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Las Vegas: Grand Canyon West, Hoover Dam & Red Rock Canyon

  • 220+Audio Points
  • LocationNevada, USA
  • Suggested TimeAllow 1-3 Days
What to Expect
Grand Canyon West Rim
Hoover Dam
Red Rock Canyon

From Las Vegas, the West Rim – also called Grand Canyon West – is the closest and most accessible area to view the Grand Canyon and the location of the optional glass SkyWalk (if you are brave enough).

Driving time from Las Vegas is 2.5 hours each way, so it is a comfortable day trip. The drive follows through lots of desert, so we’ll fill the journey with stories about the canyon, so you’ll know what to expect and be a little more knowledgeable about the geology, wildlife and people that make this a Natural Wonder of the World.

It is an excellent idea to include a visit to Hoover Dam in your day trip to Grand Canyon West.

On the drive back to Las Vegas, you’ll hear stories about some of the unique characters from Las Vegas history, Area 51, Atomic City and more.

Grand Canyon West is located on land operated by the Hualapai Tribe, not the National Park Service. The canyon views are superb and definitely gives you a true taste of the Grand Canyon, especially if you are not enthusiastic for the alternative, which is a 4.5hr drive each way to the South Rim.

All visitors must pay the Legacy Fee charged by the Hualapai Nation to visit Grand Canyon West and includes the shuttle bus to various viewpoints. Consider it an entrance fee. Walking on the Glass SkyWalk is an additional cost over the Legacy Fee.

Guano Point has stunning 360 degree views of the Canyon and site of the old mine. And you can clearly make out the eagle in the natural rock formation at Eagle Point.

There’s also an interpretive village with Native American performances and a gift store with hand crafted arts.

The Hoover Dam is a short 1/2 day trip from Las Vegas and to this day remains an impressive engineering achievement.

There are two American engineering icons on display. The Hoover Dam and the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge which arches across the canyon that holds the Colorado River and looks down upon the Hoover Dam.

You’ll wonder at the height of the concrete walls, judge the water levels of Lake Mead, or get dizzy looking straight down from the bypass bridge, it’s all impressive.

Tours of the dam and the Powerplant are available from the Bureau of Reclamation. You can book online in advance for the Powerplant Tour only.

On our way to Hoover Dam we’ll hear stories about how the dam was conceptualized and constructed, do some chocolate sampling at Ethel Ms, and make a short detour to Boulder City. There are stories about when the Mob ruled Las Vegas to entertain you on the drive back to the Strip.

Red Rock Canyon is only 45 minutes from the Strip and the tour follows a specific route to provide us with a sample of the Mojave desert environment that borders Las Vegas.

It’s amazing that the natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon is so close to the dazzling lights of Vegas. Our route takes us along the base of the mountain range, and we’ll have the choice to stop at several attractions including Bonnie Springs, Spring Mountain Ranch and the Springs Preserve. Our route back to the Strip also takes us past the Premium Outlet Mall, Las Vegas’ largest, in case we need some retail therapy.

At Red Rock Canyon itself, the 13 mile scenic loop drive has many viewpoints, seasonal waterfall oasis, and hiking opportunities.

The Visitor Center has a new interactive display that includes the Desert Tortoise habitat and their caretakers, the “Tort Wranglers”. Watch for wild burros on the drive to Red Rock Canyon, especially around Blue Diamond. Or you might meet Jackson the formerly wild burro who now spends some days greeting, educating and making visitors laugh.

There are extensive hiking trails available. Pop into the Visitor Center for latest trail info and if you need help matching your time and ability for the right hike for you.

The tour route finishes with a drive through Las Vegas Downtown, or “Old” Las Vegas as many call it. You’ll see where icons like the Golden Nugget and the Fremont St Experience and lightshow are located.

Listen to the Tour Intro
Highlights
  • Grand Canyon West Rim
  • Hoover Dam
  • Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop
  • Bonnie Springs*
  • Spring Mountain Ranch
  • Wild Burros
  • Desert Tortoise Habitat
  • Springs Preserve*
  • Premium Outlet Mall
  • Old Vegas Fremont St
  • Ethel M Chocolate Factory
  • Boulder City
  • Lake Mead
  • Joshua Trees
  • Eagle Point
  • Guano Point
  • Mike O'Callaghan-Pat-Tillman Memorial (Bypass) Bridge
Map

Suggested Start Location

Drive southbound on Las Vegas Blvd – the Strip

Suggested Time

Grand Canyon West and Hoover Dam: Expect to spend a full day visiting and exploring Grand Canyon West and Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam: Allow a half day – with more time to explore inside Hoover Dam or time at Lake Mead or Boulder City

Red Rock Canyon: Allow a couple of hours for the Scenic Drive, extra if you plan on hiking. The entire tour can be completed in a half day

 

Driving Distance

Grand Canyon West Rim and Hoover Dam: 266 miles as a return trip from the Strip to Grand Canyon West Rim, including Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam: 80 miles return trip to Hoover Dam from Las Vegas Strip

Red Rock Canyon: Around 60 miles round trip from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon returning via Old Vegas

Reviews


FAQ

Which is better Grand Canyon South or West?

Grand Canyon West is located on land operated by the Hualapai Tribe, not the National Park Service. The canyon views are superb and definitely give you a true taste of the Grand Canyon, especially if you are not enthusiastic for the alternative – a 4.5-5 hr drive each way to the South Rim.

So the choice you want to make is whether you want to spend approximately 10 hours of driving time from Las Vegas to the South Rim, which will only give you an hour or 2 to enjoy the canyon. Or do you prefer to only spend approximately 5 hours of driving time to see the Canyon at the West Rim?

The legacy fee might seem expensive, but keep in mind that you will have to pay a National Park entrance fee at the South Rim if you don’t already have a Park pass, plus the gas cost and the 5 hours of your time. But if you want to see the “original” Grand Canyon views, then the extra time investment may be worthwhile for you.

Either way, the Grand Canyon is awesome, so don’t miss the opportunity!

Can you take photos at Grand Canyon West?

Yes.  You can take photos at a number of viewpoints including Guano and Eagle Point.

If you opt to take the Skywalk tour you’ll be asked to leave your hats, cameras, cell phones, water bottles and anything else that could fly or fall into the canyon, in provided lockers.  There are professional photographers available for photos on the glass walk.

Can you visit the Grand Canyon West Rim for free?

All visitors must pay the Legacy Fee charged by the Hualapai Nation to visit Grand Canyon West.  

Consider it a Park entrance fee.  This includes the shuttle bus to various viewpoints. 

There’s also an interpretive village with Native American performances and a gift store with hand crafted arts.

Walking on the Glass SkyWalk is an additional optional extra.

Can I do Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon in one day?

Yes, this is a great day out. We would suggest to do the Red Rock Canyon tour first.  You will finish that loop back on the Strip and that might be a good time to stop for lunch.  

Then drive down the length of the Strip to start the Hoover Dam tour down by the airport.  The Hoover Dam is a beautiful place to be when the sun is starting to set.  Then its only 45 minutes to drive back to the Strip.

 

There is not enough time to combine a visit with Grand Canyon West and Red Rock Canyon in the same day.

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