On all my previous visits to Las Vegas, I always visited the Grand Canyon West Rim. This is because it’s only 2 hours away compared to the long 5 hour drive to the South Rim. Another reason is because I have never woken early enough to make it worthwhile to drive there for the day as our decisions to go to GC in the past were always last minute. This time I would be better prepared.
The South Rim is part of Grand Canyon National Park while the West Rim is privately owned by the Hualapai Tribe. The price difference to enter both is huge. For the West Rim park entrance and skywalk ticket (a small bridge that takes you over the edge so you stand over the huge drop) cost per individual was around $70 which I purchased each time. The South Rim cost was $20 per vehicle for a 7 day pass and permits all passengers to enter.
My alarm goes off at 6am and I feel my almost 6 hours sleep will be enough to get me through the days drive. We collect our vehicle around 7am and enter Flagstaff into the GPS navigation system. This would be about 250 miles with a driving time of roughly 4 hours. We top up the fuel tank and make our way towards the I-40 and pitstop destination Flagstaff.
With this being a Sunday morning, the roads were extra quiet so we wasn’t expecting to hit any traffic. We drive past Lake Mead (which we would visit another day) and drive over the Hoover Dam bridge. The US-93 as expected was traffic free. We see signs for viewing points and decide to take a quick gander at one of them.
I have no idea what part of the road this was on but what a wonderful view for a Sunday morning….
Back to driving and within minutes, the others one by one each fall asleep. Fantastic! Let’s try and reach Flagstaff without having to stop. Doh! 60 minutes later we are required to make a pit stop so I pull over at the next available place which appears to be a small family restaurant. As I also head round the back to use the restroom, what I see next startled me. I am surprised to see a Rodeo Ranch. Sadly no photos as I had left my camera and phone in the car but nevertheless the place turned out to be a lot bigger than just a small family restaurant.
The drive continues with the road taking us past Kingsman along the way, we are now on the 140 mile plus stretch on I-40. We reach around 11am and decide to refuel now as well as on the way back if needed. As part of our party have never tried Taco Bell or KFC (US version) before, we vote to eat lunch here as both were part of the same restaurant. Other choices around us would be Pizza Hut or McDonalds. No photos warranted as the food from Taco Bell didn’t look great and KFC well is…..KFC. With the food over it’s back on the road we go. As we get back into the car I see the gas stations opposite filling up with what can only be tourists also visiting the South Rim. Not far to go now, only another 80 odd miles or so.
This last part of the drive took much quicker than expected. By 12:45pm, we had arrived at our destination and were looking forward to seeing some fantastic views. With the car parks close to the visitor centre quite full, we had to park a bit further out but with regular shuttle buses taking you around the park, this didn’t matter.
We make our way to what is recommended for a 4 hour visit to the park, the red route. I only have one word to describe this. Wow!
Walkways with safety railings.
Highly recommend anyone who is undecided to take the long drive here or to the West Rim to make the most out of it and choose South Rim!
We spot what I believe to be a Gazelle.
This was definitely worth the early wake up, the 5 hour drive here and what will inevitably be a 5 hour drive back.
We spent a little over 4 hours at the park. Definitely not enough! Maybe next time we will consider staying overnight at a nearby hotel or on the park itself.
The journey back to Vegas was uneventful. We stopped off in Kingsman for food and fuel reload and got back to Sin City around 10:30pm. Exhausted!