From helicopter rides to white-water rafting, some of the best Grand Canyon views require you to get off the ground.
Red rock gorges, sandstone fires, jagged slopes, and plummeting cliffs—the Grand Canyon is striking from just about every angle. Here are some ways to get off the rim and see this natural wonder from above or below for the most spectacular views.
Couple arrives by helicopter for dinner at the Grand Canyon's West Rim. Photo: Viator
Due to the sheer size and scope of the Grand Canyon, the best views undoubtedly come from the sky. Helicopter tours typically depart from Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon itself and can be packaged with other experiences, like a picnic or walking tour on the West Rim, a below-the-rim landing, or a Colorado River boat ride.
Grand Canyon flightseeing airplane readies for takeoff at sunset. Photo: Viator
To get to the Grand Canyon in style (and enjoy some bird's-eye views along the way), hop aboard an flightseeing airplane for a day of sightseeing around the South Rim, North Rim, or West Rim. Alternately, take an hour-long flightseeing tour of the desert, with panoramic views of the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the Colorado River.
Tourists walk out onto the Skywalk at Eagle Point. Photo: Anthony Cruz / Viator
For travelers on a budget, one of the most economical ways to gaze directly down into the canyon is on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass-bottomed, horseshoe-shaped bridge extending 70 feet out over the edge of the West Rim. Admission to the Skywalk is typically available as an upgrade on Grand Canyon tours.
Group white-water rafting on the Colorado River. Photo: Lets Go Grand Canyon Tours
The Grand Canyon is undeniably beautiful from above, but to get a sense for how deep it really is, you need to see it from the bottom. Thrill-seekers can take on 40 miles of varied rapids along the mighty Colorado River during a white-water rafting tour through the Grand Canyon, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way.
Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.