Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour
There are few things that sound more majestic than a Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour. What made our trip even more majestic was the touchdown in the bottom of the canyon along the Colorado River complete with a champagne picnic as the sun set over the canyon walls. Yes, THAT is majestic. On a trip to Las Vegas, this is the quickest, easiest, and possibly most exciting way you could ever explore the grand canyon. We chose to make our departure with Papillon, and it was one of the best decisions we ever made. From working with the Social Media Coordinator to customer service, all the way down to our Pilot- everything was smooth, friendly, professional, and FUN!
All the Options for a Helicopter Tour You Could Possibly Want
Seriously, ALL THE OPTIONS, and not even just helicopter tours! You can take planes, busses, choppers, boat tours- like seriously, the list is endless. Papillon is the world's largest aerial sightseeing company, and it shows. From Las Vegas, there were 9 different tours available, with upgrade options for almost all of them. The prices range from $39 per person to $900 per person, so there is a tour for everyone.
We opted for the Grand Celebration Tour, which will set you back about $304 dollars per person, plus any add-ons you may want. I definitely would recommend opting for a tour that stops in the canyon and allows for you to take photos on the ground because it's just as incredible there as it is in the air. Plus, if you never return to the Grand Canyon, you're going to want to see it up close and personal this time around!
Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour: The Experience
Things in Las Vegas can get a little confusing sometimes. There are what seems like 2o exits and entrances to each hotel, so when you hear hotel pick-up, it may immediately cause a panic. WHICH PICK-UP POINT DO YOU MEAN!?! Thankfully Papillon told us the north entrance (which was still a little confusing to find) and when we got lost the driver called us and talked us through to where we were supposed to be going. After we finally made it to the pick-up point, we hopped on the shuttle to the airway in Boulder City, Nevada.
As soon as you arrive at the airport you are guided into the lobby where they check everyone in. Make sure you have your ID with you, in case they ask! I am also going to warn you now- when you book your tour they ask you for your weight. DO NOT LIE. They will then weigh you at the airport to make sure you are the weight listed on the reservation. The weight balance in the helicopter is extremely important. Make it easier for everyone and tell the truth.
After you check in they send you to another room where you watch a safety speech. Pay attention. Not to scare you, but helicopters have the aerodynamics of a brick. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
If you requested the front seat, they call you up after the safety speech and tell you if it is possible or not. Luckily for us, the weight requirements worked out, and I soon would co-pilot of our chopper! (Terrifying for everyone involved.)
THE FLIGHT THERE
AND IT IS TAKE OFF TIME!! The takeoff is a little unnerving, I won't lie. There is something totally unsettling about being 2 feet off the ground and being able to see it pass underneath you, but once we were up in the air, it was smooth sailing. Or err, flying I should say! The way there you fly over Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and some gorgeous mountains. Before you know it you are reaching the Colorado Plateau. It stretches into four states and within the southwest rim lies part of the Grand Canyon. This is where you Grand Canyon Helicopter tour lands by the Colorado River.
IN THE CANYON
Once you have reached the Canyon there is a descent down, where you land onto a plateau overlooking the Colorado River. This is easily the best part of the Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour. The views are absolutely stunning! If you opt for the sunset cruise, you will have stunning lighting and a light breeze that makes the whole experience extremely pleasant. Your picnic includes a glass of champagne, a sandwich, Pringles, and cookies! After about 30 minutes of exploring in the canyon, it is time to take off again!
THE FLIGHT HOME
Another wobbled takeoff and we are flying up and above in the Grand Canyon Helicopter with the sun starting to set below the horizon. Golds, reds, and oranges filled the amazing desert, resulting in hues I could never hope to see again. The cabin filled with a beautiful glow, and as golden hour descended upon us, so did silence as we took in the immaculate landscape surrounding us.
As the sun dipped below the mountains, the oranges became purples, the reds became indigo, and the golds became darkening shades of blue. We touched down at the airport again. Thrilled and exhausted from our trip.
Things to Remember for your Helicopter Tour
The helicopter industry is largely dependent on weather. If winds are high they may cancel and reschedule your excursion. In case this happens, I recommend checking the weather and picking a day where the winds seem to be low. (I would venture anything under 15 knots you would be perfect.) Or if you are unsure about that, book your tour earlier in your vacation so if there is a need to reschedule, you have some wiggle room.
Remember you are in a desert. Arrive hydrated, and use the restroom before you get on the heli.
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER!! I can never stress this enough when it comes to travel, but dress in layers. Instead of just a dress, I opted to throw a kimono on last minute in case the wind chilled me. I was really glad I had it too! It was hot in the chopper when we first got in, but I may have been a little cool in the Canyon had I not had it. If you are traveling during winter, I would wear full winter clothes. It's cold out there!
Wear sensible shoes. I wore sandals with plenty of grip and good for walking. The Papillon website recommends closed toed shoes. I was fine in sandals, but I definitely wouldn't recommend wearing your best stilettos.
Did I miss anything? Let me know if you have any other questions about our Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour using the contact form below!! If you found this article useful, please don't forget to leave it a comment! Thanks for reading!
***Even though Andrew and I were guests of Papillon Airways, all accounts are true to our experience with the excursion. This article contains honest remarks about our adventure. Please feel free to contact me using the form below if you have any questions.***