Which Rim Should You Visit?

It's the question most asked at the outset of Grand Canyon vacation planning: Which rim should I visit? Without knowing anything about your travel plans, personality, budget or time table, we recommend the South Rim. Hands down, the South Rim is THE place to visit at the Grand Canyon. It's often described as "the real Grand Canyon" and it's the part of the National Park that you've undoubtedly seen in movies, photographs and magazines. Truth be told, we might recommend the South Rim even if we DID know your travel plans, personality, budget and time table, but since we can't get to know all 5+ million visitors the Grand Canyon attracts each year, we've put together this handy comparison chart of the South, West and North Rims side by side.

It may help you to narrow your options just by knowing which city you'll be starting from. If you're starting in Phoenix, you're most likely to choose the South Rim for your trip. Likewise, if your visit will originate in Las Vegas, it'd certainly make sense to consider the West Rim. Of course, there are other variables that may influence your decision in the end. For example, if you have your heart set on taking a helicopter and landing on the floor of the Canyon, then the West Rim is right for you. On the other hand, if you're really into camping, hiking and near solitude, then be sure to choose the North Rim. Finally, if you want to see other attractions and activities besides the Grand Canyon, then the South Rim is right up your alley. Only you know what your needs and priorities are, so check out the criteria and available options to help you decide which rim to visit.

 
Best Known For
Best For
Number of Annual Visitors
Distance from Las Vegas
Drive time from Las Vegas
Distance from Phoenix
Drive time from Phoenix
Admission Cost
Views
Open Hours
Weather
Peak Season
Best Time to Visit
Ease of Access
Tours Available…
Helicopter Fly Over Tours
Ground/Air Combination Tours
Helicopter Tours with Canyon Floor Landing
Airplane Tours
River Rafting (multi-day)
River Rafting (one-day)
Smooth Water Float Trip (one-day)
Railroad Tours
Ground Tours (van, bus)
Half-Day Tours (6 hours or fewer)
Full-Day Tours (15-18 hours)
Horseback Riding on the Rim
Mule Trips into the Canyon
Hiking
Best Way to Get There
Shuttle to the Rim
Lodging Within 1 Hour of the Rim
Also Available Nearby
Must Dos
South Rim
Most popular spot; National Park; hiking, viewpoints and ranger talks
First-time visitors; all ages; all abilities
4,000,000
277 miles
4h 15m
228 miles
3h 27m
$24 per vehicle
Scenic, lush, classic and familiar
Year round, 24 hours
Pleasant in summer, cold in winter
Summer
Late spring/early fall
Very easy; all highway; any vehicle
from Tusayan
from Las Vegas, Phoenix
n/a
from Las Vegas, Phoenix
from the South Rim
n/a
n/a
from Williams
from Las Vegas, Phoenix
by airplane from Las Vegas, Phoenix
by ground from Las Vegas, Phoenix
n/a
from the South Rim
Guided or self-guided
Self drive; ground, train or air tours
from Phoenix, Flagstaff
Plenty
Additional attractions, gas, food and services
Ranger talks; walking the Rim Trail; sunrise/sunset photos
West Rim
Grand Canyon Skywalk; being a paid attraction vs. a National Park; lots of available add-on tour activities
Returning area visitors; adults; able-bodied
700,000
126 miles
2h 32m
257 miles
4h 43m
Typically $79.99 per person
Deep, narrow, barren and rugged
Year round, sunrise to sunset
Hot in summer, warm in winter
Winter/spring
Winter/spring
Moderate; some highway and primitive roads; high clearance vehicles recommended
from Las Vegas
from Las Vegas
from Las Vegas
from Las Vegas
n/a
from Peach Springs
as part of a tour package from Las Vegas
n/a
from Las Vegas
by airplane from Las Vegas, Phoenix
by ground from Las Vegas
as part of a tour package from Las Vegas
n/a
n/a
Ground or air tour
n/a
Almost none
Almost nothing
Grand Canyon Skywalk; be prepared for extra costs in cash; choose your activity add-ons ahead of time
North Rim
Remote beauty; seasonal hours; fewer crowds; outstanding hiking, camping and summer weather
Outdoor enthusiasts; adults; able-bodied
1,000,000
228 miles
6h 16m
420 miles
9h 30m
$24 per vehicle
Vast, verdant, spectacular and layered
mid-May through mid-October, 24 hours
Cool-to-warm in summer, snowy in winter
Summer
Summer
Easy but slow; all highway; remote location; any vehicle
n/a
n/a
n/a
from Las Vegas, but lands at Bar 10 Ranch, outside the NP
from Lees Ferry
n/a
from Lees Ferry
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
from the North Rim
from the North Rim
Guided or self-guided
Self drive
from the South Rim (rim-to-rim); custom from Sedona, Flagstaff, Williams
Almost none
Almost nothing
Stay overnight in the Lodge or campground; relax in the rocking chairs on the Lodge deck overlooking the Rim
Written by:

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GRAND CANYON'S NEAREST AIRPORTS

Most visitors fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas and drive to the Grand Canyon. Learn how: See All Nearby Grand Canyon Airports »

PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

Drive yourself or take a shuttle? Learn the transportation options for each Grand Canyon rim. See All Grand Canyon Transportation »

LAS VEGAS HOTELS

Roll the dice on a grand vacation, and add Las Vegas to your Grand Canyon trip itinerary. See All Las Vegas Hotels »

WEST RIM SKYWALK TOURS

Venture out to Grand Canyon West by helicopter, airplane or bus; take a walk on the glass Grand Canyon Skywalk. See All West Rim Tours »