Grand Canyon Helicopters, a leading supplier of National Park flights from Las Vegas, released today its list of the top-rated tour deals for visitors who plan to see the Park in 2012. The list, which the company has posted annually since 2008, is the result of months of researching nearly 100 air tours. Trips are segmented by West Rim, South Rim, landing tour, air tour and point of origination.
"Our study shows that helicopter tours are one of Las Vegas' most sought-after activities," said Keith Kravitz, CEO of Grand Canyon Helicopters.” To satisfy demand, vendors are popping up like corn. Our goal is help visitors separate the wheat from the chaff and purchase the flight that best meets their needs." The post reports that the majority of Las Vegas travelers choose a landing tour.
Such air adventures range from a helicopter that lands at the bottom of the West Rim and water rafting on the Colorado River to trips that include the Grand Canyon Skywalk and Gold Mine tours. "By far, landing tours give you more bang for your buck," noted Kravitz. "Indeed, you'll see spectacular sights during an air-only trip. But if you want an immersive experience, you've got to deplane and get boots on the ground."
The West Rim, located 120 miles east of Las Vegas on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, is the only place in Grand Canyon National Park where helicopters are permitted to fly below the edge and land at the bottom. "The descent itself takes 10 minutes from top to bottom," said Kravitz. "In total, it's a 4,000-foot drop. Travelers love it because they get to go up-close-and-personal with the gorge. There's no other trip like it."
He added, "The base of the canyon is as primordial as it gets. It's here where you'll see some of the Earth's oldest exposed rock. Just 200 yards from the landing pad is the legendary Colorado River. Standing on the banks, you'll gain a real appreciation for this famous waterway."
The rim, also known as Grand Canyon West, is also home to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a bridge made of glass that lets you walk up to 70 feet past the edge. Other highlights include Hualapai Ranch, the Indian Cultural Center, Guano Point and Eagle Point. "Grand Canyon West is a great day trip for Las Vegas travelers," Kravitz said. "Choppers make it over there in 45 minutes so you'll be there in no time. Plus the route over is packed with sights, including Lake Mead and Hoover Dam."
Popularity for helicopter rides is surging. For travelers, this can be boon or a bane. The upside includes more flights and types of tours. However, according to Kravitz, the probability of tours selling out has skyrocketed. "I urge my clients to book at least 72 hours in advance," he says. "The more time you can put between you and your date of departure the better. You don't want to be the guy who's stranded on the tarmac watching everyone lift off."