Looking for things to do while visiting the Grand Canyon? Try a package trip. These adventures range from helicopter rides to bus tours and come with all the necessities travelers need to enjoy one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.
From a cost perspective, helicopters are the most expensive followed by airplane, rafting and bus. In each category, you’ll find a value vendor and a 5-star operator, the later of which will cost more but the service, equipment and experience are far superior.
The majority of tours originate from Las Vegas, NV, and Tusayan, AZ, the small town just outside the gates of the South Rim. Trips from Vegas go to the West Rim and the South Rim. Trips from the South Rim cover only that rim. There are no tours that connect the two destinations.
Las Vegas helicopter tours only go to the West Rim as the South Rim is out of range. If you have your heart set on seeing the South Rim, I recommend you consider taking a direct 45-minute airplane flight as it’s much more convenient than taking the bus, which takes 5.5 hours.
The West Rim is a 45-minute flight from Las Vegas. It’s the only place in the entire canyon where you can fly to the bottom and land. You can even include a Colorado River boat ride or tickets to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass bridge that lets you walk 70 feet past the edge!
South Rim helicopters are air-only and are either 30-minute or 50-minute flights. The basic tour goes from South Rim to the North Rim and back. The extended tour covers nearly 75 percent of the National Park and is my personal favorite.
Airplane tours are much like helicopter tours in that they follow the same flight patterns and offer similar landing packages. West Rim airplanes depart daily and fly over the Grand Canyon or land at Grand Canyon West Airport. On the ground, you can explore the rim, do the Skywalk or helicopter to the bottom and take a boat ride. There’s only one South Rim air tour and it does the same thing as the 50-minute helicopter ride except at a higher elevation.
Bus trips are available from Las Vegas and Phoenix. From Vegas, you can go to the West Rim or the South Rim. These trips require a full day. Buses are very modern and come with onboard restrooms, recliner style seats and excellent climate control. All trips come with a Hoover Dam photo stop.
Phoenix bus trips offer pick up throughout the metro area including Scottsdale. They go to the South Rim with a stop in beautiful Sedona, famous for it’s red sandstone buttes. This tour comes with 2.5 hours inside the Park and can be upgraded to include a helicopter ride.
Smooth-water float tours are seasonal and run from late March to November. The Las Vegas version includes a helicopter ride to the bottom of the canyon before embarking on a 11-mile float down the Colorado River. South Rim rafting starts at Glenn Canyon Dam in Page, AZ, and goes 15 miles downriver to Lee’s Ferry.
Package tours are all-inclusive. Depending on type of tour (e.g. landing, aerial, rafting), trips include free hotel pick up/drop off, lunch, guide service and all Park fees and taxes.
When purchasing a Grand Canyon tour, make sure to use the Internet. The lowest prices are there. But there is a caveat: In order to qualify for that terrific online discount, you must complete the transaction online.