A helicopter tour is a great way to explore the Grand Canyon South Rim.

You soar through the skies and experience the steep-sided Canyon carved by the Colorado River in Arizona, over millions of years. 

Besides the helicopter ride over one of the natural wonders of the World, visitors also enjoy a lot of activities at the South Rim. 

In this article, we share everything you must know before booking your Grand Canyon helicopter tour over the South Rim.

Grand Canyon South Rim map

As you can see in the Grand Canyon map, South Rim is far from Las Vegas.

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Why Grand Canyon South Rim

While planning a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon, it is customary to wonder ‘Grand Canyon South Rim or West Rim’?

Even though South Rim is twice the distance from Las Vegas (approximately 5 hours by road), it is the best choice for first-time visitors.

The Grand Canyon South Rim is the more picturesque of the two and consists of the most expansive and deepest parts of the natural wonder. 

Visitors prefer South Rim for its beautiful views, numerous visitor services, and family-oriented activities. 

Mather Point at South Rim offers some of the most beautiful views. Image: NPS / M Quinn

Grand Canyon South Rim is also recommended for tourists with young children, as there is more for them to do.

It also helps that the South Rim is open year-round. 

Go ahead and find out everything you can do at South Rim.

Grand Canyon West – what you will miss

Grand Canyon West is on the Hualapai Indian Tribal Lands and is NOT a part of Grand Canyon National Park. 

Even though it is closer to major cities such as Las Vegas (two and a half hours by road), we don’t recommend it for first-timers. 

Some of the popular Grand Canyon West attractions you may miss by opting for the South Rim are – Skywalk, Hualapai Ranch, and Guano Point. 

The Grand Canyon Skywalk, which is sometimes called the glass sky bridge, glass walkway, etc., is the main attraction of West Rim. 

Walking on the Grand Canyon Skywalk is West Rim’s most popular activity. Image: Grandcanyonwest.com

It is the second most visited location at the Grand Canyon and gets around 1 million visitors annually.

However, if you love adventure activities, helicopter tours to Grand Canyon West are better suited for you.


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Grand Canyon South Rim helicopter tours

Since South Rim is further than the West Rim, it isn’t accessible by helicopters. 

However, once you reach South Rim, you can board one of the latest sightseeing helicopters for breathtaking aerial views of the Grand Canyon. 

Image: Maverickhelicopter.com

We list some of the most highly-rated South Rim tours – 

Grand Canyon South Rim Bus Tour with Optional Helicopter flight

This trip is a Grand Canyon South Rim tour starting from Las Vegas.

You get picked from your Las Vegas hotel, and then board an air-conditioned, luxury motor coach, which passes through the Mojave Desert, Black Mountains, Grand Wash Cliffs of Arizona on its way to the South Rim. 

Upon reaching the Grand Canyon, you relax over lunch and then start exploring the Southern Rim of the natural wonder. 

You make scenic stops at Bright Angel Lodge, Mather Point, etc., and understand the Canyon’s history, geology, and wildlife.

You upgrade for a 25-minute helicopter flight over the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Departure: Pick up from your hotel in Las Vegas

Tour timings: Starts early, 14 hours long
Duration in the air: 25 minutes
Narration: By the Pilot
Tour Operator: Gray Line Las Vegas

Cost of the tour: $324 / person

See available dates & read reviews

Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon South Rim from Tusayan, Arizona

This trip is one of the most popular helicopter tours over Grand Canyon and takes off from Grand Canyon Village, in Tusayan, Arizona.

This ECO-Star helicopter with huge panoramic windows takes off from South Rim and goes up to the North Rim. 

You get to see the Painted Desert, Desert View Watchtower, Marble Canyon, Point Imperial, Dragon Corridor, Colorado River, etc. 

Departure: 107 Corsair Dr, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023, USA

Tour timings: 8 am to 4.45 pm
Duration in the air: 45 minutes
Narration: By the pilot
Tour Operator: Maverick Helicopters

Cost of the tour: $280 / person

See available dates & read reviews


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South Rim Grand Canyon airplane tour

Luxury coaches take a long time, and helicopters don’t have the range to reach the South Rim.

That’s why if money isn’t an issue, and you are short on time, we recommend this airplane tour to get from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim. 

This Grand Canyon experience begins with a Las Vegas hotel pickup, followed by a quick trip to Henderson Executive Airport.

A Beechcraft 1900D aircraft takes you to the South Rim, where you spend two and half hours exploring the Arizonian natural wonder. 

You can upgrade your experience to include a breathtaking helicopter ride over the Tower of Ra, Dragon Corridor, Kaibab National Forest, and the mighty Colorado River.

That’s is why this tour is often referred to as the South Rim plane and helicopter tour because it includes both the experiences. 

Departure: Pick up from your hotel in Las Vegas

Tour timings: 7 hours tour
Duration in the air: 25+ minutes
Narration: By the Pilot
Tour Operator: Maverick Helicopters

Cost of the tour: $340 / person

See available dates & read reviews


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Grand Canyon South Rim bus tour

After you get picked up from your Las Vegas hotel, you board an air-conditioned, narrated bus tour to the Grand Canyon South Rim.

