Ballpark estimate: $75 to $600+ per person
If you haven’t made the trek to visit the Grand Canyon yet, this is probably on your bucket list. There’s something awe-inspiring about the scope of this natural canyon that spreads out in full glory for all to experience.
Exactly what to expect from your visit will depend on the rim you decide to visit and how you choose to view it. Do you prefer to experience the splendor of the Grand Canyon long distance from a safe vantage point above, or do you want to delve right into the heart of this destination by traveling by mule down the well-worn paths? Or maybe you prefer to fly right over and view this landmark from above. The best part about visiting the Grand Canyon is that there’s sure to be a tour option that appeals to everyone.
About the Canyon
The Grand Canyon is about 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 1-mile deep, making it an ambitious journey if you want to explore all of the highlights that exist. Located in the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona and operated by the National Park Service, the canyon was created by the Colorado River five to six million years ago, according to some experts.
When planning a trip to visit the Grand Canyon, you’ll need to consider the time of year you’ll be traveling and the weather conditions, since the temperatures can experience real extremes. In the winter, the temperature can fall to as low as 0 degrees F or below, while in the summer, the heat can rise to 100 degrees or more. As a result, visitors can be at risk for frost-bite, sunburn, and dehydration, depending on the season, so timing is important for comfort and safety.
Different Rims, Different Experiences
When you think of the Grand Canyon, you may not realize it but the canyon actually consists of two separate sides: the North Rim and the South Rim. There is a distance of about 200 miles between these two areas, and it can take as long as five hours to drive from one side to the other, so it’s important to plan for this if you want to experience the distinct character each one offers.
The South Rim is generally the more popular destination area for tourists. It’s about a five-hour drive from both Phoenix and from Las Vegas, and is easy to access. It offers close to a dozen distinct viewing areas and these provide postcard-perfect angles of the canyon. Grand Canyon Village, also situated in the South Rim, contains in-park hotels, gift shops, restaurants, museums, and other tourist attractions. This destination point is often recommended for families since it is the most child-friendly option. You can find jeep, walking, mule, and helicopter tours on the South Rim. Because the South Rim attracts many visitors, it’s important to get your reservations well in advance since things can book up quickly.
The North Rim of Grand Canyon is much less traveled than the South Rim. It also offers a great way to experience nature first-hand for those that are up for a more rural trip. The weather conditions in this section are more extreme and as such, this area is generally only open from spring through fall since snow in the winter makes many of the roads impassable.
It’s also worth mentioning Grand Canyon West, which is a popular area of the Grand Canyon. This area is accessible from Las Vegas and features the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is a breathtaking glass-floor bridge that’s suspended about 70 feet over the canyon offers incredible views of the bottom. Grand Canyon West is on land owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe and the tribe charges its own admission fee, so it’s not included in the National Park Service Entrance Fee. There are no cars are allowed inside the Grand Canyon West park area. You have to park at the West Rim welcome center and take a special shuttle in.
There’s also Grand Canyon East, which is not as well known as the other areas of the Grand Canyon. If you’re looking for an experience that will be less crowded and will give you a unique vantage point, this section can be worth exploring.
Canyon Traveling Options
If you want to experience the Grand Canyon up close and personal, hiking the South Rim may seem like an appeal option, but the experts warn that this isn’t for the faint of heart or body. It is a very strenuous activity and requires being in tip-top shape. A less difficult option is to take a tour by mule down the South Rim and into the heart of the canyon.
You can also choose a bus, jeep, airplane, or helicopter tour for a view of the canyon, complete with a tour guide’s expertise to tell you about the highlights of what you are viewing.
Costs to Visit the Grand Canyon
The cost to visit the Grand Canyon depends on what area you select and how you choose to view it.
There’s a National Park Service entrance fee for the Grand Canyon. For those walking biking, or taking the shuttle in, it costs $15, while driving in by car is $30.
Then there are also tour costs. Here is a sampling of what you might expect to spend:
- Riding a mule to view the canyon can be an affordable option. You can find some quick tours starting at about $50 and going on up to $200+.
- A bus or jeep tour of the Grand Canyon starts at about $75, while helicopter and airplane tours of either rim start at about $150 and go on up, depending on where you access the tour, what’s included and how long the tour lasts.
- You can also take a day trip on the Grand Canyon Railway for about $150+. Some tours include a combination of travel by air, water, and land. For such a multi-vehicle, multi-sensory experience, plan to spend a little more. Such trips can range from $250 to $600+. Tours that include overnight accommodations, higher-end meals, and extras like champagne will come at an extra charge.
- For Grand Canyon West, the least expensive package is $42.99 per person, which does not include the Skywalk. For a package including the Skywalk, this starts at $79. Extras like meals, photos, horseback tours, and other features can be added at an additional charge.
(Note that you find a variety of tours at all price points for the different Grand Canyon locations, but there is much more to select from for the South Rim than for the other places.)
If you want to get married at the Grand Canyon, this setting can offer the perfect backdrop for your special event. Tour company Viator is just one of the options to consider. They offer a few private helicopter/wedding tour packages you can select, ranging from about $1,000 to $3,500.