Seeing the Grand Canyon in person is something, but seeing it while flying in a helicopter is another! A day trip from Las Vegas was one of the coolest, adrenaline-rush things we did during our 2 week US road trip through Arizona and Nevada. The lively city provides many helicopter tours for adventurous tourists wanting to see the city from above, but also to the Grand Canyon National Park.
A surprise tour planned by my partner meant that we were up at 07:00am for a helicopter tour through the Grand Canyon! I was expecting something big as my partner was nervous which never happens! I found out what the surprise was when the mini bus that came to pick us up at our Excalibur hotel showed a massive helicopter tour advertisement photo on the side of it.
The 25 minute drive took us south on the highway to Boulder City. Here we arrived at the small local airport, with our passports in hand and took the weight checks for the staff to plan the seating positions. Since my partner is a tall Dutchie and I’m pretty small (both at a healthy weight) we were super excited to hear we would be sitting in the front of the helicopter next to the pilot! How awesome is that!!
We felt a little bad for the other two couples who were in the same helicopter, as we climbed up in the front seat with no extra charge. Even though they were sat behind sharing the 4 row seat, but we think they enjoyed a decent view out the side. For some other tours we saw afterwards, you can pay extra to sit in the front, totally worth it!
Even though it was a surprise for me, this was pretty special for us both – as we had never been in a helicopter before! What would it feel like? Would we get motion sickness or freak out by the height? Why are there so many buttons!? it sure was interesting watching the pilot fly us!
We were more excited than frightened, and so with the blades increasing speed we were all strapped in and ready to fly. We were expecting to feel like it was a bit of a rollercoaster taking fast movements going up, to left and right. The adrenaline took over and we had full smiles on our face, camera in hand and headphones on tightly for audio and sound cancellation.
Easily losing track of time, we were within 8-12 minutes already flying into the west side helicopter flight path of the impressive Grand Canyon. There was an audio track we listened throughout the trip that pointed out and informed us of the locations below, such as when we flew over the Hoover Dam (also awesome to see from above!) and Lake Mead.
Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
Above Hoover Dam we had heard a short description and plenty of time to take some pics, but we had learn’t much more when we stopped there with the car. We made a separate post that you can read more about our stop here! (ADD LINK)
As for Lake Mead, it was very interesting to see far from above the merging of the two rivers into the lake. One was extreamely dirty so it was easy to see the water flow. From here we lost sight of the Colorado River as we headed over the mountains.
The Grand Canyon
From here we had to fly over some mountains which caused some turbulence, but it was very mild compared to what the pilot shared with us about other times he had flown over that point. It was a little shaky but we were glad that we didn’t eat a big breakfast (just in case)!
Once over the mountains we could see very clearly the edge of the Grand Canyon, and WOW it looked big! It’s pretty hard to show the distance and depth from a photo and it’s a place well worth seeing in person. The pilot took us lower to the ridge as we whizzed along making some curving movements left and right to capture the Colorado River and to follow the safe flightpath journey to the landing area on the West Rim.
It wasn’t long until we were already landing at the West Rim location where there was a local souvenir store and a place to eat. Here you could also walk out to the rim edge but this wasn’t included in our helicopter tour (though it was a possibility if you want that) and we didn’t mind not walking out on the edge as we were pretty blown away by the flight!
Flying back to Boulder City, it felt a lot faster as we took a more direct flight path route back rather than through the canyon again. We saw a little of the desert below us, with some brave soles also living completely off grid below us, compared to the lively Las Vegas we could see in the distance.
My surprise trip was a blast! We have always wanted to experience a helicopter ride but to do it in combination to see the Grand Canyon was amazing. I’d highly recommend taking a tour like this during your stay in the area! As there are many companies you can book with, you wont need to book in advance unless your strapped for time. From experience, my partner had booked the previous day and had to just confirm the night before for our 7:00am start with the mini bus!
- Check your camera battery incase it’s low!
- Can take a small bag with you during the flight (it will be placed in back of helicopter during flight)
- Front seat is so worth the extra money if you have the choice!
- Ask questions! Your pilot has a lot of knowledge of the area.
- Dare to go out of your comfort zone!
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Have you taken a Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour? What did you think? We’d love to hear your stories!
You can see our whole 2 week road trip itinerary here!