There isn't a better way to see the Grand Canyon than from the cabin of a helicopter, but it's also true that the exact type of helicopter you fly in can make the experience even more special. When you're choosing a Grand Canyon helicopter tour, you'll choose between different helicopters, and even different flying packages, so you need to know what you're looking at when you decide on a booking.
The majority of the available tours run from either a Bell Ranger, an AStar, or an Ecostar 130. Out of all of the helicopters available, the Ecostar 130 is the one to pick. This modern helicopter is purpose built for commercial operation and has features like height staggered seats for better viewing, and a large cabin that's almost 25% roomier than the competition.
The best feature about the Ecostar however, is the 180 degree wraparound windshield. If you can picture the visor on a racing helmet, then this is the exact same concept with the Ecostar's main viewing windshield. This allows for the best views of the Grand Canyon from the air. The helicopter is also quiet enough on the inside to speak at normal volumes, and its advanced design makes it resistant to air turbulence, giving you a smooth and luxurious ride.
Las Vegas Departing Grand Canyon Tours
The deluxe tour operators are the ones that offer the Ecostar 130. You can take these tours from either Las Vegas, or the South Rim of the canyon. If you're departing from Vegas you'll receive a complementary limousine shuttle service with your flights, taking you to the airstrip and back in true Vegas style. If you want to see the South Rim, you'll have to take a short airplane flight to Arizona first.
Although deluxe flights cost more, they offer superior value when compared to the cheaper options. A standard air tour from Vegas using the Bell or AStar helicopter will have you in less comfortable seating, and sometimes you may be placed in a rear facing jump seat. You'll still see some fantastic views of the canyon, although they won't be as unobstructed as they are from the cabin of the Ecostar.
On a deluxe trip you can also opt for a landing tour. Landing tours can take you to the top or bottom of the Canyon, but the bottom is by far the better experience. You'll be provided with a champagne picnic alongside the Colorado River, so if you've been trying to find a romantic Grand Canyon helicopter tour then this is exactly what you're looking for.
If you land at the top of the Canyon, you'll still get to step out on to the impressive Skywalk, suspending you above the canyon on a layer of reinforced glass and steel.
Taking a Tour from the South Rim
There are no landing tours at the South Rim, but the duration of the flights help to make up for this. There's a 30 or 50 minute package available. Even with the extra cost I recommend the 50 minute package. You will get to see almost 75% of the National Park on this flight, meaning that you will cover the better part of over one million acres!
Since we're in the warmer months now you'll need to dress for the weather when heading out on a Grand Canyon helicopter tour. If you're landing, make sure you've got sunblock and light clothing, as well as a hat and some sunglasses. On the hottest days it can reach up to 100 degrees in the Grand Canyon National Park.
If there's room in your budget to book a deluxe helicopter then trust me, it's well worth it. Having tried most of the tours available at the canyon I can say with certainty that the Ecostar 130 provides the most unobstructed views and comfortable ride. The canyon is an experience you won't forget, and you'll never get a better view than you can from an air tour. Get ready, because a Grand Canyon helicopter flight is literally the ride of a lifetime.