The majority of Grand Canyon tours let you sample the National Park. If you are the type of person who wants to see as much of the South Rim as possible in a day, you’ve got buckle up and get airborne. To get you off the ground, here are seven reasons why riding a helicopter gets the job done.
1. It’s the fastest way to see the National Park. All helicopter flight plans follow this route: South Rim, the Gorge, North Rim, and back to Grand Canyon Airport. During this 30-to-40 minute flight, you’ll see:
-The Kaibab Plateau
-The Colorado River & Little Colorado River
-The Dragoon Corridor
-Grand Canyon Village
-Bright Angel Trail
-The San Francisco Peaks (Humphrey’s Peak is the highest in Arizona)
This is only a smidgen of what you fly over.
2. It’s the best way to enjoy a South Rim sunrise and/or sunset. This is the most incredible thing you can see at the Park. I strongly suggest you reserve your seats in advance, especially during summer when seats sell out fast. Because of their popularity, these flights are labeled “premium” and cost more than others.
3. It’s safe. Of the three helicopter companies that fly the South Rim, there’s never been an accident. Further, a lot of companies are flying the robust EcoStar 130, a state-of-the-art chopper that’s been designed from nose to tail for sightseeing.
4. It’s inexpensive. Trips start out around $ 130 per person. Upgrading to an EcoStar 130 (luxury sightseeing helicopter) will run you around $ 160. Book online to get the lowest price. Prices and availability are subject to change.
5. The aerial views here are some of the best in the U.S. Sitting at about 7,000 feet in elevation, the rim is pancake-flat and covered with pine forest. To get clear views, you have to get to the rim’s edge. Flying, its all sky above and Canyon below.
6. Pilots make the best guides. These guys fly the Canyon daily and know it like the back of their hands. Helicopters come with two-way communication systems and personal headsets that allow you to talk to your pilot and fellow passengers.
7. It’s thrilling. Helicopters take off from Grand Canyon Airport at 200 miles per hour then head through the Dragoon Corridor until turning back at the North Rim. Highly maneuverable, these aircraft descend, ascend, and turn with ease. Nothing comes close to the thrill of hovering in the Dragoon Corridor, the widest, deepest part of the canyon.
Helicopter tours average more than 30 minutes in the air and depart frequently from the airport in Tusayan, located just outside the Park’s main entrance. No helicopters fly from the South Rim to the West Rim. Nor are their direct helicopter flights from Las Vegas to the South Rim. To get here from Vegas, you must book an airplane or bus tour and transfer to a helicopter.
The Grand Canyon is an overwhelming experience. It’s 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and covers up 1,900 plus square miles. My suggestion is to view the Park by Grand Canyon helicopter and then than explore it by foot, possibly going beneath the rim on one of the easy access trails. This combination of air and ground will make sure that you see as much of the Canyon as you can in a limited amount of time.
Check out travel writer Keith Kravitz’ Grand Canyon helicopter tour reviews before you purchase a canyon helicopter tour.