The coach winds its way through the Mojave Desert, Black Mountains, Grand Wash Cliffs of Arizona, offering various sights. 

At the South Rim, you make scenic stops at Bright Angel Lodge and Mather Point, taking in the Canyon’s charm. 

You can either upgrade for a 25-minute helicopter flight over the South Rim or opt for a Hummer two-hour tour. 

Departure: Pick up from your hotel in Las Vegas

Tour timings: 14 hours long
Tour Operator: Gray Line Las Vegas

Cost of the tour: $213 / person

See available dates & read reviews

If you prefer a bit of luxury, check out this private tour to Grand Canyon South Rim in an SUV. If you want to do a heli tour, you can always book one at the attraction. 

Bonus recommendation: This Grand Canyon National Park VIP Tour from Las Vegas is highly rated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include a helicopter tour over the South Rim. 


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Grand Canyon South Rim from Flagstaff

There are no direct Grand Canyon South Rim helicopter tours that take off from Flagstaff, Arizona.

However, you can book an airplane tour of Grand Canyon South Rim from Phoenix.

Phoenix to South Rim flight

Flights take off from the Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, two hours drive from Flagstaff. 

Visitors travel in either a Cessna Caravan or T207, both of which are high-winged airplanes ideal for sightseeing from the air and taking photos. Find out more

However, if you don’t want to drive to Phoenix and then board the airplane, you have yet another workaround. 

Reach the Grand Canyon South Rim either by coach or train and take off in a helicopter from the Grand Canyon Village, separately. 

Every day numerous helicopter tours take off from the Grand Canyon Village in South Rim. Our favorite is the 45-minute ECO-Star helicopter tour offered by Maverick Helicopters

Here are two of the most popular tours to get to Grand Canyon South Rim – 

Grand Canyon Railway Adventure Package: You board the historic Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, 48 kms (30 miles) from Flagstaff. On the way, you get entertained by musicians and cowboys. 

Small-Group Grand Canyon Tour: This 11-hour tour starts at 7 am from Flagstaff and is limited to 14 people to ensure a personalized Grand Canyon experience. 


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Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim

There are no direct Grand Canyon South Rim helicopter tours that take off from Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona to Phoenix to South Rim

Every day at 8 am, Grand Canyon flights take off from the Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, which is 160 kms (99 miles) from Sedona. 

You can cover the distance in approximately 90 minutes. 

The whole tour is 7 hours long, during which you also get down on the South Rim and explore further. Find out more

Some of the adventurous tourists reach the Grand Canyon South Rim either by coach or train and take off in a helicopter from the Grand Canyon Village.

Our favorite South Rim tours from Sedona are the small-group Grand Canyon tour and the Grand Canyon Deluxe Day Trip, both starting at 7 am. 

Some of the visitors prefer the Sunset tour of Grand Canyon from Sedona, which starts later at 10 am. 

Bonus recommendation: Verde Canyon Railroad Adventure may not take you to Grand Canyon, but it is one of Sedona’s most popular family-friendly experiences.  


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What to do at Grand Canyon South Rim

Visitors can indulge in numerous Grand Canyon South Rim activities. 

Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoints

All the viewpoints along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are spread over its three sections – Desert View Road, Grand Canyon Village, and Hermit Road. 

While all of them offer stunning views, some of the spots are better than the rest. 

Mather Point is the most popular viewpoint on the South Rim and attracts the biggest crowds. 

If time permits, you can visit all of them. 

Viewpoints on Desert View Road: Shoshone Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Navajo Point, Desert Viewpoint

Viewpoints in Grand Canyon Village: Mather Point, Yavapai Point, Yaki Point, Ooh Aah Point, 

Viewpoints on Hermit Road: Powell Viewpoint, Hopi Viewpoint, Mohave Viewpoint, The Abyss, Pima Point, and Hermit’s Rest.

Grand Canyon South Rim village

Grand Canyon village in South Rim has three zones – the Visitor Center, the Market Plaza, and the Historic District, home to the railroad depot.

The village has some of the best scenic overlooks in the park, including Yavapai Point. 

Some of the places of interest at the village are the Visitor Center, Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, Buckey O’Neill Cabin, Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Kolb Studio, etc. 

Besides the Yavapai Museum of Geology, the village offers many activities such as helicopter tours, horseback rides, scenic train ride, and mule trips.

Grand Canyon South Rim mule rides

Image: Nps.gov

Mule rides along the Grand Canyon South Rim are offered all through the year. 

The 2-hour Canyon Vistas Rim Ride gets booked 15 months in advance, so you may have to plan. 

Riders must be at least nine years of age, be at least 57 inches (4’ 9”) tall, 

weigh less than 102 Kgs (225 pounds), and be able to understand instructions in English.

Grand Canyon South Rim sunrise

Watching the Grand Canyon South Rim sunrise is one of the finest things you can do early in the morning. 

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