Going to the Grand Canyon West Rim was always a dream of mine. I had visited Las Vegas once before and had gotten the opportunity to visit but passed it up. I had been regretting it ever since. That is, until my husband and I was planning a trip to Las Vegas. I poured through all kinds of research trying to decide if it was something we could pull off. It’s a 2 hr. drive and really the only way we could do it was if we went to the closest location where you enter the Reservation. The Reservation charges people $46 a person. I’m a little biased about this one. It’s a National Treasure. I don’t believe that you should have to pay money to see a canyon. No one owns it. I’m used to exploring parks for free, or at least for the cost of a parking pass. You can see my reluctance.
Step 1 – Commit to seeing the Grand Canyon West Rim
After talking with many people we decide to go for it. I am so glad we did too! Not only did I get to check another state off my quest to visit all 50 states, but I also got to one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Step 2 – Rent a Car
Car rentals are relatively inexpensive from the airport. On our trip, we determined that it would cost the same to rent a car for the entire weekend and pay to get into the canyon, then it would cost for the two of us to take one of the tour trips the hotels offer. The best part was, we now had the freedom of our own car and could make as many stops along the way. While you are still in town, make sure to load up the car with some essential road trip snacks. There are not a lot of places to stop along the way.
Step 3 – Drive To Grand Canyon West
Take the 2-hour drive due east. Getting there is pretty much a straight shot, with only two roads to really worry about. Anyone can do it! This was one of the most exciting parts of our trip. As seasoned day trippers already, we enjoyed getting to see the desert for once. Our favorite detour was seeing the cactuses and the Joshua Trees. What looks like a cross between a cactus and a tree.
Step 4 – Getting your Tickets
Once arriving we found that the owners of Grand Canyon West, the Hualapai Indian Tribe to do an excellent job running the exhibit. After seeing everything they offered, we quickly got over our reluctance to pay. After you park, you must make the decision on what all you want to do there. Basically, do you want to walk on the skywalk and get a meal included? Or do you just want to explore on your own? We chose to do the cheaper options, mostly because I’m not a fan of man-made attractions over natural wonders. Either way, they will drive you to all three different locations in air-conditioned busses. They also had food, drinks, shopping and restrooms at each location. These are all features that we may not have had if we ventured a little farther to the National Park, which also charges admission.
Step 5 – Hop on a Bus
We decided to skip the manufactured looking old west town and headed straight over to Eagle Point. This is where you will find the Grand Canyon West Skywalk. If you purchase the gold package, you can get access to it. After getting out to the location, I’m happy with our decision to skip the skywalk. The skywalk takes you out a little ways over the canyon and brings you back. I didn’t think being on top of it would enrich my experience any, just add to the commercialism of it all.
Guano Point is the third location they stop at, our second. There you can see the remanence of the Guano Mine. There is a hiking trail that brings you to the old structure that they used to help retrieve the guano right below it. And yes, when they say ‘Guano’ they really do mean bat droppings. Form 1930s – 1959 they have been coming up with all kinds of different ways to try and retrieve the precious fertilizer. In the end, they decided that it just wasn’t cost effect to get there. You can find out all about the history at MyGrandCanyonPark.com. I found that Guano Point to be a better location to visit because it wasn’t as populated and commercialized. It also gave you the opportunity to scale some cliffs if you wanted to.
One of the most amazing aspects of the whole place was that lack of safety railings. In 2014 it was estimated that 4.5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year and only about 12 people die from a fall. It’s astounding. We live in a world full of safety mechanisms and this place has been left undisturbed. I’m grateful. I think people’s own self-preservations instincts kick in and they stay away from the edge. Still a little unnerving as you want to peer down. If you are one of these people, I recommending getting a ticket to do the skywalk. Otherwise sit back and enjoy some of the spectacular views.
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