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Best Time of Day to Fly Grand Canyon Helicopters

Justine Moriarity

Visitors: 330

Grand Canyon helicopters are one of the most exhilarating ways to see this magnificent natural wonder. Your helicopter will fly over many of the canyon's highlights, but it can also take you below the level of the rim. It's an amazing experience, but especially when you fly at the best time of day.

The air tours take off from Las Vegas as well as Tusayan, Arizona where the Grand Canyon Airport is located. The Las Vegas helicopters only fly to the West Rim, while the Tusayan helicopters only tour the South Rim. There aren't any Grand Canyon choppers that fly between the two rims, but travelers coming from Vegas can catch a 45-minute plane ride to the South Rim and to a heli tour that way.

Aerial Tours

Some of these Grand Canyon flights are air-only tours, and they are ideal if you don't have much time to spend touring the canyon. These Canyon air tours last about three hours from start to finish. But, if you can swing it, I recommend landing tours because you'll see the canyon from the ground as well as from the air.

When you're looking for the best tour, you want to book one that departs early in the morning. I recommend booking a flight that takes off sometime between 7:00 am and noon. You'll also have to factor in your check in time, because the Vegas tours require you check in for your flight about 90 minutes ahead of time. The tours that lift off from the airport in Tusayan require that you check in for your flight thirty minutes early.

Morning helicopter tours are best for several reasons. First, you'll have a smoother flight in the morning because the air isn't as turbulent as it can be in the afternoon. Another reason to book an early flight is so you can avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that frequently roll in during the afternoon hours and cause cancellations and delays.

Clear Skies

The views are clearer during early morning hours too, particularly in the summer when wildfires create smoke and haze. Afternoon fires put out so much smoke that it's more difficult to see clearly. Dust in the air compounds the issue by combining with the smoke and making the air even hazier. That same haze can, however, make sunset helicopter tours an awe-inspiring experience because the sun's rays are accentuated on the cliffs and walls of the canyon.

If you will take a landing tour that takes you to the canyon floor, then you don't want to book the earliest tours. You won't have much light at the bottom of the canyon early in the morning, especially during winter. It is better to wait for a flight that leaves around 8am.

Make sure you dress appropriately for the climate. During the summer you should wear light pants or shorts, sturdy shoes, a hat, long sleeves, and sunglasses. For a winter tour, you'll need to upgrade to warm pants, gloves, a jacket and warm hat. No matter what season you visit the Grand Canyon, you should take along sun block, water, and salty snacks.

Book Your Tour Early

Morning flights on Grand Canyon helicopters are extremely popular, so I urge you to book yours in advance. By booking early, you'll have a greater selection of lift off times and tour choices, plus, if you do it online, you can save some money. Don't put off booking a tour until the last minute. Booking your tour in Vegas or at the canyon is the worst thing you could do because you'll almost always pay more than necessary.

Tips from the Author

Fly the Grand Canyon! The author recommends checking out these helicopter reviews before going here for the best deals on flights from Las Vegas and the South Rim:


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