Travel & Places Other - Destinations

The U.S. Government Is Shut Down, But Grand Canyon Helicopters Aren"t!

I've been getting a lot of questions on whether Grand Canyon helicopters are still flying despite the shutdown of the American government.
The answer is a resounding "Yes.
" You see, Arizona's South Rim is temporarily closed because it's part of Grand Canyon National Park.
Travelers will be turned back at the South Rim's gates until the American budget crisis is resolved.
Luckily,air tours are still flying.
I say "luckily" because Grand Canyon National Park Airport (where all South Rim helicopter flights take off) happens to be outside the National Park's boundaries.
Also, the government doesn't own the airspace above the Park.
It's business as usual at the West Rim.
Grand Canyon West isn't affected by the government stalemate because it's privately owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe.
In other words, the West Rim isn't part of the National Park.
South Rim Flights Air tours at the South Rim include airplane and helicopter flights.
The plane tour lasts 50 minutes and covers the South Rim, North Rim and everything up to the Park's eastern boundary.
By the time the tour's over, it's covered up to ¾ of the National Park.
There are two versions ofhelicopter tours: a 30-minute flight and a 50-minute version.
I prefer the longer one because it's much more comprehensive and covers everything the plane tour does.
It's more expensive than the plane tour, but the extra money is well spent.
So is the upcharge you'd pay if you choose the deluxe tour, because you'll be flying in the best helicopter for sightseeing - the EcoStar 130.
Flights Out of Vegas Vegas-based travelers are lucky because the West Rim isn't affected by the government stalemate.
That means all West Rim tours are running on their regular schedules, including Grand Canyon helicopters, airplane flights, rafting trips (keep in mind that these stop for the winter in the middle of November) and coach tours.
The only hitch relates to the South Rim - Vegas plane flights and bus tours of the South Rim are shut down until Congress agrees on a budget.
Once the stalemate's over they'll start up again.
Book Direct, With the Right Tour Operator A tour's cancellation policy is always important.
You never know what might come up suddenly.
But it's even more important now, during the government budget crisis.
Don't book your tour through some cut-rate company.
The cancellation policy will probably be full of exclusions and other loopholes.
Instead, buy from a tour operator that offers a full refund if your tour is canceled because of the government shutdown.
If you're not happy about the uncertainty, there's no penalty if you cancel your tour yourself as long as you do it at least 24 hours before your flight.
Because they're so popular, tours on Grand Canyon helicopters have to be booked in advance, but you won't need to worry as long as you book with an operator that offers a favorable cancellation policy.
Conclusion I'm optimistic about a quick resolution, but it's a shame that all American National Parks are currently closed because of the budget dispute.
That being said, almost 90% of all Grand Canyon tours are still running on their regular schedules, including most air tours.
Bus tours (whether from Vegas or Phoenix) and the Vegas plane flights that include a South Rim bus tour are the only tours that are affected.
You can still see the magnificent Grand Canyon, despite the U.
S.
government shutdown!


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