The Grand Canyon isn't just the second-most visited American National Park, with over a million acres of wilderness, it's also one of the largest. Touring it by helicopter is a great way to appreciate its immensity.
Kinds Of Air Tours
You can choose different helicopter tours of the South Rim based upon flight time. The shorter flight lasts about thirty minutes while the longer flight lasts around sixty minutes. You can take either one of these tours on a deluxe EcoStar 130 helicopter. I think the price difference is money well spent. These choppers are made for sightseeing with huge wraparound windshields, comfortable climate control, and roomy cabins with stadium seating.
The scenery on these tours is breathtaking, even if you take the short flight. The helicopter tours originate from the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, which is situated by the main entrance to the National Park. Your flight will take you on a dramatic ride over the Dragoon Corridor, which happens to be the widest and deepest portion of the canyon, as well as the Kaibab National Forest. The helicopters fly from the South Rim to the North Rim and back again.
The longer (50-minute) tours on South Rim helicopters do all that too, but they're more comprehensive and also include points of interest like Zuni Corridor, the Desert Watchtower, the East Rim, the Painted Desert and Imperial Point (the highest spot in the National Park).
The longer tour might cost more, but you will get to experience more of the natural landmarks in the Park. The Grand Canyon is such a magnificent place that you won't want to shortchange yourself by going on the cheap if you can swing one of the longer flights.
Helicopters are not allowed to land on the canyon floor at the South Rim. If you want that particular experience, you'll need to take a West Rim landing tour. If you want to take a West Rim helicopter tour, then you need to start your tour in Vegas. That's because you can't fly from the South Rim to the West Rim.
You can, however, take a great new landing tour at the South Rim. The tour includes an exciting Jeep ride that allows you to see many unusual sights up close. If you are lucky, you will get to see the sun set at Hopi Point. Because of the big finish at sunset, this particular flight only begins in late afternoons and tickets are extremely limited. There is a reason this tour is so popular, the views at sunset are fantastic!
Booking Your Tour
You should definitely try to book your seats as early as one week in advance. There are a few reasons why I think this is the best strategy:
1. You have a better chance of getting the tour you really want
2. You'll get the date and takeoff time you want
3. You'll get a cheaper price
Each of these is a great reason to book your seats early. During the busy summer season at the Grand Canyon, you should try to get your seats even earlier than one week ahead. It's possible you could cut it shorter and still get the flight you want, but at best that's a long shot. And same-day bookings just won't work unless you're traveling by yourself.
Price can be an issue, but I have a few helpful suggestions. Most importantly, you should get your seats online. But do it directly on the tour company's website. Tickets bought from Viator, Expedia, or Travelocity will cost you more. The tour companies? own websites always post the lowest prices, and you don't have to look hard at all. Most of them put their best discounts and promotional deals right on the home page of their website, so they're really easy to find!