How To See The Grand Canyon In One Day

I am blessed that my work allows me to travel to new places pretty regularly. Even though my travels are spent working, short and long trips, it still is nice to be able to travel to parts of the country for research, supplier meetings, press checks, trainings, trade shows, and etc. I work for a company that I absolutely love, on a business that is both exciting and unique at the same time; I’ve learned so much in my 2 years there, more than I have ever learned in any of my jobs previously. Every year in August, the company that I work for hosts a distribution show in Las Vegas for our customers and partners. This show is always a nightmare because there’s so much work leading up to it, and when we finally get there,we are working the event for one whole week! It gets to be very exhausting, albeit fun at the same time.

My team and I normally fly in on Sunday, so we are there ready to rock and roll early Monday morning, but as always, I like to fly in a little bit early (usually an early AM flight), so I can do some sightseeing. Last year I flew in early Sunday morning, and managed to do a little pool day at the hotel before meeting up with my colleagues that very night for dinner. This year, I decided to fly in on Saturday instead because I wanted to see the deserts outside of Las Vegas and to see the Grand Canyons. I managed to convince one of my coworkers to come with me, so we both flew in together on Saturday, and got on our little mini vacation to the Grand Canyons that weekend.. and here I am, about to tell you all about it.

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Before I left, I did some research on the topic to ensure I make the most out of my 1-day trip. I came across this blog post by Indiana Jo, and the author shared some really good tips on how to make the best out of your 1-day trip to the Canyons.  However, I didn’t manage to do everything on the list because I also wanted to squeeze in a trip to Hoover Dam on the way back to Las Vegas, and I also wanted to visit my dear friend, whom I’ve known since 2005, since she now lives in Vegas too. So, in retrospect, my 1-day Canyon trip was more like a half-a day trip instead, which meant I had to improvise and make my very own list of things to see and do while I was out there this year.

In N Out

It is not at all surprising (to me) that my very first item on the to-do list is to go find an In N Out Burger. It is essentially the Chick-Fil-A of the West, which means it is just a regular fast food joint that serves pretty good burgers instead of chicken sandwiches and shoe string fries versus waffle fries. Their menu selection is very small, but behold, there is such a thing as the secret menu. I am a pretty straightforward eater, and got something off their standard menu, but I did get a little add-on from the secret menu as well. I ended up getting a Double Double Animal Style with french fries. Yum! We got there at a pretty good timing (11 AM), right when they opened, and right before the lunch rush. Phew!

Scenic Drive | Overlook Stops

I’ll have to admit that one of the best things on the drive out to the South Rim (read below to see why I chose this Rim), is the scenic drive. I didn’t realize how gorgeous it was going to be until we started driving. If you love the desert, you will find it absolutely beautiful out there! The multiple elevation points make it even more breathtaking because you get to see valleys after valleys and mountains after mountains.. all made from sand and rocks!

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I was quite the speedy driver, which meant I’m always driving in the fast lane. With that, I missed some really pretty scenic points because I couldn’t get on the exit ramp soon enough since I was always zooming through. So, please slow down so you don’t miss these lookout points like I did. On the way back to Vegas though, we managed to stop by one lookout point near Lake Mead, and it was beautiful! Not as gorgeous as on the way out of Vegas but still really nice.

How do you know which rim to visit?

When you decide to go to the Grand Canyons, there are 4 different rims / sides to choose from. There’s the North & South Rim, and Grand Canyon East & West.

The best rim for Las Vegas visitors is the West rim because it is closer to get to (a 45 minute drive), and it is known for the skywalk bridge. I didn’t choose this rim because it doesn’t seem like it offers a lot of viewpoints, therefore I decided to skip it. I do wish to go visit this rim one day and try out the skywalk eventually with R, because I’ll admit, it does look pretty cool. From their website, it looks like you can do other things here as well such as go zip lining, visit the Hualapai settlement and much more.

I chose to visit the South rim which is further to get to because it is in Arizona (about a 3.5 hour drive from Vegas), because I wanted to get the true Grand Canyon experience. The South Rim is the popular rim because it is where most movies are filmed, photos are taken, because it offers more than a dozen viewpoints. The South Rim also offers several trails that you can hike to see more of the Canyons while you are there. I thought that initially we will have time to hike the Bright Angel Trail, but even though it was a shorter trail, we didn’t have time to do that as well. I hope to come back with R and Alden one day so we can see more of this beauty.

Where To Stay?

There are several options as to where you can stay when visiting the South Rim. After my hours of research, I found 4 places that you can choose from ranging from furthest to nearest.

  1. Flagstaff, AZ
  2. Williams, AZ
  3. Tusayan, AZ
  4. Grand Canyon National Park

We chose to stay in Williams, AZ because Flagstaff was too far by my definition, even though it is only 30 minutes further from Williams. If you want to save more on hotels, going furthest will help you get to a pretty inexpensive hotel that are not as quite shady. Williams is a cute town about 49 miles away from the park, and it is situated near the historic route 66 highway. Because we traveled there during monsoon season (yes, there’s such a thing), it was raining when we got there and it was really cold. We didn’t get to walk around the town square, even though they have cute little shops and restaurants / bars, because it was raining and because we were tired. After arriving, we stayed in the hotel for about 1.5 hours while I do school work and then we headed out to dinner at South Rim Beer & Wine Garage. We got back to our hotel early and went to bed at 8:30 PM which was perfect because it was right around my bedtime anyways, on Eastern time. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express; Standard hotel, nice clean rooms and friendly staff.

Grand Canyon Park 

My short experience at Grand Canyon Park was unbelievable. We woke up early at 3:30 AM to make time for the 1-hour drive, in time to catch day break. It was freezing that morning! When we got there, there were already people gathered up at Mather’s Point waiting to see the sun come out. As soon as I parked the car, we jumped out and quickly huddled, along with a few others. I heard nothing but shuffling feet, whispering and saw nothing but some light from the horizon peaking. As soon as the sun came out, we were literally gasping. What a sight to see! We were there for about 2 hours and eventually left at 7 AM. It was hard to leave but we felt very fulfilled. Hope R and I can come here again sometime next year. It was really inexpensive to visit the park. We only had to pay $25 for the entrance fee. More info here.

Hoover Dam 

Our last stop before heading back into the city was the Hoover Dam. We did not do the guided tour because by the time we got there it was close to lunch time and we were already getting tired. We spent only about 30 minutes at the dam. We didn’t have to pay for parking because we were there for a short while and we decided not to park in the covered garage, but instead opted for the open parking spaces; They are scattered evenly around the dam area which was nice. Hoover Dam was such a cool experience – If I get to visit again, I’d probably want to do the tour to learn more about the history and take the elevators down but if I asked R, he’d say, “Why don’t you just Google?” – He does have a point!

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I know that this is probably not the best way to see all there is to see out on the West coast but I had a very fulfilling trip. Even though I was exhausted, I felt refreshed and ready to rock and roll at the show after my short little trip. Sometimes, you just have to take that extra 10 minute, 1 hour or 1 day and go do something you don’t normally do. I swear it will do you so much good inside!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

xoxo

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