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Grand Canyon Travel: Heli Rides For Winter National Park Visitors

By Kate Reingold

It's wintertime at Grand Canyon National Park. That means daytime temperatures that hover in the low 40's with either crystal-clear skies or intermittent snow. Amid all this fly helicopters, which offer travelers some of the most amazing views of the National Park to be had.

Departure Points

There are two locations for taking a helicopter tour, and one of them is in Vegas, while the other is in Arizona. Helicopters that depart from Vegas fly to the West Rim and the choppers that depart from Tusayan fly to the South Rim of the Canyon. Just so you know, there are no flights between the two rims. Vegas travelers who want the South Rim are advised to take fly by airplane and then transfer to a helicopter.

Another thing to know is that the temperatures are colder at the South Rim. That's because the South Rim sits at an elevation of 6700 feet. The West Rim, on the other hand, has an elevation of only 4700 feet. Thus, from December to March, the South Rim's temps will range from 40 to 50 degrees during the day and 18 to 25 degrees at night. The West Rim has warmer daytime temperatures that reach into the 60s and 70s, but the nights are a little chilly with 40 degree temps.

During winter, there's a strong chance there will be snow on the ground. It's very rare that helicopter flights will be grounded due to snowfall as snowstorms move in and out of the National Park with rapidity. The West Rim is usually snow-free, but once in a blue moon it will get lightly dusted.

Tour Refunds

However, if you're flight does get cancelled due to weather, the best helicopter tour companies offer a 100 percent refund. I can't vouch for tour consolidators as in many cases you will be booking a flight that is stripped of a refund policy because it's in the hands of a liquidators trying to fill seats as they become available. Because of this, I advise always buying direct from the tour operator and avoiding booking from companies like HotWire, Priceline and Expedia.

What to wear during this season deserves consideration. Dressing in layers is the best way to go. Specifically, find a good base layer. This might be a t-shirt or a polyester shirt that wicks moisture and keeps you warm. You probably have tops like that already and won't need to buy anything new. Over that, I'd wear a sweater and then a Parka-like jacket. A pair of gloves, a scarf, long pants, wool socks and a pair of sturdy shoes are also suggested.

If you plan to land at the Canyon, you definitely want to dress for the weather. The only place you can take a landing tour is from Vegas to the West Rim, since the helicopters at the South Rim can't land at the Canyon. When you take a landing tour, you can add on tickets to the Skywalk, enjoy a Champagne picnic, or take a boat ride on the Colorado River. Landing tours are very popular, so you want to book your seats in advance.

Book Soon

How far in advance should you make your reservations? At least a week, especially during winter as helicopter tour operators limit the number of flights, which is compounded by the fact that helicopters can only hold six passengers to begin with. Further, and I mentioned this earlier in the article, book your flight direct from the operator on the Internet. The best deals are clearly on the Web, but, in order to make sure you get them, you must fully complete your transaction online (lots of people fail to do this and end up getting billed the retail rate!).

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Ditulis oleh: Faisal Reza Siregar - Thursday, January 14, 2016

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