No matter what time of year you visit the Grand Canyon, the scenery is spectacular. However, winter is especially dramatic because the visibility is so much better due to the climate conditions.
The best way to fully appreciate the Park during the height of its beauty is from the air. You can choose to tour by plane or chopper and depart from Vegas or Tusayan in Arizona.
You may be wondering which option is best when it comes to aerial tours of the Grand Canyon. For one thing, the tours by helicopter cost more. That’s because each chopper only holds six passengers and the tours are more private.
Heli v.s. Plane
Next, helicopters fly at a lower altitude than airplanes. This is more important at the West Rim (more on rims in a minute) where helis can fly below the edge and land at the bottom. Since they can’t do that at the South Rim, the choice between plane and chopper there is not so critical.
Then there’s the issue of availability. Keep in mind, the helicopters only have room for six. Planes on the other hand can hold 19 people. For that reason, the chopper tours tend to fill up much quicker. Relatedly, if you are part of a large group, you might want to consider taking the plane because most or all of your party will fly together.
The window seats offer fantastic views and they are available in both types of aircraft. It will cost you more though. Further, window seats are not guaranteed and are only given at time of check-in to those passengers who requested them during the online booking process. However, most people don’t even know you can request a window seat, you it doesn’t hurt to go ahead and ask for one.
The weight of all the passengers has to be evenly distributed in a helicopter and that is why there is no guarantee you will get a window seat until everyone checks in on the day of the tour. That’s not the case with airplane tours, and it is usually easier to get a window seat on one of those. Right now, window seats on helicopter tours cost $50 extra and those on airplane tours cost $10 extra.
The aerial tours go to both rims of the canyon. The Grand Canyon has two destination points for tours, one is the South Rim and the other is the West Rim. Vegas is situated near the West Rim. You can get there by plane in a half an hour and by chopper in 45 minutes. You can’t actually take a chopper from Vegas to the South Rim because it is too far away. Instead, you can go by airplane and get there in about an hour. The airplane tours at the South Rim originate at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport and tour the southern section of the park.
The tours out of Las Vegas are available as air-only tours and landing tours. The air-only tours cost less. The landing tours are worth the money though because they let you experience the canyon up close while you have some fantastic adventures. One tour that I’m fond of is the West Rim airplane flight with optional Grand Canyon Skywalk. As for the South Rim, there’s only the aerial and for the money it’s excellent.
Winter is simply a wonderful time to schedule an air tour of the Grand Canyon. There are several types of tours to choose from and you can depart from Las Vegas or Tusayan, Arizona. It is worth a special trip just to go to the canyon, but if you will be in Arizona or Vegas on vacation anyway, don’t miss the chance to take an air tour. You will see many beautiful sights and make memories to last forever.