The Imperial Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour leaves from the Grand Canyon Airport in Tusayan, AZ, near the South Rim and Grand Canyon National Park. Lasting approximately 50 minutes, this round-trip loop and the unique features of the EcoStar helicopter allow viewers from all vantage points premium photo ops throughout the journey. Beginning with a fly-over of the southern Kaibab Forest, most of the journey is spent in the Grand Canyon itself. Initially heading eastward from the South Rim, viewers see the highest peaks within the Canyon including Lipan and Desert View Points. The journey towards the North Rim also includes views of the Little Colorado River Gorge as well as the Navajo Reservation and Painted Desert near the North Rim. The trip culminates with a journey through the 11-mile wide, 1-mile deep Dragon Corridor before returning travelers to Grand Canyon Airport.
Major Highlights: Little Colorado River Gorge
Despite its name, the Little Colorado River is one of the Grand Canyon’s largest tributaries, having carved out a distinctive gorge near the Painted Desert and Navajo Reservation near the Canyon’s North Rim. The Little Colorado River Gorge is a narrow, yet profoundly deep gash in the Earth’s surface which spans more than 45 miles long. Lacking the grandeur of the much-wider Grand Canyon, the Little Colorado River Gorge nonetheless provides a unique geographical element to the southwest landscape and, from the vantage point of a helicopter, highlights how truly remarkable the power of nature can be.
Is It the Tour for You?
The Papillon Imperial Grand Canyon Tour, though a bit more expensive than many other, similar-yet-shorter Grand Canyon helicopter tours has a lot to offer travelers with the budget to afford it. Lauded by many as a true highlight of their vacation if not their life, the real benefit of seeing the Grand Canyon this way is the low flying clearance of the helicopters. This unique transportation mode allows travelers a unique view of many of the cracks and crevices of the Canyon they would not normally have access to while the added length of the Imperial Tour (almost twice as long as others!) ensures that there will be enough time to see them.