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Things to see driving from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon!

Updated: Mar 21

The Grand Canyon is the most visited park in the United States. Everyone has seen the pictures of the deep canyon and all the red colors.  Well, Grand Canyon West is not those famous pictures. Now don't get me wrong, it is neat to see, and still beautiful, but in my opinion the reds are not as bright. In this post my goal is to give you some insight as to why you should still check out Grand Canyon West if you are in Las Vegas for vacation. I will also be talking about some things to see along the road trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon.

The Mojave Desert
The Mojave Desert

I love escaping the Las Vegas Strip when I visit, to avoid gambling so much for one reason. There are so many wonderful places to see in the area and an easy day trip from the city, Grand Canyon West Rim is just one of many. For example, Zion National Park, Red Rock Canyon, and Valley of Fire State Park are some of my favorites. For trips that take you away from Vegas and you will have to have an overnight stay, unless you are fine with driving back to Vegas through the night are the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (always closed in winter), South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce National Park, and Monument Valley.

A West Rim Grand Canyon Road Trip is just under 3 hours from Vegas; it makes for a good day trip and the best option for any of the Grand Canyon entrances.  The drive is easy and interstate for 2/3 of the way.  The last 1/3 are country roads, but not scary.  I did not develop anxiety while driving here. It's just a gradual climb up some hills, and some curves. The Grand Canyon South Rim (main entrance to Grand Canyon) is 5 hours away from Vegas, and closer to Flagstaff AZ.  In my opinion. with that far of a drive. it would be a hard day trip, unless you leave real early from Vegas and come back real late.

Personally, I feel the best time for this trip is in the winter to early spring. My Visit was the first week of February, the temperatures at the Canyon were in the 50’s so it was chilly but sunny. But the best thing was seeing parts of the Canyon covered in snow in some spots. But you will need to be mindful of the weather if you plan a road trip in the winter months, you do not want to be driving in snow or high winds as you get closer to the Canyon.  If you prefer it to be warmer, go in March or April, but avoid the summer as that is when most people are visiting, and the temperatures are so hot.

As for the best way to get there, rent a car and drive on Interstate 11 from Vegas You will pass Henderson, and Boulder City, then you will merge on to route 93 that will actually pass by a couple scenic overlooks near Hoover Dam. This is less than an hour's drive into the drive from Las Vegas.

Here is a list of things to see on the way to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.

  • Mike O'Callaghan Memorial Bridge

Before you leave the dam area, the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge beckons with a view that's postcard-perfect. There is a trail nearby that takes you up to the Bridge, if you enjoy a walk and are not scared of heights. There are plenty of free parking lots at the base of the trail. You will get a great view of the top of the dam, but you will have to walk out to the middle of the bridge, which can be scary for some, but still one of the best ways to see it. 

  • Boulder City

Seeped in its own historical significance, the quaint Boulder City serves as a preamble to the might of the dam. Established as a federal settlement to house the dam workers, the city exudes the charm of old-Americana, with its green parks and neat, nearly century-old architecture. A stroll down its streets is a nod to the Heritage of Hoover. Plus, the Hoover Dam Museum is located in Boulder City. There is a casino in Boulder City too, if you want to try your luck outside of Vegas. Hemenway Park is a nice park to stop at and enjoy views of Lake Mead from a distance. You will see Bighorn Sheep here especially in the mornings. 

Lake Mead from an Overlook on the way to Grand Canyon West
Lake Mead from an Overlook on the way to Grand Canyon West
  • Lake Mead National Recreation area.

Lake Mead's emerald expanse, stretching along the border of Nevada and Arizona, offers a sharp contrast to the desert it resides in. Boating, fishing, and swimming appeal to the water enthusiasts, and quieter pursuits are equally abundant along its 1.5 million acres of recreation area. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area ensures that the legacy of the dam extends to leisure, life, and lush, riparian resplendence. Lake mead is man-made lake due to the construction of the Hoover Dam

  • Hoover Dam boneyard

This is a neat and popular stop while hiking the Railroad Trail that winds around the hills above the Hoover Dam. There is a fence around the so-called boneyard (old machinery) The trail itself is 3.7 miles and is part of the Lake Mead recreational area, what is neat about the trail is it passes through 5 tunnels, something quite unusual, but you will have great views of the lake, the surrounding south Virgin Mountains and a chance to see wild animals like lizards or even Bighorn Sheep. This by far is one of the best hikes of the area.

  • The Dog who owned the Dam

Is just a marker but this dog was the mascot of the dam during the build. He was a black lab, and all the workers knew him as he would climb ladders and even use the open-air elevator during the build.

Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam
  • WWII bunker at Hoover Dam

It sits above the Hoover Dam from the Arizona side, hidden in plain sight. It's just neat to take a glance at knowing that at one time soldiers were sitting there with machine guns prepared to protect the United States and the dam during WW2.

  • Hoover Dam Lodge Trail Head

1.5 Out-and-back trail that is considered easy and nearby if you would like some more hiking in the desert. It will also offer a great spot to view the lake and a chance to see bighorn sheep.

  • Overlooks Galore

There is one more overlook I have to mention, it is 10 minutes past the Hoover Dam on the Arizona side of interstate 11. Right off the side of the interstate and it gives a great view of the mighty Colorado River. One of the best views I have seen of the Colorado River.

Check out my Hoover Dam Post to learn more. If you are not doing tons of hiking and extra attractions at the West Rim, you can combine these 2 excursions in the same day.  It will just be a busy day, do the math.... 2.5-hour drive to West Rim from Vegas Strip, about 4 hours or so at West Rim sightseeing, and 2.5-hour drive back. Adding an hour for stops at random places (gas stations, cows in the road, scenic outlooks, and adding another hour or less for a quick stop at Hoover (if not taking any tours of Hoover) makes for an even longer day, so you might not want to spend too much time depending how everyone feels. 

