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Best way to see the Grand Canyon when flying from Australia

Best way to see the Grand Canyon when flying from Australia

Dec 2nd, 2009, 09:17 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Best way to see the Grand Canyon when flying from Australia

We are planning a few days on the west coast next May before flying east. If we fly into Las Vegas what are our options for organised tours to the canyon ? Thanks.
SuziePick is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 03:51 AM
  #3  
 
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I'm not sure about the grayline tours, but if you really want to see the Grand Canyon, pick a tour that goes to the south rim at the National Park, not the west rim which is really a side canyon. There are flights from Vegas that take you to the airport near the National Park and then take you on a bus to some of the more spectacular viewing places. We did this several years ago and didn't have advanced reservations. That said, I would want to spend at least one night there and get to see sunset and sunrise so I would rent a car and drive over there and go at my own pace.

Enjoy your trip.
emalloy is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 07:54 AM
  #4  
 
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As emalloy has alluded to, Grand Canyon South Rim is the National Park, and generally regarded as the "true" and "quintessential" Grand Canyon. Most of the photos and film footage of the Grand Canyon has been taken from the South Rim, so its vast, expansive and colorful views will most likely reinforce any pre-conceived notions you might have about the Grand Canyon; it's the Grand Canyon that you're "expecting" to see.

The only downside to the South Rim is that it's 5 hours' drive away from Las Vegas. However, in order to have the most quality time for a visit there, it is best to drive yourself, preferably for an overnight visit. If that is not possible for you, then your choices are to take a bus tour or an airplane tour. A bus tour to the South Rim, though economical, is going to be an AWFULLY long day, approximately 15 hours from hotel to hotel. An airplane/ground tour, IMO, is a much more enjoyable experience, though more expensive, and will still require a good-size chunk of your time: 7 to 9 hours hotel to hotel depending on tour operator.

If you have narrowed your preferences down to a bus tour, Grayline is one company you can consider. Some others are AirBridge/Grand Canyon West Express, Sweetours, and Grand Adventures. Most companies operate 45-passenger coaches, though I've heard that AirBridge has acquired some double decker coaches that actually seat up to 80 people. Grand Adventures takes smaller groups (10-12 pax at a time), a feature which you will pay more for, but might appeal to you.

For air/ground tours, the three core operators are Scenic/Grand Canyon Airlines, who operate 18-seat deHavilland Twin Otters out of the Boulder City Airport; Maverick Airlines, who run Beechcraft 1900's out of Henderson; and Vision Airlines, who operate out of the North Las Vegas Airport with 18- and 30-seat Dornier airplanes.

Now if you're wanting a more hands-on experience where, for example, you actually get to the bottom of the Grand Canyon or if you're interested in the Glass Skywalk, then you'd want to consider a trip to the West Rim (or Grand Canyon West as it's actually known). All of the bus and air tour companies I mentioned go out there as well. Another option for visiting the West Rim is to helicopter directly from Las Vegas. Helicopter companies offering tours to the canyon floor at the West Rim are: Papillon Helicopters (Boulder City), Grand Canyon Helicopters (McCarran Executive) and Maverick Helicopters (Henderson).

Many here (and elsewhere) will rightfully tell you that the Grand Canyon West, though very scenic, is not as awe-inspiring as the South Rim. It's located at a narrower and shallower part of the gorge. It's also not a National Park, but a Native American Tribal Park which hasn't been in development for that long. But it's becoming the Grand Canyon chosen by many Las Vegas visitors due to the fact that it's closer (3 hours by car vs. 5) and it offers some opportunities not available to visitors at the South Rim.

Hope that helps - please don't hesitate to ask questions if they arise.
K_Bot is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 08:54 AM
  #5  
 
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If you take a bus tour from Vegas, you will only see the East part missing the amazing South Rim.

Some of the options I can think of: can you afford a helicopter or plane tour?

Cosmos (is it cosmos.com ?) has short, like one-week bus tours out of Las Vegas visiting all beautiful places like Grand Canyon (overnight at S. Rim) Bryce, Zion, Lake Powell.

Fly into Phoenix, AZ rent a car, visit Sedona on the way to Grand Canyon
Dayenu is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 08:56 AM
  #6  
 
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Actually, bus tours out of Las Vegas do go to the South Rim and the West Rim. The East Rim referred to by the previous poster is actually a part of the South Rim, but due to time constraints cannot be visited on day tours out of Las Vegas.
K_Bot is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 11:27 AM
  #7  
 
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To do the Grand Canyon right, consider spending a night there. This allows time for a sunrise and sunset, you can hike a little way down into it, and it allows for a stop at Hoover Dam without feeling rushed to do it all in a day.

If you wanted to really really see the Grand Canyon do a 3 day raft trip from Las Vegas.
spirobulldog is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2009, 09:48 PM
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We took the tour to the South Rim with Scenic Air and were very pleased. It was well worth the extra for an hour flight (with amazing views, including Hoover Dam and the West Rim, and a sunset on the way back) versus many additional hours in both directions on a bus. The tour was most enjoyable (even the included lunch). After landing at the South Rim, we boarded a bus for lunch, IMAX presentation, and were driven to three lookout points with plenty of time for a bit of exploring and photos. The bus driver/guide was informative and quite hilarious! All that was plenty for us...and we didn't have to rise at the crack of dawn to catch a bus. We had a leisurely breakfast before heading out and were back in Las Vegas for our dinner reservations. We didn't have the urge to drive or spend a night there.
djkbooks is offline  
Dec 9th, 2009, 08:07 AM
  #9  
 
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The tour described by djkbooks is called the "Canyon Connoisseur" or the "Grand Canyon Deluxe." Scenic also offers the option to forgo the IMAX movie and instead take a 30-minute helicopter overflight of the Grand Canyon.

Scenic Airlines is now owned by Papillon Helicopters, so their tours can also be booked on Papillon's website, www.papillon.com
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