The Las Vegas Grand Canyon South Rim bus is the most economical way to get to the national park. It’s comfortable, too, especially if you travel aboard one of today’s luxury motor coaches. To get the most out of your trip, here are seven things you need to consider before you buckle up:
1. It takes 5.5 hours to drive the 270-plus miles to the South Rim. 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. Check 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 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 recommend satisfying your hunger at the restaurant in the Bright Angel Lodge, where the servings are huge and delicious.
4. Dress appropriately. During summer, bring a hat, sunscreen, lots of water, and loose clothing like long-sleeved shirts and pants. A windbreaker comes in handy, too. South Rim winters are cold, even when the sun is out. 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. Get a copy of “The Guide.” This is a fantastic publication put out by the Park Service. It’s updated every quarter and contains all the information you need about the Park’s history, facilities, museums, restaurants, gift shops, and the free shuttle bus system. Think of it as the park’s “bible.”
6. Not all lookouts are created equal. The 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. If you hike down into the canyon, make sure you can get back to the top. South Rim trails are world-class. But they are steep. I suggest taking a leisurely 30-minute stroll down and then turning back. During 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.
The Grand Canyon South Rim bus tour is a Las Vegas traveler favorite. 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.