Back to the Drive to the West Rim of Grand Canyon.

Now after you pass the Hoover exit, you will be in Arizona, and it's a real easy drive on Route 93, and less traffic the farther you go.  Close to where you turn left on Pierce Ferry Road there are several gas stations, one is called the Last Stop.  Not much else there but gas and some quick food.  

Cows on the way to Grand Canyon
Cows on the way to Grand Canyon

There is a historical marker on a little road that cuts up to the left.  The Ghost town of White Hills, it's an old gold and silver mining town that was slowly deserted after the mine shut down in the late 1800's.  At the time of the boom, there were 12 saloons in White Hills. 

After that turn up Pierce Ferry Road, you are on the last leg of the trip to Grand Canyon West, which will take 45 minutes or so.  The road is a country road, but still easy, and you will see many yellow signs with cows on them, watch out for cows in the road.  These are free range cows, and yes, we had to stop for a small herd to pass.  This made my day since I am a huge animal lover.

As you go up the road it will become a little curvier and has a gradual climb, especially after you turn onto Diamond Bar Road, but nothing too serious.  It did not give me anxiety, so you will be totally fine. 

travel up

West Rim Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon View from Eagle Point
Grand Canyon View from Eagle Point

You are now at your destination; follow signs and they always have people out to direct you.  Plus, there is free parking at the entrance to the visitor center where you buy tickets to board the shuttle.  You can also buy tickets online.  I suggest looking at their website to get ideas on what you want to do and can afford to pay for. Or use my Viator links on this page to help you decide.

A Tour bus tour, and private car tours are offered for both West and South Rim, but they can be pricey. I prefer to rent a car for all my Vegas trips, it can be cheaper especially if you rent from Fox rental car, or Thrifty Rentals at the airport.

Grand Canyon from Guano Point
Grand Canyon from Guano Point

You can do similar things at Grand Canyon West as you would at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There are also a few differences.  Hiking is better at South Rim, but still great at the West Rim. You can zipline, take helicopter tours, Helicopter to the bottom and Pontoon boat ride the Colorado River, or whitewater rafting at the West Rim.  Just remember these things can be pricey, where hiking all you need is a general admission ticket.

You can still go to the Canyon and pay for a general admission ticket which is $49, and the shuttles will still take you to the same 2 points as the skywalk ticket takes you.  You just won't be able to enter the skywalk, but you can still look at the view and walk around.  Those 2 points are Guano Point, and Eagle Point. Eagle Point is where the skywalk is located.

Eagle Point

Skywalk at Eagle Point
Skywalk at Eagle Point

Observation Point Skywalk is only available at Grand Canyon West.  It will cost over $70 bucks to walk. It is a glass bottom walkway that takes you over the edge of the rim so you can see the canyon from a different angle.  If you are scared of heights do not pay for it, I paid for it, and was only on it for 3 minutes because I was not a fan.  I am scared of heights and the wind was blowing like crazy that day.  Yes, I know the design of this walkway has been made to withstand 100 MPH winds, and an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. But knowing that still does not make me feel any better about standing on it. lol.  I walked it really quick and got off of it. For the extra cost it was not worth it for me.

Now of course if you feel brave, buy the ticket that has the Grand Canyon Skywalk included.  I have talked to many who have fears like me and they really enjoyed the walk and are happy they did it.  You are not allowed to take anything out on the walkway. No phones, binoculars, cameras or any personal items. You will be asked to lock them up in a free locker at the entrance to the walkway.  You will also be given booties to wear, you slip them over your shoes to walk on the walkway so that the glass bottom will not be scratched.  

Eagle Point has a gift shop, snacks, and a small area that shows Native American artifacts. If you time your visit right, you can see demonstrations from some Hualapai Natives. Eagle Point is the first shuttle stop.

Guano Point

View from Guano Point
View from Guano Point

Guano Point is the most beautiful and the best place for pictures. You have to be wondering why Guano is more beautiful than Eagle since Eagle has the skywalk.  Eagle Point you view only one side of the canyon, where Guano Point you view from the left or right side. (When facing the restaurant area, walk left, it is the most beautiful.) 

Remnants of the Historic tram is located here, along the hike. The hike itself can be scary downhill without any rails, so for me it was best to stay far away from the cliffside of the trail going down.  There is a cafe that gives a great view of the Canyon. Near the shuttle stop look at the items for sale by the Hualapai Tribe members. Jewelry and souvenirs are available for purchase.

More Information

West Rim is actually located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and not part of the actual Grand Canyon National Park.  The Hualapai Tribe, are in charge of managing the land, maintaining the roads and maintaining the buildings they have built for the West Rim since it is on their land.

Sunset overlook of Colorado River while driving back to Vegas
Sunset overlook of Colorado River while driving back to Vegas

There are a few places to stay if you were wanting to have an overnight stop out here to do several activities. There are cabins to rent, RV parking, and the Hualapai Lodge. Or you can be like me and drive back to Vegas to lose more money gambling. lol. The picture below is at a scenic overlook near Hoover, on the way back from West Rim.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. And if you all want my help in research, advice and help with booking, just make an appointment on my website.  Grand Canyon West may not be as beautiful as the south rim of the Grand Canyon. But it does not mean you should skip it. I did enjoy my time at Grand Canyon West Rim, and the views are still great. So, take the time away from gambling in Las Vegas to make the road trip to Grand Canyon West.

Hilton Honors

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