One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses over a million acres. Seeing all of it just isn’t possible, but a flight on one of the Grand Canyon helicopters will get you close. Choppers cover a lot of space in a short time. By the time your tour’s done, you’ll feel like you’ve seen everything.
The South Rim and the West Rim are the gateways to the Grand Canyon. If you leave from Tusayan, Arizona, which is the location of Grand Canyon National Park Airport, you’ll explore the South Rim. Tours that depart Las Vegas will go to the West Rim. There are no direct helicopter flights from Vegas to the South Rim. Further, there is no chopper service between the rims.
It takes a helicopter about 45 minutes to make the trip from Vegas to the West Rim, which is also know as Grand Canyon West. The route passes over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the Grand Wash Cliffs. Uniquely, helicopters are allowed to fly below the rim at Grand Canyon West and land at the bottom. Federal regulations prohibit this type of flight at the South Rim.
There are two types of Grand Canyon helicopter tours: air-only and landing. Aerial trips are ideal for visitors who are on a budget or have a small amount of time to sightsee the canyon. There also terrific for travelers who are looking simply to sample the National Park from a bird’s eye view.
Having said that, I want you to know that helicopter tours are a big deal at the West Rim as it’s the only spot in the entire National Park where you can take these kinds of tours. The most popular landing flight touches down at the bottom of the canyon for a unique champagne picnic. That’s plenty good right here for lots of folks. But for those who want a more complete canyon experience, there’s a package that includes a float trip down the Colorado and a landing on the top with VIP access to the Grand Canyon Skywalk – all in addition to landing on the bottom!
Landing at the top allows you to see several canyon highlights, including:
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Indian Cultural Center
Guano Point, Eagle Point, and more
If you’re seeking excitement and adventure, Grand Canyon West would be the right pick. And those into nature and incredible scenic beauty should head out to the South Rim.
The South Rim is perfect for folks setting out from cities in central AZ (Flagstaff, Phoenix, Sedona, or Scottsdale, for example) because it’s in northern Arizona close to the Utah border. I usually suggest renting a car and driving to GCO. It’s just outside the Park’s main gates and it’s where all the South Rim helicopter rides take off.
Tours on South Rim Grand Canyon helicopters are sorted by flight time. The shorter, 30-minute type flies from the South Rim to the North Rim and back. The longer, more comprehensive 50-minute version adds the Park’s eastern boundary. That’s where you will see sights like the fabulous Painted Desert, Zuni Corridor, the Desert Watchtower and the Colorado Confluence. I urge you to consider the longer tour if you can. Once you’re flying within the Park you’ll be glad.
I strongly recommend that you purchase your flight on the Web. Don’t purchase your flight from third-party brokers, resort concierges and kiosks you’ll see on Las Vegas’ main streets. You’ll end up paying a premium if you do. Here are three essential things to remember as you buy your trip on the Net:
1. Buy direct, right on the tour company’s website;
2. Reserve your seats at least a week before the tour date you want; and
3. Complete the entire purchase on the tour company’s site. That way you’ll get the special Internet discount.
By taking these three tips into consideration, you’ll wind up getting the best flight at the lowest price.