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First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

UK
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First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

We will be staying in LV in January and plan to visit the Grand Canyon - we only have 5 days and want to see as much as possible but the Grand Canyon will be the highlight. We are undecided on how to see to and get the most from the trip - our options are 1) to take a plane from LV to the South Rim, helicopter tour while there as well as sightseeing opportunities 2) helicopter to West Rim with landing and lunch (not bothered much about food, more about getting a feel for the place) with a fly over the strip on the return journey or 3) helicopter to West Rim, not landing and fly over the strip on return. We're not interested in the Skywalk so a road trip there would be of little interest, but not sure which of the above options would give us the best experience of the Canyon. Any suggestions please.

Tucson, Arizona
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1. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Skip the so-called West Rim. It is not in the Grand Canyon National Park. It is a side canyon, much shallower that at the GCNP South Rim, and it is very costly. The only attraction there is the skywalk. The west rim is referred to most often as a rip off.

My suggestion -- Book a night or two at one of the rim lodges at the south rim of the GCNP. Drive there and visit all or most of the viewpoints, then hike part way down one of the trails, Bright Angel or South Kaibab to get a different perspective that you get from the rim.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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2. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

First of all, there are "best way to see the Grand Canyon" links under the "Top Questions" both here in this forum as well as the Las Vegas forum. This is a good place to start and will probably answer most of your initial questions.

What you refer to as the "west rim" is actually a commercial destination called "Grand Canyon West", which isn't part of the Grand Canyon National Park. For information about tours to this area, you'll find more material on the Las Vegas forum. Very few of us regulars on this, the national park forum, would recommend a visit to GCW over the national park.

The "best" way to see the Grand Canyon is to rent a car in Las Vegas and drive to the National Park and spend at least one night in one of the lodges in the Park. The best experience at the Canyon is the one spent on the ground. A helicopter or plane tour can be exciting but isn't a necessary component.

Book the lodge directly with Xanterra, at www.grandcanyonlodges.com. You may be surprised how booked January already is, so make reservations as soon as possible.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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3. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Unanimous. You failed to list the best option, and the best way to see the Grand Canyon.

Grandcanyonwest, aka west rim, is the skywalk and the gimmicks they have built there for profit only. It is NOT the Grand Canyon. You need to go the GCNP at the south rim. Best way to do it is by car with a night or two inside the park. Book your park lodging right now. www.grandcanyonlodges.com

Uden, The...
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4. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Keep an eye on the weather in januari. Can be snow www.az511.com Other than that, go to Grand Canyon National Park south rim. You'll never forget it.

Tet

Los Angeles
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for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
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5. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Don't even think that West Rim is the Grand Canyon, it's like saying the funrides at the drug store are Disneyland. As my dad says, "That part out there is just a ditch." OKay, he exaggerates, but only a little.

If you do fly by fixed wing aircraft to Grand Canyon/Tusayan what are you plans from then on, aside from a helicopter ride? Seeing the canyon as a human being, on the ground, is the most memorable thing you'll do in a long while. I wouldn't go on a helicopter ride first - I'd head to South Rim, and I'd have an accommodation there.

The best way is what RedRox always says (drive). But if there's some reason you can't drive (it won't take much longer than the plane ride by the time you go to the airport and arrange transportation on the GC side).

Merely flying over the Canyon is not the same as seeing it. There's a lot to see there, but if you leave Vegas early and stay one night and leave late the next afternoon, you can see a lot. There is likely to be snow here and there in January, but it is unlikely that you would need snow tires (I recommend a higher carriage automobile in January or at least a car with higher clearance, not low slung).

UK
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6. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Thank you for your suggestions. We really don't want to hire a car as we're not that keen on driving overseas and as we only have a short time in LV we didn't really want to use 2 days visiting the Grand Canyon so I guess it looks like the plane out to, a few hours in the Canyon and a helicopter tour. We were looking at Papilion and they seem to have good reviews and hopefully there won't be enough snow to spoil the trip, so thank again your your help.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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7. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

FWIW, if you want to do the helicopter tour for the "excitement" factor, that's fine and understandable, but understand that you will see *more* by staying on the ground in the park. The helicopter tours involve, imo, a heavy time penalty for the very little time you actually fly over the canyon -- you'll be shuttled to the airport (which is not in the park) and check-in in advance, plus the first 5+ minutes of the flight to get to the Canyon. Also, the main corridor section is a total no-fly zone. The "30 minute" flight can take up most of 2 hours out of the very short 3 hours you'll have to begin with. You won't be left with "a few hours" to spend on the ground when all is said and done. The reviews are good, yes, because a helicopter flight is almost always a fun thing to do but I personally think that the reviewers just don't realize what they didn't get a chance to see...

Tucson, Arizona
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8. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

The title of your post was quite misleading. You say you want the best way to see the Grand Canyon because "the Grand Canyon will be the highlight". Yet two of your options are not even going to the REAL Grand Canyon National Park and the third option is not near the top of anyone's list of the "best" ways to see the GC. And you say GCNP is to be the highlight of your trip but you don't want to take the time to really SEE it.

Since you don't seem to want to take anyone's advice, I'm not sure why you bothered posting in the Grand Canyon forum. I suggest you post in the Las Vegas forum and ask about the best way to see the West Rim. But if you want to see the real GCNP and absolutely will not drive, take one of the bus trips to the south rim -- 10 hours riding the bus with about 3 hours to view the canyon from a couple of viewpoints.

Sorry if this offends you. But when you ask for advice about the BEST way to see the GCNP, we kind of assume you would actually take the unanimous advice of experts and others with quite a bit of knowledge about the subject.

Wickenburg, Arizona
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9. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

The best way is indeed to drive to the south rim and spend a night there. Anything else is more lengths behind than the rest of the field behind racehorse Eclipse when he won his races ... The West Rim is NOT seeing the Grand Canyon. It's nit even seeing the west rim, since there is no west rim. A river has two sides, and since the Colorado at that point runs toughly (okay, very roughly, but for the sake of argument), the GC has a south and a north rim, nothing else. What it does have is myriad side canyons, and the Skywalk lets you briefly gaze down one of those.

UK
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10. Re: First Visit to Grand Canyon - best way to see it?

Oops, sorry, didn't mean to upset anyone but you've given me a lot of information that I can now go away and think about before making a decision and I'm sure we'll have a wonderful time, albeit brief.