Two images side by side: the Grand Canyon National Park and the floor of the Grand Canyon West.

A Grand Canyon Rim Comparison

Which Grand Canyon Rim is Best?

The Grand Canyon is divided into two major sections: the Grand Canyon National Park (also known as the South Rim) and the West Rim. Other regions include the North Rim and the East Rim, which are far less accessible to casual visitors.

The South Rim contains some of the most world-famous views of Grand Canyon, and is a very developed and tourist-friendly location. You'll find plentiful dining options, historic hotels and lodging options, museums, shopping, and a variety of excursions like helicopter tours and hummer tours along the rim of the Grand Canyon.

The West Rim offers a less trafficked, close-to-nature experience with some truly unique sightseeing opportunities. At the West Rim, you can land at the very bottom of the Grand Canyon in a helicopter tour and enjoy a peaceful boat ride down the Colorado River between the canyon walls. The West Rim is also home to the world-famous Skywalk Bridge and a nearby Native American village open to visitors.

Because of the vastness of the Grand Canyon, it is difficult to experience both the South Rim and the West Rim in a single day. Still not sure which Grand Canyon region to visit on a day tour from Las Vegas? Our guide will break down the differences even further to help you choose!

South Rim

The South Rim features some of the most world-recognized sights of the striped canyon walls and deep rock gorges, like Mather Point and Yavapai Point. The South Rim is surrounded by the lush Kaibab Forest, which is home to Grand Canyon animals like elk, mule deer, mountain lions, rock squirrels, and endangered California condors.

Nestled along the canyon rim is the historic Grand Canyon Village, which contains a variety of lodging options including several historic hotels like the El Tovar and the Yavapai Lodge. Most hotels in the village are a short walking distance to the canyon's edge, and many also feature rooms with windows facing the Grand Canyon.

Several campgrounds can be found near the South Rim, as well, accommodating both tents and trailers; however, reservations are highly recommended as campsites are regularly booked solid during the summer months.

Despite its location deep in the Arizona desert, the South Rim experiences a huge range of weather patterns due to its high elevation. Summertime temperatures easily reach up to 100 F (37 C), and monsoon-style rain can quickly take over the bright sunshine in the summer. The temperature can regularly plummet to 0 F (-17) C in winter, and snow is an expected seasonal occurrence. Because of these abrupt weather changes, visitors to the South Rim are encouraged to monitor the forecast before visiting.

Within the South Rim are some of the deepest gorges in the entire Grand Canyon, the deepest being a mile from top to bottom. The floor can be reached by accomplishing a several-day hike down either the South Kaibab Trail or the Bright Angel Trail. If this massive trek doesn't sound like an option for you, you can also fly over the park on a Grand Canyon helicopter tour or a South Rim airplane tour! You'll see aerial views of both the South and North Rim, as well as the Kaibab Forest, the Colorado River, and the deepest and widest rock gorges in the park - including the oldest exposed rock on earth.

The nearest departure point to reach the Grand Canyon South Rim by commercial airplane is the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. The South Rim can be reached most conveniently via car from Flagstaff, Arizona. If you're planning to visit the South Rim from the Las Vegas Strip, you can conveniently do so on a Grand Canyon airplane flight from Las Vegas.

West Rim

At the Grand Canyon West Rim, visitors will enter a more desert landscape that creates a more rugged experience. This region is the home of the famous Skywalk Bridge, whose glass floor provides views straight to the canyon floor. Additionally, helicopter tours operating daily allow passengers to land at the very bottom of the canyon, which is only possible at the West Rim.

The Grand Canyon West Rim is the most convenient region of the canyon for visitors driving from Las Vegas, Nevada. The West Rim is approximately a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas, a 3.5-hour drive from Flagstaff, Arizona, and a 4-hour drive from the Grand Canyon South Rim (239 miles or approximately 384 kilometers driving distance). You can also visit the West Rim from Las Vegas on a Grand Canyon helicopter tour, with plenty of opportunity to customize your visit with landings on the bottom, Skywalk entry, and more!

The West Rim experiences a much more consistent desert climate, with approximately 300 sunny days annually. The temperature here ranges between 90-100 F (32-37 C) in summer and 30-40 F (-1-4 C) in winter. The canyon floor at the West Rim is often a higher temperature than the surface due to the heat retention within the canyon walls.

You can reach all the beautiful viewpoints and enjoy the activities available at the West Rim on an all-encompassing Grand Canyon day tour from Las Vegas!

Grand Canyon North Rim

The North Rim lies across the canyon gorge from the South Rim, boasting nearly untouched nature and dense forestry where local animals populate. The North Rim is most easily accessible to visitors via car, but a trip must be planned in advance as the frequently inclement weather here makes the region unreachable. In fact, the North Rim effectively shuts down for the entirety of the winter season annually due to the intense snowfall.

Despite its secluded location within the park, you can still experience the northern region of the Grand Canyon when you visit the South Rim. A Grand Canyon helicopter tour allows you to traverse the expanse of the northern canyon from the sky, with plenty of aerial views and photo opportunities.

Grand Canyon East Rim

To be technical, there is no official "East Rim" recognized by the National Park Service. However, you can still find views of the eastern portion of the canyon en route to Page, Arizona. This small city is surrounded by some of the most impressive natural landforms in the world, including Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the manmade Lake Powell.

You can enjoy a scenic journey from Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon on a sightseeing airplane with views of the eastern canyon, Lake Powell, and beautiful desert nature along the way. This day tour also includes a stop at Horseshoe Bend!

Book Your Grand Canyon Trip with Papillon Today!

Papillon Grand Canyon helicopters has been transporting adventurers over the Grand Canyon since 1965. We offer daily flights from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, with full access to both the South Rim and the West Rim, as well as destinations in Page, Arizona like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Our tour offerings include helicopter tours that can land on the very bottom of the canyon, sightseeing airplane tours, and open-air Hummer tours.

If you plan to visit the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, or are traveling to either rim of the Grand Canyon independently, we can enhance your Grand Canyon vacation with an aerial adventure you'll never forget!