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The Grand Canyon winds its way about 277 miles across northern Arizona, beginning at Lee’s Ferry and ending at the Grand Wash Cliffs just before the Arizona/Nevada border. The entire Grand Canyon is located in the state of Arizona although "Grand Canyon West" is a private, popular destination for visitors from Las Vegas as well. Each area of the Canyon is unique so it is important to know the differences between the South Rim, North Rim, Supai and "Grand Canyon West."
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon generally includes from the town of Tusayan, just outside the National Park south entrance, to the Grand Canyon Historic Village and winding along the canyon rim from Desert View to Hermit’s Rest. (see detailed map at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit ) This part of the Grand Canyon has the most spectacular, awe-inspiring views: the much heralded, yet indescribable beauty and majesty of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. If you are going to the Grand Canyon for the first time or you think it might be your only time or you just want to see what everyone else is talking about, this is the part of the Canyon you must see. Facts and figures on width and depth and even pictures cannot do justice to this amazing place as anyone who has been there can attest. The National Park website has excellent detail about this area as well as the North Rim.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is rugged and relatively inaccessible country usually frequented by avid hikers and campers looking for a completely isolated but amazingly beautiful ‘outback’ kind of area. There is not an airstrip on the North Rim and the only access is by road. The North Rim is accessible from Southern Utah (and Las Vegas as well), or in Arizona by driving all the way around the Canyon from the south. It is also possble to do a strenuous hike from one rim down, across the bottom of the canyon and back up the other side. (Not for the inexperience or unprepared)Supai, home of the Havasupai People, is a beautiful spot west of the South Rim, known for incredible waterfalls. This area is also relatively inaccessible (only by hiking, horseback, or helicopter). Visits to Havasupai lands including the falls require permits and advance reservations from the tribe. Information can be found on the tribal web site.
Toward the end of the Grand Canyon is "Grand Canyon West," on the Hualapai Reservation. This area is the most recently developed location within the Grand Canyon. (www.destinationgrandcanyon.com ) Here, along the Rim, the Hualapai have created a tourist area comprised of four distinct parts. First is the Airport, the best way to arrive due to long distances and some poor road conditions. Scenic air tours fly in from Phoenix (www.westwindairservice.com) and Las Vegas (www.lvhelicopters.com ) and several helicopter companies provide the unique experience of a 10 minute ride to the bottom of the Canyon. (www.sundancehelicopters.com ) This is not allowed anywhere else in the Canyon. Next is the Hualapai Ranch, an ‘Old West Town’ with cowboys, horses, wagon rides, cowboy games, entertainment and even a few cabins for overnight visitors. About ten minutes down the road is Eagle Point which boasts the famed Glass Skywalk (which is above a side canyon and is not above the Colorado River), an Indian Village with authentic dwellings of various local tribes and Native American Performances. Last but definitely not least is Guano Point, the farthest overlook with some of the best views of the Canyon in this area. The Hualapai People’s development of this part of their land is their sole source of income, and it is constantly evolving. A tour to this part of the Canyon is best for those who have already experienced the South Rim and for those wanting an ‘Experience’ tour rather than the immense size and majesty of the South Rim vistas. It should be noted that GCW is not part of the national park, and national parks entry passes do not apply. Cost for entering GCW range from about $25 to about $80 per person depending on attractions included. It is also possible to drive to GCW by car, however the last 14-mile section of road into GCW is in very poor condition; a park and drive shuttle is offered for additional cost. It is recommended not to drive rental cars on the unpaved section of road as nearly all rental car companies prohibit taking their vehicles on unpaved roads.
Each part of the Canyon has its own beauty and appeal. Knowing the differences can help you make the most of your trip to one of the most incredible spots on Earth.