It was a rough winter this year, but now summer is here and it is time to have fun. If you're planning a summertime tour of the Grand Canyon, a helicopter flight is one of the best ways to go. Just be sure to book your tour early, because the chopper tours are so popular, they fill up fast.
These tours visit the South Rim or the West Rim, but not both rims on the same trip, therefore, you need to decide which rim you want to fly over. It is pretty easy to decide.
The West Rim is only a 45-minute chopper flight (120 miles) from Las Vegas, so Vegas-based travelers will head that in that direction (the South Rim is beyond the range of Las Vegas helicopters). If you'll be coming to the Grand Canyon from somewhere in Arizona, you'll do the South Rim.
West Rim Helicopter Tours
It's turning out that this year's most popular Grand Canyon flights are leaving from the Las Vegas Strip. There are two types of West Rim helicopter tours: air-only and landing. Both versions are wonderfully scenic and provide you with a bird's eye view of the Colorado River, Lake Mead, Grand Cliffs Wash, Hoover Dam, and the rock formations in the canyon.
After arriving at the West Rim, air-only tours circle the canyon and then turn back home. Before you land, you get an amazing aerial view of the bustling Las Vegas Strip from the air. Landing tours touch down at the top or the base of the Canyon. By the way, I'd be remiss if I didn't let you know that all flights that land at the base begin at Vegas and go to the West Rim (flying below the Rim and landing on the bottom isn't allowed at the South Rim).
When you land on the canyon floor, you are treated to a fun Champagne picnic. A lot of folks add the optional smooth water float trip down the Colorado. You will see many amazing rock formations and be in awe of the massive canyon walls towering above you.
Different chopper tours include VIP access to the glass Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is a thrilling encounter you don't want to miss. This marvel of engineering permits you to stand 4000 feet above the canyon floor on a glass floor while you are 70 feet beyond the edge of the rim. It is simply breathtaking, and an experience you won't find elsewhere.
South Rim Tours
South Rim Grand Canyon flights last either 30 or 50 minutes. The 30-minute tour takes you from the South Rim to the North Rim and back. The longer tour gives you even more fantastic views because it goes all the way to the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon National Park in addition to flying to the North Rim. By the time the tour's finished you'll have seen up to 3/4 of the entire National Park!
A fun upgrade to consider for your South Rim helicopter tour is a Jeep ride along the top of the rim. The Jeep stops to let you see some amazing scenery along the way. It's a terrific way to get the full Canyon experience!
Summertime tours on Grand Canyon helicopters always give their passengers a terrific time. A morning tour is best if you can book one, that way you can beat the worst heat of the day. For folks staying in Vegas, I recommend one of the Canyon flights that take off from the Strip - the included shuttle is actually a limo, and you'll fly over the Strip on the way back. If you decide to go to the South Rim, consider taking the 50-minute helicopter tour so you get more time to enjoy the fantastic aerial views of the canyon and wilderness area below you.