Havasu Canyon: 200 miles W of Grand Canyon Village; 70 miles N of Ariz. 66; 155 miles NW of Flagstaff; 115 miles NE of Kingman
Grand Canyon West: 240 miles W of Grand Canyon Village; 70 miles N of Kingman; 115 miles E of Las Vegas, NV
With five million people each year visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, creating inevitable traffic congestion and parking hassles, you may want to consider an alternative to the South Rim. The North Rim is one option, but it’s closed from November to mid-May, and in summer it too has its share of clogged traffic. So where else can you go?
A visit to Havasu Canyon, on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is one alternative, where a 20-mile round-trip hike or horseback ride—similar to that from Grand Canyon Village to Phantom Ranch—takes you to a decidedly different canyon floor setting, with stunning blue-green waterfalls. You’ll need a permit, however—day hiking is not permitted at Havasu Canyon—which requires advance planning; otherwise, you’ll have to content yourself with a long look from the rim.
West of there, there’s also Grand Canyon West, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Best known for its much-hyped Skywalk, it’s primarily a tour-bus destination from Las Vegas, well supplied with cafeteria-style restaurants, contrived attractions, and as much buzzing helicopter and small-plane traffic as any busy airport (this is the only place where you can fly down into the canyon). Still, if you have very little time to spare but desperately want to see something that looks like the Grand Canyon, it may be just the answer for you.