Grand Canyon West Rim

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The Colorado River forms an immense gorge nearly five hundred miles long (850 km) as it cuts through the Colorado Plateau. This gorge extends all the way from Moab Utah southwestward through the Glen Canyon Recreational Area, where it is largely submerged under Lake Powell; through Marble Canyon; and eventually into the Grand Canyon National Park. Beyond that, much of the gorge is submerged beneath Lake Mead before it reappears for a short distance south of Boulder Dam before the landscape flattens along the California – Arizona border.

The West Rim is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation

Grand Canyon National Park encompasses over 100 miles (150 km) of the gorge at its deepest widest and most spectacular part. In the eastern half of the park where the canyon is over 5,000 feet deep and nearly 20 miles wide, the National Park Service owns the lands on both sides of the gorge. In the western half of the park, the Havasupai and Hualapai Indian Tribes own the lands south of the gorge. Near the far western edge, the Hualapai Indian Tribe has constructed a tourist attraction that they have named “The West Rim of the Grand Canyon”.

The main advantage of the West Rim is its proximity to Las Vegas. It is only a two-hour drive or a 15-minute flight from Las Vegas to the West Rim, whereas it requires at least five hours to drive to the South Rim Visitor Center of Grand Canyon National Park. Many Las Vegas tour companies offer helicopter, bus or van tours to this West Rim. They can pick you up at your hotel in the morning, take you on a tour of the west rim and return you to your hotel the same afternoon.

The Hualapai Nation has constructed an airfield and a visitor center with various other tourist attractions near Guano Point on the rim of the Grand Canyon Gorge. They offer a number of scenic lookouts, hiking trails, reconstructed Indian dwellings, snack bar, restaurant, souvenir shop and an amphitheater featuring Native American dancers. Most recently, the Hualapai Nation added a Glass Sky Walk. This horseshoe-shaped ramp with floor and sides constructed entirely of plate glass extends out from the rim of the canyon 4,000 feet (1230 meters) above the Colorado River. A first class hotel and restaurant are currently under construction.

How to get there

If you drive to the West Rim, take Route 93 from Las Vegas to Boulder Dam and across it toward Kingman, Arizona. Watch for the large sign near the town of Dolan Springs, Arizona directing you to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, you must navigate over 20 miles of unpaved gravel road before you reach the edge of the Hualapai Reservation.

The Hualapai Tribe charges about $29 per person to visit the West Rim, which includes free rides between attractions on its shuttle busses. They charge an additional $29 per person to walk on the Glass Sky Walk, and a $20 per car parking fee. If you go via tour group, these fees are usually included in the price of your tour.


There are no overnight accommodations at the West Rim until the new hotel opens. The rustic Grand Canyon West Ranch is a few miles away, and the rather nice Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs is nearly two hours away. There are very good selections of accommodations in Boulder City to the north or Kingman to the south, but both are at least a two-hour drive.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo: Grand Canyon Skywalk with a rainbow. © Grand Canyon West
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