If you want to the visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you need to seriously consider this airplane tour & the option that comes with a helicopter ride...
Quite often I get inquiries from travelers about the best way to go from Las Vegas to the South Rim. And my answer will always be via airplane.
I know it sounds black and white to put it that way but I have my reasons. The first is this one: The plane takes only 60 minutes to go from Vegas to Tusayan/South Rim. By ground (e.g. bus or rental car) and you're looking at 5.5 hours on the road.
Then there's the fact that Las Vegas helicopters don't fly direct to the South Rim because it's too far. Funny because I get plenty of good folks arguing that it's possible but frankly it's not and it's probably some "deal" that's put together to sell you something very expensive.
So, to end the debate, the absolute only air tour that goes direct from Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park (e.g. South Rim) is the plane. Period. Now, if you are set on taking a helicopter ride and you want to visit the West Rim, I strongly encourage that.
Lift Your Glass!
Further, if you do go helicopter I suggest you check out this article that I just posted. It goes through all the variations of the Champagne Picnic tour and concludes that the best of the bunch is the one that lands at the bottom, comes with a Colorado River boat ride and Skywalk VIP tickets.
But I digress...
What makes the Vegas-South Rim airplane so awesome is that you can do the official Grand Canyon in less than 9 hours. That's phenomenal because that includes hotel pick up and drop as well as up to 3 hours at the Park. Further, you get there in less than an hour and you are totally refreshed and roaring to go.
This plane ride comes in two "flavors." There's THE BASIC which is the flight over followed by an in-Park luxury bus tour that includes Mather Point and Grand Canyon Village, the absolute two key spots from which to explore the South Rim.
The other is THE DELUXE version and this one is my preference because it includes everything in the basic package plus a 30-minute rim-to-rim helicopter ride. This particular flight goes from South Rim to North Rim and back through the Dragoon Corridor, which is the widest and deepest section of the Park. Then you transfer to the deluxe bus and tour the Park.
This Vegas airplane tour departs about four times a day (depends on time of the year but usually there are four departures during summer because the days are longer). I prefer the early and mid-morning flights to the later ones because the views are usually clearer and the air is much smoother.
The flight itself covers some very interesting territory including Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and everything south of the Colorado River from Kingman, Arizona, to Grand Canyon National Park Airport in Tusayan, Arizona (when you land in Tusayan you are landing in Kaibab National Forest, home to the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the U.S.).
This flight comes with everything, too. As noted earlier, hotel shuttle service is provided free of charge. Then there's the fact the packages comes with lunch, guide service and all applicable taxes and fees. In other words, what you pay during online checkout is fixed and thus you will NEVER have to pay a dime more.
Except if you want window seats. Remember, these aircraft seat up to 19 adult passengers and seats are usually configured two to a side. Thus most of the time you'll see pretty much what's out side if you have an aisle seat. However, there are travelers (including me) that want a window and to get those you've got to pay $10 extra.
Is it worth it? Yes because the trip between Las Vegas and the South Rim is quite fantastic and for the record you'll be using the Colorado River (a/k/a Grand Canyon) as a guideline between the two destinations and so it can be said that you'll have seen up to 75 percent of the canyon from the air by the time you land. Pretty cool.
This article is designed to help you understand your options if you take the Las Vegas airplane tour that goes to the South Rim of the National Park (Go here for West Rim flights). The Vegas-SR trip takes just 60 minutes to get to the South Rim and comes with a 2.5-hour bus tour. The deluxe version does the same except it comes with a helicopter ride. This trip is an incredible value and personally I find it under priced even during the summer months.
Until next time -