WHICH RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON IS THE BEST RIM?

With four rims, it can often be difficult to decide which one to visit

AAA World Article

With four rims at the Grand Canyon, it can often be difficult to decide which rim to visit. Many guests add a stop at the Grand Canyon as a leg to another journey, such as Las Vegas or Sedona. In order to determine which rim might be best for your visit, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this your first time visiting?
  • What time of year are you traveling?
  • Who are you traveling with, and what are their interests?
  • How much time do you have to spend?
  • What kind of activities do you want to experience?

THE SOUTH RIM
Many consider the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to be the authentic Grand Canyon experience. It features vast, expansive views often seen in popular media. From the South Rim, you can experience close to two-dozen unique views of the Grand Canyon, many with sweeping views of the Colorado River. Approximately 5 hours from either Las Vegas or Phoenix, this is the most accessible rim of the Grand Canyon to travelers and is most frequently chosen by first time visitors.

Highlights of the South Rim:

  • Open year-round
  • Features four distinct seasons, with spring and fall being the best times to visit based on weather conditions
  • Lodging inside Grand Canyon National Park and nearby (make reservations six to nine months in advance)
  • IMAX theater, jeep tours, airplane tours helicopter tours and rafting excursions nearby

THE WEST RIM
The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most accessible to Las Vegas. The West Rim is not a part of the Grand Canyon National Park and is instead a part of the Hualapai Indian Tribal Lands. It is home to The Glass Skywalk, which is the main attraction of the West Rim.  The Skywalk allows guests to walk 70 feet out over the Grand Canyon with a glass floor below. Near the West Rim is Havasu Falls, one of five world-famous blue-green waterfalls.

Highlights of the West Rim:

  • The Glass Skywalk
  • Havasu Canyon, with five waterfalls; The canyon is challenging to view and is only accessible by a long hike, horseback or helicopter
  • Additional fees are required outside of a National Park Pass to enter the Hualapai Indian Tribal Lands 

GRAND CANYON EAST
Home to Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon East is home to hidden secrets such as the Little Colorado River Tribal Park. Hiking Horseshoe Bend allows visitors to get photos with the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the background.

Highlights of Grand Canyon East:

  • Unique photo opportunities
  • Hiking trails
  • Little Colorado River Tribal Park

THE NORTH RIM
Receiving only one-tenth of the visitors of the South Rim, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon runs about 10° cooler and has drastically different vegetation due to its higher altitude. The North Rim only has three major viewpoints and tend to showcase the width of the Grand Canyon. 

Highlights of the North Rim include:

  • Beautiful summer weather, but an overall shorter visitor season, open mid-May through mid-October
  • An opportunity to view the best fall color in the Grand Canyon region
  • Limited lodging, both inside the park and out
  • A haven for photographers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts