Grand Canyon From the Air

What’s the best way to see the Grand Canyon if you have just a day or two to do it? Take an air tour. By getting airborne in a helicopter or plane, you give yourself the best chance to see as much of the Park as possible.

The Rims

Air tours are available only at the West Rim and the South Rim. If you are coming from Vegas, the West Rim is your most likely destination. If you want to visit the South Rim, you must take a 45-minute airplane flight. For people traveling from Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona, I recommend you self-drive to the South Rim to start your air tour.

By Helicopter

The West Rim is the only place where you can ride a helicopter to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. These tours depart from Vegas. Bottom-landings can be extended to include a river rafting trip. There’s also an option to include tickets to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass bridge that lets you walk 70 feet past the edge of the rim.

South Rim helicopter tours leave from Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan. There’s only one type of flight. It goes over the Kaibab Plateau and into the Dragoon Corridor before turning back at the North Rim. Flights average 30 minutes. There’s an option to increase airtime up to 50 minutes.

By Airplane

West Rim airplane tours depart from Las Vegas. Flight time to the rim is 20 minutes. Tours include air-only and landing tours, which can be upgraded to include rafting trips, Skywalk tickets, and helicopter rides.

South Rim airplane trips leave from Tusayan, which is 10 minutes from the National Park. Flights average an hour and go over the South Rim, East Rim, and North Rim. The most popular upgrade is the 1 day Grand Canyon rafting tour, which starts at Glen Canyon Dam finishes 15 miles downstream at historic Lee’s Ferry.

There’s also a Las Vegas to South Rim airplane tour. The flight takes less than an hour and follows the Colorado River. By the time you land you will have seen 50 percent of the canyon from air. A popular upgrade is the helicopter tour. For more details please visit these sites:-

Meet the Aircraft

Helicopter tours are conducted aboard AStars or EcoStar 130s. In most cases, the EcoStar is an upgrade. This chopper has 25 percent more cabin space. It’s outfitted with theater-style seats (everyone faces forward) and comes with plenty of legroom. I also like the 180-degree wraparound windshield and the Fenestron tail rotor, which delivers one of the smoothest rides in the sky.

Many people are under the impression that seeing the Grand Canyon from the air by airplane is done aboard a small aircraft. Not true. These tours are conducted aboard a Vistaliner. It can can accommodate up to 19 passengers and features over-sized windows, big seats, and winds fixed to the top of the aircraft so you get great views. The aircraft is also equipped with the latest navigational equipment and is manned by two FAA-certified pilots.

How to Get A Great Deal

Don’t pay full retail price. Shop the Internet. The best deals are consistently posted on the Web. I regularly see special online promotions that slash prices on air tours by up to 35 percent. The other thing you can do is book in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute or you will end up paying a premium.

Time to fly!

are a life-changing experience. The aerial views are phenomenal. But if you want to take it to another level, add a side trip like bottom-landing, river rafting, Skywalk tickets, and more. The Grand Canyon invites exploration. And there’s not better way to do it than by taking a West Rim or South Rim air tour.


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