As you have probably heard, since the government is closed, the gates are locked at America's National Parks. What should you do if you have a trip planned to the Grand Canyon? If you are planning on taking a tour, especially one that visits the canyon by air, you shouldn't have any problems.
The South Rim is definitely closed. That is where the main gates are, near the town of Tusayan. Fortunately, the West Rim is not actually located on Park land so it is still open and conducting operations as normal.
West Rim Tours
So if you will be in Vegas, you can take a tour to the West Rim with no problem. It is just over 100 miles away, which is about 2 hours by motor coach or automobile. Chopper flights take about 45 minutes and plane flights to the West Rim from Vegas take about a half an hour.
However, flights to the South Rim out of Vegas are grounded for the time being. There is no flight from the West Rim to the South Rim either. You can still see the South Rim by catching a flight out of a city in Arizona, otherwise, you will have to wait until the government shutdown is over if you want to depart from Vegas. So if you really want to take an aerial tour of the South Rim, you will have to look for a flight out of a city like Sedona, Flagstaff, or Phoenix.
Tours Of The South Rim
You can take two kinds of South Rim aerial tours. One choice is to get a seat on an airplane that takes you over the amazing scenery that lies between the South and North Rim over to the eastern border of the Park. The other choice is to take the same flight path in a helicopter instead of a plane. You can also take a shorter version of the helicopter tour that only lasts around a half an hour. You will see fantastic panoramic views and many unusual rock formations on these air tours. If you want the best view possible, choose the helicopter tour because the choppers fly lower and you are closer to the scenery. The chopper tours cost a lot more too.
Fun Things To Do
Tours that go to the West Rim give you the chance to participate in many fun activities. The West Rim is conducting operations as usual so all land and air tours are available to you. You can choose air-only or landing tours too. Landing tours are fantastic fun because you get a personal view of the canyon and you get to visit fun landmarks like the glass Grand Canyon Skywalk. That's not to say the air-only tours are not any fun, because with them you get to see all the amazing rock formations from an aerial perspective, plus you get to fly over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam.
One of the most popular Grand Canyon tours at the West Rim is one you should definitely check out. It is the chopper tour that lands on the canyon floor where you are treated to a fun champagne picnic. A fun airplane tour drops you off at the Grand Canyon West Airport and gives you three hours to explore the region by foot and find interesting things to do and see. If you are adventurous, you could walk out on the Skywalk, or you could ride a chopper to the bottom of the canyon and hop on a raft and tour the canyon by floating down the river.
It is nice to know you won't have to worry about the tours in the Grand Canyon being shut down. Don't even worry about the government shutdown. Don't let the shutdown ruin your trip. Before you go, understand how the tours are operating, especially if you want to go to the South Rim. Remember the main gates to the National Park are closed so if you want to see the South Rim region of the canyon, you have to do it by air. The tours going to the Grand Canyon are popular as always and the seats go fast. Get your seats early so you don't miss the chance to see this scenic wonderland. Go to the tour operator's website to buy your tickets because you will get an Internet discount that will save money on your tour.