One option available if you want to visit the Grand Canyon is to take a bus tour. There are tours that last one day or that allow an overnight stay. This is a good option for people who are visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time, or for those visiting Las Vegas or Arizona and would like to include a visit to the Grand Canyon in their schedule. This article is going to focus on the day tour leaving from Las Vegas.

The Itinerary

When planning a one day Grand Canyon bus tour, keep in mind that it does indeed take all day. Plan to start the day early, around 6 or 7 am, and not end until 9 pm at the earliest. The bus leaves from the Strip and will have a stop at the Hoover Dam. From the Hoover Dam the bus continues for a couple of hours before making a rest stop at a convenience store. Then the bus drives to a stop for lunch, usually somewhere in Arizona along Route 66. After lunch the next stop is the Grand Canyon. The time spent at the Grand Canyon is approximately 2 hours. When it's time to head back, the bus will make a rest stop along the way. Upon returning to Las Vegas the bus will drop you off directly at your hotel.

What to Expect

A hotel on the Strip will be designated as a meeting point in the morning (you will know this information at the time you book the tour). Whichever hotel you are staying at, the tour company will arrange a shuttle to drop you off at the designated hotel. You will provide your hotel information when booking the trip. You will check-in and receive a nametag. This tag is important as it corresponds you to your bus, and there are usually several buses going on the same tour in any given day. At check-in they provide a snack and coffee. The first snack is free; if you want anything else you must pay for it. The bus driver wants to be on schedule so don't be late! It is only courtesy that you arrive on time and don't hold everyone else up.

Hoover Dam

The bus drivers also act as the tour guide, and they are pretty good at it. They do a lot of talking while driving the bus, mostly about the sights seen along the way and information about the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. However, the buses are also equipped with DVD players and they will show videos related to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. On the way back a movie might be shown. Listen to the bus driver, as he also gives logistical and time information about the tour, breaks, etc.

The drive to the Hoover Dam is quick, as it is only located about 50 miles from the Strip. The stop is very short, about 15-20 minutes, just long enough to take a few pictures and a look at the Dam.

From the Hoover Dam to the lunch stop the drive is longer, approximately 2 hours, with a rest stop along the way to stretch your legs and a smoke break. Lunch is at a historical railroad station along route 66. It's a decent sit-down lunch at a buffet. The restaurant includes a gift shop. The bus driver also drives along the town's main street before getting back on the main highway, which is another opportunity to take pictures and learn some history.

It is about another hour or so before arriving at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The driver will give detailed instructions on where to go and how much time you have. The stops at the Grand Canyon include a visitor's center and gift shops. There are hiking and bike trails to walk along and tons of photo opportunities.

The journey back includes one rest stop at a combination convenience store/souvenir shop. Other than that, the bus will go back directly to the strip. A movie is shown on the bus as well.


· If going during the summer, make sure to take plenty of sunscreen and water. If bringing bottled water is inconvenient, it can be bought at the rest stops or directly from the driver, who keeps coolers under the bus.

· There are plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs, so wait until you get to the Grand Canyon to do your shopping. Don't buy any from the convenience store on the way up there; they are cheap quality and very expensive. If you forget to buy something while at the Grand Canyon, the rest stop on the way back also has a gift shop and a decent selection of items.

· The bus driver is very knowledgeable about the area. If it is your first time visiting the Grand Canyon and would like to plan a longer trip in the future, don't be afraid to ask the driver for recommendations.

· Although there are stops along the way, a lot of time is spent on the bus. Bring a book, mp3 player, or something else to keep you entertained during the down time on the bus. There is plenty of room to accommodate a tote bag or backpack, so don't be afraid to pack your favorite snacks, water, and other necessities.

· Be sure to eat a good breakfast before meeting at the hotel, or at least bring something to eat in the morning. The 'snack' the company provides before you leave on the bus is not filling enough to last until lunchtime. The lunch is a buffet, so it is a satisfying meal for your walk around the Grand Canyon.

· Call the tour company 1 or 2 days before the tour date to confirm your reservation. Also use this opportunity to ask any questions about the trip. The tour companies will usually try to fit special needs, such as physical or dietary.

· If you enjoy the trip and have a great driver, tip him at the end of the day. There is no right or wrong amount, just something to show your appreciation.

Picture taken from one of the Grand Canyon hike trails

Pictures, movies, and video of the Grand Canyon do not do it justice. Seeing the Grand Canyon live and in person is a wonderful experience, and there are many different ways to enjoy it. Taking a Grand Canyon bus tour is just one of the simplest and more affordable options.