Grand Canyon Toursl: Heli Rides For Winter National Park Visitors

It’s winter again and a great time to visit the Grand Canyon National Park. The temperatures have cooled down to the low 40s, there is occasional snow, and the air is crystal clear. The conditions are perfect for taking a helicopter tour over this amazing national landmark.

Departure Points

You can take a helicopter tour out of Vegas in Nevada and out of the airport in Tusayan, Arizona. If you take off from Vegas, you’ll tour the West Rim and if you take off from Arizona, you’ll tour the South Rim. Unfortunately, you can’t fly between the two rims. Instead, if you’ll be in Vegas and want to take a helicopter tour of the South Rim, you’ll need to fly there by plane and then begin your chopper tour.

Also, be award of the climate differences between the two rims, as it is colder at the South Rim. That’s because it has a higher elevation at 6700 feet. The West Rim, meanwhile, has an elevation of 4700 feet. December to March, the temperatures at the South Rim are about 40-50 degrees in the daytime and at night they plummet down to 18-25 degrees. The West Rim sees temperatures between 60-70 during the day and 40s at night during the winter months.

During winter, there’s a strong chance there will be snow on the ground. It’s very rare that helicopter flights will be grounded due to snowfall as snowstorms move in and out of the National Park with rapidity. The West Rim is usually snow-free, but once in a blue moon it will get lightly dusted.


In the rare event your helicopter tour is canceled because of bad weather, your tour operator should give you a 100 percent refund of your money. However, if you buy your tour from a tour consolidator, you may run into trouble because they often remove the refund policy since they are in the business of filling empty seats. So, to be safe, buy your tour directly from the tour operator and avoid sites like Priceline, HotWire, and Expedia.

What to wear during this season deserves consideration. Dressing in layers is the best way to go. Specifically, find a good base layer. This might be a t-shirt or a polyester shirt that wicks moisture and keeps you warm. You probably have tops like that already and won’t need to buy anything new. Over that, I’d wear a sweater and then a Parka-like jacket. A pair of gloves, a scarf, long pants, wool socks and a pair of sturdy shoes are also suggested.

If you plan to land at the Canyon, you definitely want to dress for the weather. Landing tours are available from Vegas only since South Rim choppers can’t land on the rim. Some fun things you can do on a landing tour include enjoying a Champagne picnic, floating along the Colorado River on a boat tour, and walking on the Skywalk. Landing tours are very popular, so you want to book your seats in advance.

Book Soon

How far in advance should you make your reservations? At least a week, especially during winter as helicopter tour operators limit the number of flights, which is compounded by the fact that helicopters can only hold six passengers to begin with. Further, and I mentioned this earlier in the article, book your flight direct from the operator on the Internet. The best deals are clearly on the Web, but, in order to make sure you get them, you must fully complete your transaction online (lots of people fail to do this and end up getting billed the retail rate!).

Grand Canyon National Park authority Kate Reingold recommends these hot Canyon helicopters. She also recommends going here for discounts that make these flights more affordable: