Grand Canyon 123

Meet the AMAZING Las Vegas Airplane tour to Grand Canyon
that comes with helicopter & boat ride
(Plus You can even add Skywalk tickets!)...

I get a lot of travelers interested in the 4-1 helicopter tour (many mistakenly refer to it as the 3-1 tour). It's a great trip. Unfortunately, it's "high season" now and the 4-1 sells out regularly. This is due to two things: 1) Popularity; and 2) limited seating.

But no worries. I have an option for you if you find yourself in this situation. Basically, it's the airplane version of the helicopter tour. It does exactly the same thing as the 4-1 but it's much, much cheaper. Indeed, it's not a helicopter ride but it's most definitely packed with value.

So here's the deal...

This airplane package departs from Boulder. In fact, nearly 95 percent of airplane tours do. This is because it's cheaper to operate them from this municipal airport versus McCarran International on the Las Vegas Strip. Yes, there's a 30-minute shuttle ride involved but it's quite pleasant and you get to see the part of Las Vegas where people actually live.

The Plane

Anyhow, once at Boulder, you'll check in and begin boarding a deluxe fixed-wing deHavilland Twin Otter. These planes seat up to 19 people so we're not talking a 4-seat Cessna here folks but a real aircraft designed specifically for comfort and sightseeing (e.g. the aircraft is equipped with oversized windows, lounge-style seats and wings attached to the top of the cabin for clear views).

The flight plan is the same as what you'd do aboard a helicopter: Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Grand Wash Cliffs, Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. You'll land at Grand Canyon West Airport and deplane near the heliport, which is perfect because now you're going to take a helicopter to the bottom of the Canyon!

scenic airlines

The actual descent to the bottom is about 10-15 minutes and it's incredible. Remember, the West Rim is the only place where you are permitted to fly a helicopter to the base and land so this segment of the tour is super special. Once at the bottom, you'll deplane and take a gentle stroll to the banks of the Colorado River.

Boat Ride

Upon reaching the banks, you'll come to the main dock. This is where all the adventure-grade steel pontoon boats are docked. You'll take your seat (I recommend the back by the river pilot who is usually a person from the Hualapai Indian Tribe) and start powering up river. You'll go up about 10-15 minutes and then drift back to the dock.

Words can't do the float justice. Suffice it to say that it's quite extraordinary drifting down one of the oldest rivers in the western U.S. and looking up nearly one mile to top of the Canyon. Also, the engines are cut so all you hear is the river's current and wildlife. It's an utterly peaceful feeling and something I recommend every guest should try at least once in a lifetime.

Then it's back to the helicopter and the ascent to the top. There you'll land and make your way to the Grand Canyon Skywalk (for those of you counting, the glass bridge makes this trip officially the "4-1"). You get up to 2 hours on the top and you can spend all of it on the Skywalk if you like. Personally, I think 30 minutes is enough but I've seen some travelers spend up to an hour on it. To each his own, right?

West Rim Things to Do

The Hualapai Tribe, which owns and operates the West Rim, has a free shuttle service that goes between Eagle Point (where the Skywalk is located) and Guano Point, which is the most northern point of the Rim and where you'll get the best view of the Canyon and the River. Lunch is included in this package and you can take it at Eagle or Guano, which gets my vote.

grand canyon boat

There's a ton of other things to do on the top and they include Hualapai Ranch and the Indian Cultural Center. I suggest you budget time to include both because they are quite interesting and well worth your time. You're guide will inform you when it's time to head back to the airplane and off you'll go, taking flight over some very pristine sections of the Mojave Desert until you make the descent into Boulder.

Now if you're flying into Phoenix or planning on spending time in Sedona, yes, the South Rim is the place for you. Indeed, there are helicopter rides out of Phoenix and Sedona but they are super-expensive and not in high-demand. Because of that I usually recommend that folks rent a car and drive up to the National Park. Also, by having your own vehicle, you can travel about the Park at your own leisure and pace.


My intent here is to introduce you to the 4-1 airplane tour from Las Vegas to the West Rim. I think it's important to be aware of this trip because as we head into the summer months the 4-1 helicopter tour will be difficult to book unless you do it at least a week or two (two is preferable) in advance. Actually, demand for the airplane version will spike, too, but there's a good chance that if you are a party of three or less that you'll get seats 3-to-4 days ahead of time. Also note that the airplane tour is much cheaper than the helicopter one so for those of you on a budget this is definitely worth your consideration.

Book a 3-1 Las Vegas Airplane Tour to the Grand Canyon

Or learn more about the 4-1 helicopter option

Until next time -



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