Grand Canyon West Destination Guide
Stretching across Hualapai territory, this area is a 3-hour and 45 minute drive west of the National Park and a 2-hour drive or 35-minute flight from Las Vegas.
The West Rim does not see quite as vast temperature changes as the South Rim does, but still has very distinct summer and winter seasons. The “summer” tourist season is the longest by far, with nearly 300 sunny days and temperatures around 90-100 F (32-37 C). Winter temperatures can drop to 30-40 F ( -1-4 C). It is not uncommon for the canyon walls to retain heat within the lower gorge areas, so the canyon floor is often much warmer than the rim. Visitors to the West Rim are encouraged to dress lightly or in layers, especially when visiting both the top and bottom of the canyon.
Because the West Rim is property of the Hualapai people, a special fee called the Legacy Pass is required to enter. For the convenience of our passengers, Papillon Airways includes this fee in the price of West Rim tours from Las Vegas. Tours with a Skywalk upgrade also include the bridge’s admission fee. Those who travel to the West Rim independently must purchase the Legacy package at the Grand Canyon West Welcome Center before they will be permitted to enter.
The Grand Canyon West Rim is located within the territory of the Hualapai Nation. Visitors to the West Rim have the rare opportunity to explore ancient native dwellings and artifacts as well as watch exciting traditional performances of song and dance by local Hualapai people.
This noble tribe (known to themselves as the People of the Tall Pines) likely reached the desert Southwest what would later become the United States in about 1300 AD. A tribe of hunters and gatherers, the Hualapai thrived atop and within the canyon walls for centuries without interference.
In 1883, an executive order declared by President Arthur designated a 1 million-acre reservation for the Hualapai tribe. In fact, 108 miles of the Grand Canyon belong to the Hualapai. Today, over half of the 2,300 enrolled Hualapai tribespeople live on the reservation.
Guano Point is a peninsula of rock extending into the gorge of the West Rim. Those who venture out to the end of this stretch of land will discover incredible 360-degree views of the canyon walls and the Colorado River below. Also at this location is a cafe serving traditional Western barbeque dishes.
This shape was etched into the West Rim’s rock face by millions of years of erosion from the rushing Colorado River waters. Revered by the Hualapai people, this formation nearly perfectly resembles a massive eagle spreading its wings in flight. Visitors can reach this remarkable feature onboard the Grand Canyon West Rim’s complimentary shuttle service.
The Grand Canyon Skywalk, built in 2007, offers one of the most exciting West Rim sightseeing experiences available. This construction is perched right at the edge of the rim; its massive horseshoe-shaped bridge extending 70 ft out over the canyon gorge. The Skywalk bridge features a glass floor, allowing guests to gaze down 4,000 feet to the canyon floor below them!
Step back in time to the Wild West at this cowboy town recreation. Here visitors can test their skill on a mechanical bull, enjoy a bite to eat in the saloon, and pose for pictures in a mock jail cell. Learn to lasso from a cowboy performer, then watch an old-fashioned quickdraw duel! Hualapai Ranch is the perfect start to a Grand Canyon vacation.
Landing at the Bottom
Only at the Grand Canyon West are visitors able to quickly and safely access the canyon floor without having to hike or climb. Instead, an exhilarating helicopter tour can take passengers from the rim’s surface to the bank of the Colorado River in just minutes. This helicopter descent between the massive canyon walls is a remarkable and rare sightseeing opportunity.
The Colorado River was one of the main forces that created this immense rock formation over millions of years. Even today, the rushing waters of this mighty river continue to erode the Grand Canyon deeper. Only at the West Rim can visitors board a Grand Canyon helicopter tour and touch down right at the bank of the Colorado River. After a short hike the dock at the river’s edge, passengers can board a pontoon boat for a short smooth-water cruise between the ancient canyon walls.
The Grand Canyon West is the rugged alternative to the more developed South Rim. However, this area is still widely accessible to visitors requiring extra assistance. There are three major points at the West Rim, all reachable onboard a complimentary (and wheelchair-accessible) shuttle service.
The first stop is Hualapai Ranch, a recreation of a Wild West cowboy town. Here all of the restaurants and shops have ramp entrances with a light gravel walking area.
The next stop is Eagle Point. This breathtaking canyon overlook offers paved areas in close proximity to the canyon rim. Additionally, the Skywalk Bridge located here is fully accessible.
The final stop is Guano Point. While this area features a steep viewpoint that requires climbing, fantastic sights are available from the paved area below. All dining options at the West Rim are also fully-accessible.