The Grand Canyon is a popular tourist destination for good reason. It's size is massive, at one mile in depth and 277 miles long. In some spots the chasm separating the North Rim and South Rim is as much as 18 miles in width. The park encompasses over one million acres of beautiful, diverse wilderness areas.
The South Rim sits close to where Utah and Northern Arizona meet. It's a beautiful area. There is a tiny town situated close to the main gates of the park there. That's where you'll find Grand Canyon Airport (the departure point for all South Rim helicopter tours) and an IMAX Theater. The closest larger cities are Williams and Flagstaff in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon has millions of visitors every year, as people come from all over the globe and major tourist cities such as Sedona, Vegas, and Phoenix. People coming to the South Rim from Las Vegas arrive by bus or plane (the South Rim is out of range for a Vegas 'copter, so a plane is my personal suggestion). Most visitors starting out in central AZ come by car.
A federal restriction prohibits all South Rim helicopters from flying below the rim and landing on the canyon floor. That restriction doesn't apply at the West Rim, which is located closer to Vegas. There aren't any flights between the West Rim and the South Rim.
South Rim helicopter tours depart daily. Prices on these tours vary depending on whether the tour is deluxe or not, as well as how long the tour lasts. Some South Rim helicopters give you almost an hour of flight time, while with others it's about half an hour.
The half-hour helicopter rides fly over to the North Rim and circle back, passing through the dramatic Dragoon Corridor, which is the deepest part of the canyon. It also offers a stunning view of the Kaibab National Forest. Choosing a helicopter tour of the South Rim is the best way to see as much of this vast wilderness as possible.
50-Minute Air Tours
The longer, 50-minute flights provide even more amazing views. These flights include all the landmarks from the shorter flights as well as others such as the Desert Watchtower, Zuni Corridor, remote areas of the North Rim, and the Colorado River confluence.
The helicopters used on these tours can only take six people at a time plus the pilot. Because of that, not many flights take off with empty seats. The seats are assigned right before the flight lifts off based on the weight of all the passengers. It is an important safety feature to have the weight spread out as evenly as possible in the cabin.
Tours on Grand Canyon helicopters fill up quickly, and sell out in advance, so it is a good idea to book a tour at least a week in advance. It's just too risky to try to buy your tickets on the day of the tour-it will probably be sold out or only one seat will be open.
Tour company websites have the best prices, so I strongly suggest booking your 'copter tour there. The can offer low Internet rates that websites like Expedia, Priceline, and Orbitz can't match. Just skip those and go to the tour operator's site first. To get the lowest price, you need to pay for your tour online using the web form on the company's site. Doing that allows you to save money on your Grand Canyon adventure!