Help me pick a grand canyon helicopter tour.
May 9, 2011 2:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Las Vegas. Help me pick a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.

I'm taking my mom and my aunt. My aunt is 70 but in good shape. My mom is in her early 60s but has arthritis. The effects of the arthritis on her mobility vary. Mostly she's ok but she has the occasional pretty bad day. And obviously it's not predictable.

My ideal tour, which it would seem does not exist would do all of the following: Depart Vegas by helicopter. Go down into the canyon offering stunning views. Give the option to get out and walk around down at the bottom. That river down there, are there non-adventurous (i.e. sit in a safe comfy dry boat) ways of going on it? If so, I'd like that. Go to the big glass platform. Give some time to walk around the platform.

Oh yeah, and not outrageously expensive.

So obviously that doesn't exist, but what's the closest I can come? What tour have you done and recommend? On which of my wants should I compromise? What are the advantages/disadvantages of the various rims?

This will be for August.

And the bonus question: there's a lot of other neat stuff to see around there, no? What is and isn't worth trekking out by bus (e.g. Hoover Dam?). Any bus tours that cover a whole bunch of it that are worthwhile?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just FYI, that big glass platform seems to be a big ripoff.
posted by WizKid at 2:53 PM on May 9, 2011

I'm going to Vegas next week so I looked into helicopter tours. Initially, we booked this tour. But after reading the negative reviews on the site (the reviews are automatically set to be displayed from best to worst, which I didn't notice right away) and realizing that no, you can't see multiple views of the canyon and tour over it for hours but more like a couple of minutes, we cancelled. This tour might be a better option but sadly the reviews don't mention how much time is actually spent in/over the canyon. Hmm, I don't think I answered your question but maybe it helped anyway.

Skywalk seems to be a drag. Here's a NYT article on it. Please read reviews on it before you decide to go, it really does seem more like a horror show.
posted by marais at 9:37 PM on May 9, 2011

Skip the heli-trip. It's really not worth it, plus it's offensively noise-pollutive to people who appreciate the Grand Canyon for what it is, as opposed to just for how it looks. And all you do is fly over. It's not a shuttle service that drops you off (thank God!).

Generally, the only way an ordinary person experiences being in a helicopter at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is by getting choppered out for medical reasons.

I strongly advise you take the day tour between Glen Canyon Dam Lee's Ferry. It's on the Colorado River, in Marble Canyon, which for all practical purposes is part of the Grand Canyon. Not the deepest part, but still deep. The float trip is 12 leisurely miles long. There are no rapids of any note, so you shouldn't get wet, and even if you do manage to a little bit, in August it will feel GREAT, even to a 70-yr-old. This is the only reasonable way for you to get any sense of being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with that doesn't likely involve extreme discomfort at the very least.

Once you're done, drive to one of the rims of the canyon for some stunning vistas. I very strongly suggest the north rim, as it is far less crowded, 1000 feet higher than the south, and more densely treed. In August it will be bearable. The south rim on the other hand positively teems with tourists in summer, and is far less shaded. You would get to see the Grand Canyon, but in the worst way possible.
posted by perspicio at 12:55 AM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, if you're on a brief time table, please don't do a whirlwind tour. Go for quality. Do less and enjoy more. You should be able to spend at least a day at the Grand Canyon without getting bored & thinking you have to rush off to some other place. If you can't, I don't know of any good reason you should bother going in the first place. Bucket list does not count as a good reason.
posted by perspicio at 1:07 AM on May 10, 2011

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