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Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours in All Price Ranges

One of the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon is by taking a helicopter tour. However, not all flights are created equal, especially when it comes to the time of day in which to fly. Read on and I’ll reveal how to determine the best departure times so you get the most awesome trip possible.

Grand Canyon tour helicopters leave from Las Vegas and from the Grand Canyon Airport, which is about ten miles from the South Rim, in Tusayan, Arizona. You won’t find direct flights from Vegas to the South Rim. To do that, you’ll need to first take an airplane or a bus and then transfer to a helicopter.

Which Rim is for you? If you are looking for adventure, go to the West Rim. Specifically, I’m referring to landing tours that let you add either a helicopter ride to the bottom, a boat cruise on the Colorado River or a stroll on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass bridge that lets you walk 70 feet past the edge.

As for the South Rim, it’s the destination that many call the “official” Grand Canyon. It’s located some 270 miles from Las Vegas and is popular with travelers based in Central Arizona. Helicopters are not allowed to go below the Rim or land at the bottom. However, you will still be able to experience the canyon by flying through the Dragoon Corridor, which is the widest and deepest part of the National Park.

West Rim weather is scorching hot during the summer, with temperatures breaking 100 degrees nearly every day. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of water and don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and wide brimmed hat. Long sleeve shirts are recommended as well, and sturdy footwear is necessary since the terrain is rocky. Winters are cooler and relatively mild. During this time, I suggest wearing a beanie, gloves and a medium-weight jacket.

Conditions are different along the South Rim where the summers are cooler. That’s because the elevation is over six thousand feet. You should still bring along sunscreen and plenty of drinking water. South Rim winters are much more extreme. It’s colder here, and the chance of snow is greater. If you want to avoid crowds, the cold months are a good time to visit the South Rim.

Seasons, weather and Rim play a big part in determining when to fly. Early morning flights are popular in the summer. That would include any trips that depart before lunchtime. If you are planning to take a landing tour of the West Rim, then you definitely want to get started early so you can beat the oppressive heat that builds by late afternoon. The same thinking applies to flying from July through September when the Monsoon sweeps into Arizona. That means lots of thunderstorms. They pop up almost every afternoon like clockwork. If you book your Grand Canyon helicopter tour during that time period, chances are good it will get delayed until the storm passes, or it could get cancelled altogether.

In addition, there are two key things to know about morning flights. First, the air is smoother, especially during summer when minor turbulence pick up in the afternoons. Secondly, visibility is better. The summer months are known for being hazy. Forest fires, dust and pollution cause this. The plus side of the debris in the air is that it makes for spectacular sunsets, so that could be another good time of day to fly.

Still, don’t get too upset if morning tours are sold out. Taking a helicopter excursion might be a little bit better during the morning hours, but even if you go later, you will have an unforgettable experience. Just get yourself airborne over the canyon and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

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