By Lea Fallon

The Grand Canyon National Park covers a vast area. The best way to appreciate its beauty is by taking an air tour. You can fly over the canyon in an airplane or helicopter and here are a few tips for planning a fantastic tour at an affordable price.

First, there are two places where flights originate: The West Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is near the cities of Flagstaff, Phoenix, Williams, and Sedona while the West Rim is closest to Las Vegas. So, to keep things clear and simple, you’ve got to pick your starting point and everything flows from there.

Tours To The West Rim

Las Vegas sits about 120 miles away from the West Rim. You can get there by chopper in around 45 minutes and by plane in about 30 minutes. There are two kinds of flights. They are air and landing. The landing tours come with lots of fun add-ons so they cost more.

The tours fly over Lake Mead and Hoover Dam en route to the National Park. You can choose a landing tour that drops you off on the canyon floor or one that drops you off on the rim. Airplanes only land on the top but can be extended to include a helicopter to the bottom. A lot of people enjoy the landing tour that goes to the bottom of the canyon for a Champagne brunch. If you are adventurous, you can choose the popular tour that lands on top of the rim so you can walk on the famous glass Skywalk.

Keep in mind, if you want to fly to the canyon floor, you have to fly out of Las Vegas and go to the West Rim. Flying below the rim is prohibited at the South Rim. Further, there are no flights that connect the rims. So if you want to see both rims, you’ll have to arrange your own transportation between the two or take two separate tours.

South Rim Air Tours

Tours work differently at the South Rim. Most of the tours are air-only and are available in a 30 or 50 minute version. Both tours fly over to the North Rim and the longer one also flies over to the eastern edge of the Park. Taking the longer tour is best if you can afford it because you can see so much more of the Park.

There is a landing tour you can take at the South Rim. In this instance, it’s a sunset jeep tour wherein you’ll first do a rim-to-rim helicopter ride before deplaning to a Jeep for sunset viewing on the Canyon’s edge. In my opinion this is one of the best air/ground packages and a whole lot of fun, too.

There is just one type of airplane tour over the South Rim. It’s a 50-minute flight and it mimics the same flight path as its helicopter sibling. The main difference is the price. The airplane is much cheaper. But there are trade-offs. The planes carry 19 passengers and fly at a higher altitude. Helicopters, by contrast, get you closer to the action and max out at six people.

Plan Your Tour

Hopefully, you understand more about taking a flight over the Grand Canyon. The main thing is understanding you will start your tour from Tusayan in Arizona or an airfield in Vegas. Next, decide if you want to land at the canyon and have a fun side adventure. And finally understand if a helicopter or airplane tour is most applicable to your particular situation.

Travel writer Lea Fallon is an expert on these Grand Canyon tours: http://www.grandcanyondaytrips.com/ For a list of the best flights, she recommends this page: http://www.grandcanyondaytrips.com/grand-canyon-flights-helicopter-airplane-tours

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By Lea Fallon The Grand Canyon National Park covers a vast area. The best way to appreciate its beauty is by taking an air tour. You can fly over the canyon in an airplane or helicopter and here are a few tips for planning a fantastic tour at an affordable...