Nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. The deep, rocky abyss, where the earth just opens up, is beyond magnificent. There are a number of key areas from which the Grand Canyon can best be appreciated. The North Rim is generally inaccessible during the winter months, the West Rim caters mainly to day-trippers from Las Vegas, but the South Rim has the best-established tourist infrastructure, without ever really losing the sense of rural escape. It’s this rim that is most easily accessible on a bus tour from Phoenix, Arizona.
It would be impossible to visit the Grand Canyon without some means of transportation. For many, driving is part of the experience but the distance between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix is roughly 230 miles, which can be quite an exhausting trek. So, if you’d much rather be driven, then bus tours are one of the commonest and best value ways to get to the Grand Canyon and visit as many viewpoints along the edge as possible. Tours selected for this list depart from and return to Phoenix or its contiguous city of Scottsdale, which lies to the immediate east of Phoenix. Numerous factors, including itinerary, comfort, value for money and overall quality of the tour experience were all taken into account when bringing you this top five list.
FROM: $179/per person
Understandably, the round-trip distance of around 460 miles takes up quite a chunk of time, which is why you should expect these excellent day-long tours to run for at least 12 or 13 hours. That way, you can expect to spend at least three hours or more exploring the Grand Canyon National Park. One of the major perks of the journey itself is in passing the famous Route 66, so this tour effectively combines two of Arizona’s most iconic destinations in one day. Transport is by comfortable, air-conditioned van, with a maximum of 13 guests allowed. Time is allowed for you to walk part of the South Rim Trail, from which you can experience a magnificent, ever-evolving view. Meals are not included in the fee.
From $215/ per person
One thing that many first-time visitors to this region may not appreciate is that there are natural wonders all over this part of the USA, beyond the Grand Canyon. This slightly longer tour takes in the beautiful, barren monoliths around the desert town of Sedona roughly midway through the journey. Continue on the scenic drive, through Oak Creek Canyon. At the Grand Canyon there is time to visit two of the best viewpoints on the South Rim, with free time allowed at the latter. The tour guide is friendly and especially knows some of the best places to stop for photos along the way.
From $165/ per person
When taking a bus tour of the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, there is more than one scenic route that can be taken. This tour crams in a real mixed flavour of the American Southwest, combining the natural beauty of the South Rim, with that of the ponderosa pine-filled Coconino National Forest, and a little culture at Cameron Trading Post, located on the Navajo Reservation, where you can have lunch and buy handmade jewellery. This is also where you’ll get a glimpse of the Little Colorado River’s gorge, which is impressive, but only a taster for the real deal at the Grand Canyon. This 13-hour tour will include a maximum of 11 people.
From $429/ per person
To take your Grand Canyon tour from Phoenix to the next level, you must take to the skies and get a bird’s-eye view. This is a great way to better-appreciate the grandeur and scale of it, by flying over its deepest and widest sections. The helicopter flight takes up 45 minutes of the 13-hour tour, with the rest of the time dedicated to exploring sights like Route 66 and the Grand Canyon itself. Three hours is allotted for terrestrial exploration, along the excellent, 30-mile canyon rim road. All transportation fees are included in the ticket price but meals are not.
From $879/ per person
Given the large distance covered in a single day bus tour from Phoenix, a longer, more in-depth exploration of the Grand Canyon is a perfect solution for those with a little extra time who are looking for active adventure and immersion. Starting out in Scottsdale, right next to Phoenix, this tour heads straight for the South Rim, where your guide will lead you down the South Kaibab Trail that descends 4,800 feet (0.9 miles) to the floor of the Grand Canyon. There is plenty of hiking to be had once in the canyon, and you’ll spend two nights at different campsites, while learning about the canyon’s geology and natural history. Meals are included, as is the backpacking equipment. Bring your own hiking boots and appropriate clothing.