Las Vegas is an excellent base camp for a trip to the Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in all of the United States (it’s even visible from space!), and for many people, visiting it is a highlight of their travels. And while you’re vacationing in Las Vegas, you can check it off your to-do list, too, regardless of your time or transportation restrictions.

If you only have half a day, Maverick Helicopters can take you there and back…

There are many ways to experience the canyon, but one of the quickest is to take a helicopter ride. There are several in Las Vegas, including Maverick Helicopters, which offers multiple options to a variety of locations around the Grand Canyon.

To get from your hotel to the canyon and back to Las Vegas in half a day, you’ll travel to the West Rim, which is Hualapai Land, and depart from Maverick’s Las Vegas Strip Terminal. The Wind Dancer tour offers 45 minute flights to and from the canyon over a variety of land formations and 30 minutes on the ground in the canyon itself, where you can take in incredible views and get incredible photos. Plus, you’ll get tons of cool facts about your pilot’s various sites.

If you have about an extra hour, you can do the Maverick’s Grand Canyon West tours. The Grand Canyon West belongs to the Hualapai Tribe and includes several areas to enjoy not only natural landscapes, but also historical points of interest. The West Rim is also home to the Skywalk, an enormous horseshoe-shaped glass pedestrian bridge that juts out over the floor of the canyon, allowing you the pleasure of looking down hundreds of feet with seemingly nothing between you and this floor. Maverick’s Grand Canyon West tours include the Skywalk Odyssey, where you’ll get fast-track entry to the Skywalk.

If you one day, Gray Line can take you to the South Shore or the West Shore…

Some of you just aren’t cut out for helicopters, and if so, Gray Line has you covered. The well-known tour company offers a variety of tours from Vegas, both by bus and luxury van, and the price is excellent. It takes a full day (12 or 14 hours, depending on whether you go to the West Rim or the South Rim).

Tours include shuttle transportation to the Gray Line terminal from your hotel, where you’ll depart from Las Vegas. If you choose the West Rim, you’ll have about a little less than a three-hour drive to Grand Canyon West, where a shuttle bus runs point-to-point; you also have the option of adding a Skywalk experience. You’ll have four hours here, so there’s plenty of time to check everything out.

It takes longer to reach the South Rim on Gray Line, but entry to Grand Canyon National Park is included. Along the way, your driver will tell you various facts about the Southwest and the history of the Grand Canyon. Once there, you’ll make stops at three distinct thrill zones where you’ll get a feel for the history of the canyon and the park in about three hours.

If you have a few days, plan an overnight visit to the South Rim, where you can…

The Grand Canyon has a long and winding history dating back thousands of years, and on the South Rim it has also encompassed a tourism aspect, as rail and road options have taken travelers (Route 66, the national highway that stretched from Chicago to the West Coast from the 1920s).

Today, you can find hotel rooms in both the South Rim and in Williams, Arizona, south of the Rim on Interstate 40. And while driving to the South Rim itself can take four to five hours from Las Vegas, the trip to Williams, Ariz., only takes about three and a half hours. Once there, you’ll find several hotels, including the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel, where the interior reflects the accommodations railroad passengers might have experienced long ago (but with all the modern conveniences, though safe, including a pub). It is right next to the historic Williams Depot and the railroad itself, which offers daily trips to the South Rim and back.

The depot was built over a century ago, as were the Grand Canyon depot and the El Tovar hotel. Now all are operated by Xanterra Travel Collection. Although you can get up at 100 in Vegas and book into Williams to catch the 9:30 a.m. train, it is recommended that you spend the night in Williams so you can have dinner, drinks, and rest.

Train enthusiasts will love the restored historic carriages, from Pullman carriages and coaches to first class carriages and observation dome. Even the diesel engines are restored (the railway has a huge marshalling yard where the cars are brought back to their former glory). Although the train leaves for the Grand Canyon at 9:30 a.m., half an hour earlier you’ll witness a ruckus in the fake western town built at one end of the railroad (best hope those outlaws drop their wild ways). Each car is equipped with restrooms and attendants and, depending on your class, food and drink. The trip to the canyon takes about two hours and 15 minutes, and along the way, you’ll enjoy entertaining singers and musicians in western costume, your tour guide will give you fun facts about the railroad and the park, and you’ll have great views from the large windows. It’s utterly charming and you’ll feel decades go by as you get closer to the park.

Once in the park, you will spend a few hours at the edge where El Tovar is located (and the buses here allow you to discover other parts of the park). If you have reservations at El Tovar or one of the few other hotels here, you can check in. otherwise, hop back on the train, where you’ll enjoy a leisurely return to Williams (unless train robbers appear!).

However you experience the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon, we think you’ll agree that it’s a great side trip to take while enjoying your bustling Las Vegas vacation (which is also a wonder in itself).

Maverick Helicopters, 702.261.0007

Grand Canyon West, grandcanyonwest.com

Gray Line, 702.739.7777

Grand Canyon Railroad and Hotel, thetrain.com

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