probably would have been cheaper, involved less time in the car etc to fly.

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