The Las Vegas Grand Canyon South Rim bus is regarded as the economical way to get to the national park. You don’t sacrifice comfort, either, especially when you travel on one of the new luxury buses that run this route. To get the most out of your trip, here are seven things you need to consider before you buckle up:
1. The South Rim is 270 miles away from Vegas and takes 5.5 hours to reach by bus. Tours include up to three hours at the rim. Travelers get back to their Strip hotel around 9 p.m. Conservatively, budget 15 hours for this trip.
2. Find out if your Hoover Dam photo stop includes the new bypass bridge. The new Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge opened in October 2010 and it’s a sight to behold. Even better is walking across it. The thrill comes from being suspended 900 feet above the Colorado River. And the view of Hoover Dam is incredible.
3. Make sure that your tour includes lunch. This is a long trip. Breakfast will get you as far as Kingman, AZ (make sure to load up on snacks here). The box lunch you get is OK. I suggest satisfying your hunger at the restaurant in the Bright Angel Lodge, where the servings are huge and delicious.
4. Dress for the weather. During summer, bring a hat, sunscreen, lots of water, and loose clothing like long-sleeved shirts and pants. Bring a windbreaker if you have one. South Rim winter’s are much colder than what you’ll experience in Vegas. Stay warm by dressing in layers. Bring a hat and/or beanie, scarf, gloves, and a medium weight jacket. Wear sturdy shoes and get a pair of YakTrakz walker crampons to beat the ice.
5. Make sure to your issue of “The Guide.” The Park Service puts out this wonderfully informative publication. Updated quarterly, the newspaper has information about Park history, museums, gift shops, restaurants, the best view points, and a map of the free shuttle bus system. In my view, it’s the key that unlocks all the Park’s fabulous features.
6. Not all lookouts are created equal. The very best ones are Mather Point, Yaki Point, Yavapai Observation Station, and Hermit’s Rest. Do sunrise at Mather and Sunset at Hopi Point. The view from the Rim Trail behind Bright Angel Lodge is also good (below you’ll see Indian Gardens and a tiny bit of Phantom Ranch).
7. Remember: What goes down must come up. South Rim trails are beautifully maintained and really put you in touch with the canyon. But they are steep. I would recommend taking a leisurely 30-minute stroll down and then turning back. Over the summer, bring lots of water and a salty snack like trail mix during the summer. Take lots of breaks going up. There’s no rush. Stand to the side to let mule trains pass.
South Rim bus tours from Las Vegas are a hit with Las Vegas travelers. And for good reason. It’s cheap, includes lunch and all park entrance fees, and its done on a state-of-the-art luxury bus. It’s also a sightseeing paradise. En route, you see Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Mojave Desert, the Kaibab Plateau, and the South Rim. If you are looking for an affordable, fun way to do the South Rim, this bus trip is absolutely the way to go.