The Real Canyon
Known as the "real" Grand Canyon, the South Rim is just west of Flagstaff, in central AZ. That makes it the perfect place to visit if you're in Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff or Scottsdale. However, if you're staying in Vegas instead, you can take a bus or plane to the South Rim for your tour. Going by airplane is best since the flight takes about an hour and if you go by bus, you're looking at a 5 1/2 hour ride each way.
You can take a 50-minute or 30-minute helicopter tour of the South Rim. The longer tour lets you see so much more, in fact, you'll get to see the North and South Rims as well as the eastern edge of the National Park. The shorter tour is very scenic too and you get to see both the North and South Rims. It's a terrific way to get the flavor of the National Park.
There's a new tour I've heard about that sounds pretty exciting. It upgrades the 30 minute flight with a 4x4 tour at sunset. This tour ends when your 4x4 drives you to scenic Hopi Point at dusk. Along the way you'll get to see one of the National Park's hidden, elevated fire towers.
Helicopter Tours From Vegas
Las Vegas is the departure point for all West Rim helicopter rides. The West Rim is just a little east of Vegas, but the South Rim is outside the range of helicopters flying out of Sin City. There aren't any direct flights between the West and South Rims.
Grand Canyon helicopters come in two flavors: air-only and landing flights. They all fly over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam on their way to the Park.
If it fits in with your time allotment and budget, you should really consider taking a landing tours. Landing tours are a terrific way to experience the National Park in all its glory. Float trips down the Colorado River and VIP passes to the Skywalk are popular add-ons, but the most popular option of all is the chopper flight to the Canyon floor followed by a champagne picnic. The air-only version is a terrific choice for people who are short on time or have a limited budget.
These helicopter tours are very popular and they fill up fast, so you need to book early to secure your seats. It's best to get your tour locked in at least four days or more in advance so a tour will be available on the day and time you want to fly.
Remember, you'll need to dress for the winter weather. South Rim visitors during winter season should plan for the possibility of snow-wear a warm jacket, long pants, a hat, gloves, and sturdy shoes. The West Rim is warmer, but since it may still be chilly, dressing in layers you can shed or add is a good idea. Sun protection is necessary at both rims, so bring sunglasses, lip balm, and extra water too.
Whether you're spending the winter season in Vegas or central AZ, you owe it to yourself to consider a Grand Canyon helicopter ride. It's a terrific way to celebrate the season!
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