The Grand Canyon is best appreciated when you see it from the air. When you take a chopper tour, you get to see an amazing variety of scenic views and unique formations. Here are a few things you should know about Grand Canyon helicopters.
The Air Tours
First, decide where you will begin your tour. All decisions spring from this. The most popular places are Las Vegas, NV, and Tusayan, AZ, which is also known as the South Rim. If you will be in Sedona or Phoenix, the best option is to drive to Tusayan and start your air tour from the airport there.
The South Rim airport, by the way, is located just outside the main gates of the National Park on Highway 64. It's well marked and you will not miss it since it's just on the outskirts of Tusayan. In Las Vegas, you'll fly from either McCarran airport or the municipal complexes at Boulder City or Henderson.
McCarran is close to the Strip, so it usually costs more to fly out of there than it does other airfields in the metro area. It is usually worth it to travel the extra twenty minutes so you can save some money. You can't knock convenience though, so if you want to pay more, then choose the closest airport. You may run into logistical problems with tours that depart from North Las Vegas, so be sure to ask the tour operator about that before you book one of those helicopter tours.
It is always a good idea to book air tours well in advance. Some people think they can wait until the last minute and hop on a tour. Just not true. Sure, you can try, and you might even get something, but in reality it will probably not be your first choice. Also, if you do get a seat, you will probably have to pay more for it. Lastly, and this applies to groups of 3 or more people, you might find your party split between helicopters.
The reason for a "split" is that helicopters can only hold 6 people plus the pilot. So, when you travel in a group, you may have to split up if there are not enough seats available on the same chopper. If this is OK for you, then go for it because multiple helicopters leave at once so at least you'll be in the sky together or at the bottom for a Champagne brunch.
If you don't want to split your group, then you should take an airplane tour instead. I recommend these because usually there are seats available. Also, tour companies are usually willing to bring in additional planes to handle last-minute bookings. So while plane tours are different than chopper tours, they are less expensive and they allow your group to stay together too.
Also, if you want to fly to the South Rim from Vegas, you need to do it by plane. The helicopters that depart from Las Vegas fly only to the West Rim. This is because the South Rim is too far for them to fly. I personally don't mind the trade off, especially considering that the West Rim is the only place in the entire National Park where you can land on the bottom.
Which brings me to my final planning tip: Air or landing? They are both a lot of fun. Air is just that ? you fly over the Grand Canyon. And landing, well, first, the majority originate from Las Vegas and go to the bottom (as mentioned earlier) or top. At South Rim, the majority are air-only except for a sunset flight that comes with a Jeep tour.
Hopefully these tips will help you plan a fantastic air tour of the beautiful Grand Canyon. Just book your seats early, so you get a good choice of tours at the best price.