Las Vegas is the most popular spot to start a Grand Canyon helicopter tour from. Being close to the West Rim, you can be out to the Canyon in less than an hour, and there are numerous tour packages that you can choose from. Because it can sometimes be hard to choose the right package, I've put together this quick list of my three favorite tours, so that you can make an informed decision for you next vacation or weekend getaway.
No Direct Helicopters to the South Rim
We should get this out of the way first, just in case you were hoping to fly in a helicopter to Arizona's South Rim: there are currently no tour operators offering such a flight. However, you can take a one hour plane journey to Arizona, from where you can either do some airplane sightseeing, or even transfer to a helicopter for a tour of the South Rim and North Rim.
One other thing to keep in mind, is that only West Rim tours can land inside the Grand Canyon. This is one of the major advantages of taking a helicopter tour from Las Vegas. At the South Rim, landing flights are banned so you'll need to take a hike or a Jeep ride if you want to see the Canyon from the ground.
With that in mind, let's get right on to my top three picks…
Tour #1 Champagne Picnic
This one is my personal favorite, and is one of the most popular tours available at the Grand Canyon. You will fly out to the West Rim, passing over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead on the way. When you reach the rim, your helicopter will make a 4000ft descent to the bottom of the Canyon, where you will be able to enjoy a Champagne Picnic to celebrate the occasion. This tour sets you down right next to the Colorado River, and it's a special feeling to be right at the bottom of the majestic canyon.
Tour #2 Helicopter Tour with Extended River Float
This is a special tour that includes two different adventures. The first part of your tour will be a flyover with a bottom landing experience. After you've explored the bottom of the Canyon, you will head back up and then transfer to a pontoon river raft tour. This starts from the Hoover Dam, and is a 13 mile float. It offers a unique perspective of the area, so if you have some extra time to tour, then this could be the best option for you.
Tour #3 Top and Bottom Landing
Landing tours don't just go to the bottom, but can also go to the top of the rim. There's one mega tour which includes not only the Champagne Picnic segment, but also a top landing tour. There's plenty to do at the top, such as checking out the walking trails, grabbing some refreshments, or stepping out onto the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The Skywalk is something that has to be seen to be truly appreciated. Made from glass and steel, it will allow you to step out above 4000ft of air, while being 70ft over the edge of the West Rim. If you ever land at the top, then make sure you take the opportunity to check out the Skywalk!
Deluxe Tours for the Best Experience
There are basic and deluxe tours available from Vegas, although I only recommend basic if you are on a strict budget with no room for movement. If you can stretch to a deluxe tour, then go for it. The difference is that you will be in a newer EcoStar 130 helicopter, featuring a large cabin (25% larger than the basic Bell Ranger), and comfortable stadium style seats. The 130 is a smoother ride, and is quieter inside when compared to other helicopters. Best of all, it has a panoramic viewing window that wraps around the helicopter for 180 degrees of unobstructed sightseeing. Deluxe tours provide a limousine shuttle service, and depart directly form the Las Vegas Strip.
Also remember that the Canyon gets hot, so aim for a morning or afternoon flight, and wear light clothing that covers your skin. Don't forget to use sunblock and stay hydrated during your adventure.
Tickets routinely sell out, so make sure you book at least two weeks prior to your trip to Vegas. Book online with a credit card and you will lock in your seats, and also get the best prices. The later you leave your booking, the more it will cost, so booking early will benefit you with cheaper tickets. Go for the most comprehensive package that you can afford, and prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure at America's greatest natural land formation.