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Grand Canyon Helicopter vs Airplane Tour: how to choose?

May 4, 2021 /
Grand Canyon Flight Tours

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Of the many ways to see the Grand Canyon, there are two in particular that are becoming increasingly popular, namely, helicopter tours and airplane tours. There are many who upon finding this out ask us which one is better. Obviously, it is not an easy question to answer, because, as you can guess, there are many factors that come into play, for instance, the time available and your personal preferences.

In this article, we will try to explore the differences between the two types of tours and I will give you my personal take on this matter. Once you’ve finished reading, I hope you’ll be able to use this to draw your own conclusions according to your wishes and needs.

Helicopter vs Airplane Tour: How to Choose?

Although at first glance these might seem like two similar solutions, airplane and helicopter tours are quite different from each other. Let’s look at the differences:

Close up vs. Bird’s-Eye View

Grand Canyon Helicopter vs Airplane TourLet’s start with the first major distinction (which could already sway you towards one option or the other). On the plane, you will observe the national park only from above, while on the helicopter you can admire the Grand Canyon much more closely. This is due to the fact that, for safety reasons, planes are forced to fly at a higher altitude than helicopters, so by choosing the latter, you will have a closer and more personal experience. If you fly in an airplane, on the other hand, you will enjoy a “bird’s eye view” that will give you a clear idea of how the canyon and the surrounding area develop. They are therefore two completely different approaches, so it is a matter of choosing the one that matches your expectations.

Travel Speed

The second aspect is closely related to the first one mentioned and it concerns the speed of travel. Planes used for air tours fly at a higher speed than helicopters do. Flying in a helicopter will allow you to enjoy the infinite nuances that the Grand Canyon at a slower pace and in greater detail.

Flight Stability

grand canyon flight toursAnother aspect of the two flight experiences we can emphasize is the fact that helicopter flights are more stable flight than plane flights. This contrast is caused by the way helicopters and planes react differently to turbulence. If you want the flight experience to be as steady as possible, you will have no choice but to select a helicopter flight.

Capacity of Planes and Helicopters

Something else to take into account is the different capacities of the two vehicles. A helicopter can accommodate fewer people than a plane and this could be a factor to keep in mind if you prefer to experience a very private tour instead of being with a large group of strangers. Whether you are a large family or a small group, this could mean that if you choose a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, you will probably have the helicopter practically to yourselves!

New Factor

airplane vs helicopter tour grand canyonIn conclusion, at least personally, it is necessary to underline another point that can tip the scale towards one of the two options, namely the novelty factor.

For many people, traveling in a helicopter is a new experience, while most people have already been on an airplane before. Of course, a plane for air tours is very different from a Boeing, but surely the novelty of the helicopter can spark your curiosity to try a new means of transportation.

Grand Canyon Flight Tours: Which Should You Choose?

So far I have tried to list the main differences that can be found when considering a helicopter versus a plane tour. Personally, I recommend that you opt for a helicopter tour, because I believe it can offer you a better experience and also a better view of the Grand Canyon. If you are planning to visit Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, I also advise you to consider the tour described in the following article with all the information you need about booking the tour.

Helicopter tour from Las Vegas

In any case, whatever you decide, we have prepared two articles that provide an overview to help you choose which airplane tour or which helicopter tour to take when visiting the Grand Canyon. Remember, however, that helicopter tours from Las Vegas only fly to the West Rim. If you want to fly to the South Rim from Las Vegas, you’ll have to travel by plane!

Tour Grand Canyon helicopter or planeFinally, keep in mind that most tours depart from Las Vegas, but if you don’t plan to visit it, don’t worry, because there are many tours directly from the Grand Canyon itself. However, be careful to book a tour in time because they are very popular and sell out quickly, so if you have decided to go for it, move in time because otherwise, especially in high season, you risk missing your chance.

However, if neither of these two options has grabbed your attention, you may consider a third option 🙂 which will also allow you to observe the Grand Canyon from above. We haven’t prepared an article about this yet, because we want to try it in person first…

Filippo Nardelli
Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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