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The next time you're planning a trip to Las Vegas, try to find time for one of the Grand Canyon air tours. Why? Las Vegas airplane tours of the Canyon are flat out amazing!

Here's some quick info on the flights and how to find the best rates.

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Departure Points and Rims

There are two departure points for airplane tours of the Canyon: Tusayan, AZ (just outside the South Rim's gates, where Grand Canyon National Park Airport (GCN) is located) and Las Vegas, NV. Tusayan flights only do the South Rim, but flights from Vegas can take you to the West Rim or the South. The West Rim is much closer – it's an hour-long flight just to get to the South Rim from Las Vegas. It's important to know that no flights connect the two rims.

West Rim

Air tours originating in Vegas come in two main types: air-only and landing tours. The air-only flights fly over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and then circle the West Rim's highlights (including the Skywalk) before heading back to Sin City. Landing tours follow the same route, but before returning “home” they land at the top of the Rim and give you time to explore on the ground.

Air-only flights are a great way to get the Canyon's flavor for travelers with limited time or funds. Personally, though, I think the landing tours are amazing, especially since you're able to add some optional extensions. Things like a chopper flight to the bottom, an awesome smooth-water float trip down the Colorado, and/or Skywalk tickets.

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South Rim

Neither helicopters nor airplanes can land on the bottom at the South Rim – federal regulations prohibit it. That shouldn't put you off from visiting the South Rim, though. Tour planes take off from GCN 365 days a year, holidays included. The route gives you 50 minutes of airtime and covers as much as of the Canyon, including the Desert Watchtower, Imperial Point, Dragoon Corridor and a lot more.

All-Inclusive

Most Las Vegas airplane tours are all-inclusive, meaning the price covers all the National Park fees, taxes and other charges. The landing tours usually come with lunch. All you need to bring is your sunglasses, a hat, some snacks and water. Oh, and bring your camera or cell phone – just make sure you charge the battery the night before.

Booking

Summertime is high season in Vegas and at the Canyon. I'm pointing this out so that you realize how important it is to book your Grand Canyon flight well ahead. I always recommend booking Las Vegas airplane tours at least a week or two before the tour date you prefer. That will help you get the tour date and time you want. By booking ahead on the Internet, you'll also get the best available price because of the online discounts that are offered. Just make sure you complete your purchase on the tour operator's website (don't call customer service partway through or you'll end up paying full retail).

Wrapping Up …

Las Vegas air tours of the Grand Canyon are flat out amazing. To find the flight that's best for you, first decide on your departure point and the Rim you'll visit. Then go to the tour company's website and book your tour at least a week ahead of the date you want (two weeks in advance is even better). By booking ahead and doing it online, you'll get the tour you want and a great price too!

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