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2 Grand Canyon Airplane Tours That Will Rock Your World

Author : Keith Kravitz   Top Author

Take an airplane tour and you'll see 140 miles of the Grand Canyon. Fly to the South Rim from Las Vegas and you'll see even more. If you visit on foot, you'll see a paltry 40 miles. Let's face it: Flying is the number one option if you really want to "do" the canyon.

I know of only two tours that truly get the job done. One's called Grand Canyon Deluxe and the other Grand Discovery. Both are operated by Grand Canyon Airlines. Here are specifics:

Grand Canyon Deluxe

This flight departs from Las Vegas, NV, and it's the only air tour that goes direct to the South Rim. Flight time to the National Park is 45 minutes. The trip is conducted aboard a fixed-wing Vistaliner, an aircraft that has been fitted with over-sized windows for sightseeing (and photos!) and an enlarged cabin for comfort. Includes in-flight narration in multiple languages. The flight plan follows the Colorado River and includes Lake Mead and Hoover Dam flyovers before landing at Grand Canyon Airport. Here, you'll deplane and board a luxury bus to the South Rim. This package includes a stop at Mather Point, one the Park's best viewpoints, before heading to Bright Angel Lodge, where the best gift shops and restaurants are. Price is $190 adults and $170 for children. Total trip time is eight hours.

Grand Discovery

Departs from Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, Arizona. From the South Rim's main entrance, the airport is just 10 minutes away. This tour is the one that "invented" air tours over the Park. Conducted on a Vistaliner, it departs daily and heads east, crossing Zuni Point and the Zuni Corridor where you'll see the Desert Watchtower, the Painted Desert, and the Navajo Indian Reservation. The flight returns along the North Rim past Imperial Point, the highest point in the canyon, to the Dragoon Corridor, the widest, deepest part of the Canyon before making an exhilarating descent over the Kaibab Plateau. Every seat is a good one. Price is $120 for adults and $98 for children. Total flight time is 50 minutes.

There's a lot of confusion about the difference between the South Rim and the West Rim. Here are some quick facts that distinguish the two:

South Rim

The South Rim is located in the heart of Northern Arizona some 277 miles east of Las Vegas. It's four hours from Phoenix and two hours from Sedona, AZ. This rim is classic canyon: Most of the photos you've seen are from this area. The rim is well-known for its viewpoints (Yaki Point, Hermit's Rest, and Mather Point), hiking trails (South Kaibab, Bright Angel), and souvenir shops (Verkamp's, Hopi House, Bright Angel). Las Vegas travelers have two ways to get here: Bus, which takes 5.5 hours, or airplane, which takes 45 minutes.

West Rim

The West Rim is 120 miles east of Las Vegas and just outside the official boundaries of the National Park. It's host to the popular Grand Canyon Skywalk, a $30 million glass bridge that goes 70 feet over the edge and supports you 4,000 feet above the mighty Colorado River. The West Rim is also the only place where you can take a helicopter to the bottom. There are several ways to get here from Las Vegas: Bus (2.5 hrs.), heli (45 mins.), and airplane (25 mins.). There are no direct flights from the South Rim to the West Rim.

I've had the pleasure of doing both the South Rim bus and airplane trips from Las Vegas, NV. I strongly recommend the airplane tour. It's worth paying extra because you get to the rim quicker and you're fresh when you land. You also get back to Las Vegas in time to go out for dinner and a show. From the South Rim, nothing beats the Grand Discovery tour. You'll see in 50 minutes what would take more than a couple of days on foot. It's also ridiculously priced. So go and get your boarding pass and your camera - it's time to fly and master the Grand Canyon.

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Ready to do the Canyon?!?! Read Keith Kravitz tour operator reviews first at

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Tags:   grand canyon, grand canyon tours, grand canyon airplane tours, grand canyon air tours, las vegas, flights, tusayan, arizona

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Submitted : 2010-10-10    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 414