When Is the Best Time
The Grand Canyon will make your jaw drop. It is impossible to grasp its immense size and power from the ground. The canyon comes alive and goes through phases as the day progresses. Its many layers of sandstone and limestone reflect sunlight differently depending on the hour.
Most Reliable Tour Operators
When choosing your helicopter tour, the time of day makes a significant difference in your experience. Especially if you want the best photos, have a tight schedule, or are prone to motion sickness. We went on multiple tours and talked to dozens of helicopter pilots.
The best time of day for a Grand Canyon helicopter tour is in the morning. During the early hours, the ride is smoother because of less turbulence, the temperatures are lower, and the views are stunning.
However, other times can be excellent as well. We compared them for you in-depth, for a day you will never forget.
Grand Canyon Heli Morning Tours
Morning tours are popular and book up fast. As the canyon wakes up, the sunlight strikes the rocks at a low angle creating rich colors and shadows that showcase the canyon's glory.
If you are prone to motion sickness or get nauseous often, a morning flight will be the smoothest. Turbulence is created from hot air rising over the canyon. In the morning, it is cooler creating a smoother ride than the rest of the day, plus cooler temperatures also help those with motion sickness. The weather tends to stay nice during the morning hours. Chances of storms and haze are lower in the morning.
Compared to the higher-speed airplane tours of the canyon, in a helicopter, you will get a slower experience. Moving slower also means less turbulence creating a more enjoyable flight.
If you are looking for great views, a smoother ride, and cooler temperatures, consider booking a morning tour.
Grand Canyon Heli Daytime Tours
In general, there are no bad times of day to view the Grand Canyon. However, when planning your trip, there are some factors to consider if going during the day. Daytime flights are typically the least popular for three main reasons: turbulence, temperature, and the possibility of haze and thunderstorms.
- Turbulence: As the day gets hotter, there will be more turbulence. The turbulence is safe and does not change your views. However, if you are trying to get great photos, it could be a little tricky with the bumps.
- Temperature: In the summer, flights around the West Rim can reach temperatures over 100 degrees F. Planning ahead, drinking water, wearing loose sun-protective clothing will help. If booking in the summer and you are concerned about heat, consider instead, a morning tour of the West Rim or a South Rim tour. The South Rim has cooler temperatures in the summer because of its high elevation. However, in the winter the South Rim can become freezing cold and even snow.
- Haze & Thunderstorms: Haze builds up through the day. It reduces visibility and restricts views of the park. In the afternoon during the summer months, thunderstorms often build up. Your pilots will keep you safe and clear from them. They pass by quickly, but it could delay your flight. It is rare for them to cancel the flight because of storms.
Flying over the Grand Canyon will be a beautiful experience any time of day. The daytime flights are least popular for the potential of thunderstorms, turbulence, higher heat, and lesser colors. Morning and evening flights book up the quickest.
To maximize your experience, follow these top pieces of advice from experienced Grand Canyon tour companies, pilots, and visitors.
- Bring loose, sun-protective clothing in the summer months. It can get scorching around the West Rim in the summer, especially during daytime flights.
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water beforehand. Staying hydrated will help avoid motion sickness and keep you energized for exploring.
- Bring a sweet and salty snack.
- Sunscreen! Minimum SPF 30. The sun is no joke, don't spoil a great vacation with a sunburn.
- Wear close-toed, sturdy shoes. Save the fancy shoes for later and bring along your best exploring shoes.
- Check your camera gear. Bring extra batteries and lenses. The views will be stunning, not a good time for your camera to fail.
These pieces of advice also work for morning and evening flights.
Grand Canyon Heli Sunset Tours
Experiencing the canyon at sunset will be memorable and dramatic. The dark sunset colors will light up the rocks of the canyon. The canyon shows vibrant reds, oranges, and browns, and sometimes blues. The view out of a helicopter provides a look at the canyon you will never get from the ground. You can take in its full size and glory. The colors are more pronounced and you get the feeling of a bird with complete freedom to explore the world.
The temperature cools as the sun sets. However, there will still be more turbulence than in the morning.
If you are looking for a romantic tour or want to experience the full range of colors, an evening flight tour is the best choice.
These flights book fast, so make sure to plan your trip well in advance if you choose an evening tour.
Where and Tips
Tips For All Times of Day
Your Grand Canyon tour will be an experience you will never forget. If you are worried about turbulence or want to see the best colors, consider morning or evening flights. Just remember to book them in advance, they go quick.
Remember the list of items to bring, stay hydrated, and apply sunscreen. Any time of day you choose will be fantastic. Enjoy the beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon.