The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is only 120 miles from Las Vegas, but it’s a six-hour from Sin City to the South Rim. That’s why most Vegas-based travelers wind up going to the West Rim. That statistic doesn’t need to include you, unless you just happen to prefer Grand Canyon West. People staying in Vegas can arrive at the South Rim in under an hour by taking a short, direct plane flight.
Las Vegas air tours fly out of several airfields in the Vegas metro area, including Boulder City and Henderson, NV. Flights are scheduled throughout the day – the last one takes off at mid-afternoon and treats you to spectacular views of the sunset as you fly back to Vegas.
The flight takes a very scenic route, with flyovers of Lake Mead and Hoover Dam. Most Vegas-based South Rim airplane tours fly south of the Colorado River and then bear east until landing at Grand Canyon National Park Airport. You’ll see as much as ¾ of the canyon before you land.
The most popular South Rim airplane tour includes a 2 ½-hour motor coach tour in the National Park. Grand Canyon Village (the location of several museums, gift shops, hotels and restaurants), Mather Point and Yaki Point are among the highlights of the bus tour.
Another, more upscale version includes a 30-minute chopper flight from the South Rim to the North Rim and back. This dramatic flight passes over the widest, deepest section of the entire canyon (called Dragoon Corridor) and includes flyovers of Kaibab National Forest and Grand Canyon Village. You’ll get a great perspective on the National Park during the flight.
South Rim airplane tours typically use aircraft that seat 19. Naturally, they’re customized for terrific sightseeing. Their roomy cabins are fitted with comfortable seating and large windows that allow great views. Personal headsets let you listen to taped information about the sights passing beneath your aircraft’s wings.
Las Vegas air tours use safety-certified airplanes – they’re required to meet all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations applicable to cargo planes. Plus, they’re all fitted with state-of-the-art communications equipment and navigational instrumentation. Each plane has an FAA-licensed pilot and co-pilot, and both must pass rigorous yearly physicals.
Naturally, the choppers and buses that are used in some airplane tour packages are first-rate too. The helicopters are designed for sightseeing and most have panoramic windows, personal headsets for chatting with other passengers or the pilot, and comfortable seats. Likewise, the buses have on-board plasma TVs, terrific climate control, on-board restroom facilities, and oversized windows.
Vegas-based South Rim airplane tours are popular and often sell out. That’s why I always urge travelers to book their flight at least a week ahead. If you leave it to a day or two before, you’ll have fewer choices – or none at all. Make the mistake of buying your tickets the day of the flight and you’ll pay through the nose. Your travel group could also be forced to fly in different planes.
The Internet always has the best deals on Las Vegas air tours, but you have to know where to find them. There’s no need to spend hours searching, though. All you need to do is book your flight right on the tour company’s own website. The tour operator websites always offer the best prices, plus you’ll get the benefit of a 24-hour cancellation policy.
Travel writer Justine Moriarity is an expert on Grand Canyon tour. If you are looking for the best Las Vegas-South Rim airplane tours, she recommends visiting this page now: