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Budget-Friendly Rides On Grand Canyon National Park Helicopters
Home Travel & Leisure Travel Tips
By: Susan Bissonnette Email Article
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A lot of people wonder how to tour the Grand Canyon by helicopter at an affordable price. When price is an issue, choose one of the air-only chopper tours. Here are some things to consider when shopping for affordable Grand Canyon tours.

Aerial, or air-only tours do not land at the Grand Canyon. Landing tours, on the other hand, land on the canyon bottom or at the top of the rim. In addition, the West Rim is the only location where helicopters can actually land in the canyon, so if you want one of these tours, you have to depart from Vegas.

Aerial Tours

The aircraft used in these tours depart from airfields in the Vegas metro area and Tusayan, Arizona, which is near the main gates at the South Rim. If you depart from Tusayan, you will tour the South Rim, while all helicopters that leave from Vegas go to the West Rim.

As for South Rim air tours, you can pick a 30-minute or 50-minute version. The short one gives you a dramatic view of the Grand Canyon all the way to the North Rim and back. The long flight covers this area too but also goes to the eastern edge of the Park.

West Rim air tours begin at one of the metro-area airfields, including the executive airstrip at Henderson (south of Sin City) and Boulder City's municipal airport. These flights give you some amazing scenic vistas on your way to the West Rim and you pass over spectacular rock formations and landmarks like the Skywalk, Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead.

You'll need to get to Tusayan on your own for a South Rim tour, but the West Rim flights include complimentary Vegas Strip hotel shuttle service (coming and going). Taxes, Park fees and any extra surcharges are included in the price of almost all of these tours. And, because aerial helicopter tours don't include any side excursions or other extras, they're usually the cheapest.

Landing Tours

The air-only tours are an amazing experience. But a landing tour is even more fun. They give you a more in-depth experience. For example, one of the popular options is a chopper tour that takes you to the canyon floor where you can enjoy a fun champagne picnic. Since that tour is so popular, you better book your seats early. Other choices you have include a rafting trip down the Colorado River and passes to the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Booking

Buy your seats at least a week early, and even sooner than that if you will tour during a peak time like on a holiday or summer vacation. That way you'll be sure to get seats, plus you'll get a better deal.

You'll always find the best rates on the Web, so I always suggest booking there. Besides being cheaper, it's more convenient. It's not unusual to save as much as 30% off retail price, just by checking the "special deals" page. There might not be special deals available on the date you want, but you will still get the low Internet rate and save over retail price.

Quick Recap

If you want the most affordable Grand Canyon chopper tour, choose one of the air-only options. These tours offer you a fantastic bird's eye view of the canyon, but if you want a more personal experience, choose a landing tour. You'd pay more, but the extra money would be well spent. No matter what type of tour you decide to take, get your seats from the tour operator's website. That way you will get the lowest rate possible!

Travel journalist Susan B. is an authority on Grand Canyon National Park tours. She recommends checking out this website for South Rim tours and here for ones from Las Vegas: http://www.grandcanyonhelicopter.org/west-rim-coupons.html

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