The Las Vegas Grand Canyon Deluxe Tour: to ‘Heli’ and back?

Morning travelers ~ Right now at the Grand Canyon it’s a brisk 50 degrees – aaaaaaaaahhhhhhh! But soon, overnight temperatures are going to start dipping down into the 40’s, so hope you have at least a light jacket for those sunrise walks like we talked about in our last post. Today’s post piggy-backs on a TripAdvisor forum thread about the Las Vegas Grand Canyon tour package that started it all: the Las Vegas Grand Canyon Deluxe Tour.

TripAdvisor member ‘Gunner1985’ from Melbourne Australia writes:

We are going to do a Las Vegas Grand Canyon South Rim airplane tour. We will fly into Grand Canyon South Rim and then get a bus around to two of the different overlooks. We are trying to decide if we should upgrade and get a Grand Canyon helicopter flight out over the North Rim. We cant decide because if we get a Grand Canyon helicopter flight, we only get to stop at one overlook while we are on ground. But if we don’t do the helicopter, we get to stop at two overlooks while on ground, but no helicopter ride. What is mostly recommended for people who have limited time? Helicopter ride and only one Grand Canyon overlook so less time on the ground? Or no Grand Canyon helicopter ride and two overlooks with more time on ground?

The general consensus, expressed albeit succinctly, was to nix the helicopter flight and enjoy the limited time you have at the Grand Canyon enjoying the view from the rim. Then ‘HowlnBubba,’ a relatively new contributor to the forums, offered this valuable perspective:

We have done both Grand Canyon helicopter tours and ground tours at the South Rim. Both were enjoyable, but it depends on what you’re looking for. The helicopter will give you a relatively close look at more of the canyon’s features.   However, keep in mind that Las Vegas Grand Canyon airplane flight should give you some good aerial views. Personally, I don’t feel that anything can substitute for the on-the-ground experience. Even with limited time, you may see fewer canyon features but you’ll see them better and have the experience of really being there.

‘HowlnBubba’ also goes on to add this great suggestion:

If the opportunity presents itself to get to the rim by Bright Angel, put up with the crowd at the top and take a short stroll down the Bright Angel Trail. A 10-minute walk gets you to the first trail tunnel, and just beyond are ancient petroglyphs that entirely too many people miss. Just that short walk puts you among the estimated 10% of park visitors who ever set foot below the rim. Pretty cool investment of time!

Indeed! Knowing the logistics of the Las Vegas Grand Canyon Deluxe Tour, I was able to add this:

The helicopter add-on to the Las Vegas Grand Canyon Deluxe is something of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the flight itself is only 30 minutes, but the time required to check-in at the heliport and go through your safety briefing actually ends up consuming about 90 minutes of rim time. But on the other hand it does allow you a glimpse (albeit a short one) of the North Rim, which is very different from the South Rim. And it’s a good way to get a feel for the complexity of the Grand Canyon because you do fly over side canyons and other features that are almost totally inaccessible even to the fittest of hikers.  But all in all I do have to agree with previous posters that one’s biggest “wow factor” moment comes when first seeing the Grand Canyon from the rim. It’s a much more personal experience.

Yes, this has to be the toughest choice ever! So moral of the story: weigh your priorities, consider your budget, and maybe ask yourself, “will I ever get back to the Grand Canyon?” If the definitive answer to that question is “no,” maybe the solution is “go for it!” Or if you want the bragging rights of having seen the Grand Canyon from both the South and the North Rim, then climb aboard that helicopter! And maybe take a look at this video of the North Canyon helicopter tour and see what you might be missing if you pass on this exciting opportunity:

That’s all for now travelers! ’til next time, make this day a “grand” one, wherever you are. 🙂

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