|By: Susan Bissonnette|
|Word Count: 679|
Nothing beats touring the Grand Canyon in an air conditioned helicopter when temperatures on the ground soar above 100 degrees in the summer. Plus, you'll get to experience the canyon in a unique and fun way.
Grand Canyon tours on Las Vegas helicopters take off daily, starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 6 in the evening. I always recommend morning flights (you'll beat the heat), but I suggest staying away from the "early bird" departures-either the sun will be in your face or you won't get any sun at all if your flight lands on the canyon bottom.
It is also a good idea to take a tour that uses the EcoStar 130 helicopter. These helicopters were built for sightseeing with huge windows, stadium-style seats, roomy cabins, and cool air conditioning.
West Rim Chopper Tours
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is 277 miles away so it is too far for a helicopter to make it from Vegas, therefore you will go to the West Rim instead, which is 120 miles away. You can get there in less than an hour by helicopter.
The West Rim is the only section of the canyon where choppers are permitted to land on the bottom (for safety and noise pollution reasons, FAA regulations and the National Park Service ban landings on the bottom at the South Rim). This gives people some great options while they're at the West Rim. For instance, you can take a chopper ride to the floor of the canyon and enjoy a picnic by the scenic Colorado River! And this same tour can be enhanced by adding a float trip down the Colorado.
A different landing tour gives you VIP access to the amazing Skywalk. You can walk out 70 feet on this glass bridge that sits 4000 feet above the bottom of the canyon. It's a must-do while you're at the canyon.
Other Las Vegas helicopters are air-only flights, and they're terrific too. The scenic chopper tours that take off from the Vegas area follow a flight plan that goes over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, an extinct volcano called Fortification Hill, Grand Wash Cliffs, the Skywalk, and Grand Canyon West. The air-only tours are more affordable and they are a great way to see the Grand Canyon when you don't have a lot of time for a tour.
Tour companies let passengers reserve the front seats, but I think doing this before check-in time is pretty useless. You might think it would be a good idea to reserve the front seat while you're booking your flight, but seating is assigned in a way that distributes the weight of passengers equally throughout the cabin. So the seat you have for your tour is left to chance.
Things To Bring
Dress for the heat in shorts, a lightweight shirt, and sunglasses. If you land in the canyon and spend time in the sun, you should wear a hat and a cotton shirt with long sleeves. Also, bring extra sunblock, water, and salty snacks.
Even though it is quite hot in the Grand Canyon National Park and Vegas during the summer months, you can still have a fantastic time by taking a helicopter tour in climate-controlled comfort. Tour helicopters have strong air conditioning and comfortable seating- especially EcoStar 130s. Helicopter tours usually sell out because they are so popular, you want to book your seats early. Pay for your tour online on the tour company's website. If you do that, you get the low Internet rate. It's a great way to save a lot of money on a fantastic tour!
|Travel reviewer Susan B. is an authority on Grand Canyon helicopters. She suggests