The Grand Canyon: West or South
It's the middle of summer and the sun is shinning bright over the California desert, windows are rolled down and I can here the subtle sounds of The Eagles playing on the radio. Again, I find myself driving on a stretch of highway that I have become so familiar with, interstate 15. For anyone from Southern California I'm sure you can relate, it is a highway that has become famous for those taking the four journey towards Las Vegas, Nevada. But this time is different, I'm craving some adventure. So what do I do? Why I type the Grand Canyon in the navigation of course and exit the highway!
Never having been to the Grand Canyon before I wasn't really sure what to expect, all I knew is that it was one of the wonders of the world, famously photographed in books and magazines. Once entering Arizona and knowing that I was only a couple of hours away the excitement had built. The Arizona desert was unlike anything I had seen before, landscapes of reddish rock formations in all shapes and sizes. After a while I had finally arrived, there was a parking lot with an airport right next to it and what seemed like a huge gate blocking access to the park. Turns out I had driven into Grand Canyon West. West? I didn't even know there was a west but I guess I was a bit naive, the park is so massive that it is broken into sections.
The West Rim is not a part of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe and the Hualapai do collect a fee of $42.99 per person in order to enter. It has become one of the most talked about destinations at the Grand Canyon, attracting about 700,000 visitors each year. The destination has become increasingly popular among Grand Canyon tourists since the March 2007 grand opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is a glass bottomed bridge suspended over the canyon that gives you the feeling of walking on air, however it is $37 more to partake. I had hoped to hike trails and explore freely but sadly that is not the case at the West Rim, they do however offer great vistas at the Skywalk, Guano Point, Eagle Point, and the Hualapai Ranch where you can have an old western shoot out.
Since my memorable, spur of the moment trip to the Grand Canyon, which ended up being the West Rim, I have since returned again. This time on my recent road trip exploring the Southwest, with a plan and a little more preparation I decided to visit the South Rim. Here I was excited to know that I would be able to explore at free will and hike any of the numerous trails inside of the park. Unlike the West Rim, the South Rim is part of the Grand Canyon National Park and open all year round. It cost $15 per person for park entry or a late fee of $30 if you're entering with a non commercial vehicle. I spent a more considerable amount of time this time around, walking the trails and even stumbling across a geology museum; however, the vistas remained just as impressive.
The Grand Canyon to me has become one of my favorite places to visit around the world. Theirs no words to describe the feeling you get as you're overlooking millions of years of natural history. For those looking to get a glimpse of its beauty and at only 2 1/2 hours from Las Vegas, then the West Rim will undoubtedly take your breath away. If you're looking to really dive into what the Grand Canyon has to offer, like hiking the trails, camping down by the Colorado River or hop aboard a train that'll whisk you through the canyon, then the South Rim is the best choice. Regardless of what part you visit, the Grand Canyon is and will forever be a magical place.
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About The Author
In 2015, Founder of TMDE Paul Martinez left a career in sales for a life of exploring. In just a matter of months he had visited over 10 countries, 30 cities, 10 states, countless national parks, taken thousands of photographs, and did a ton of soul-searching. His search uncovered a deep passion for exploration; which he now believes to be the essence of the human spirit, and led to the birth of The Modern Day Explorer. You can follow him on his personal journey by visiting his Instagram, and hopefully continue to support TMDE by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.