A Bucket List Journey From the Las Vegas Strip into the Grand Canyon
My family has always wanted to see the Grand Canyon and we were looking for some fun things to do in Las Vegas with kids. After driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas a couple of days ago, sitting in a car most of the day to get back and forth from the Grand Canyon was not an appealing idea. We decided to look into taking a Grand Canyon helicopter tour and started browsing the tour companies and making calls. There were a lot of sites offering Grand Canyon helicopter tours, but most were third parties selling these tours for the same couple of actual helicopter tour companies. After many calls we went with Sundance Helicopters. We chose the Grand Canyon helicopter tour package that actually lands in the Grand Canyon instead of the ones that just fly over it.
Leaving Las Vegas in Style
Part of the package includes transportation from your hotel to the helicopter tour company. We were picked up at our Las Vegas strip hotel in a very nice stretched limo. I am not sure if this is true for all that are picked up by the tour company, but we were the only ones being transported for our limousine ride. The limo was very nice and just like any other you would take to a special event. If your kids have never been in a limousine, they will sure get a kick out of riding to and from the tour company. We had a short but fun drive to the McCarran International Airport which is where the helicopters tours leave from.
Once we were dropped off at the Grand Canyon helicopter tour company, we waited for our flight inside their comfortable and air conditioned pre-flight lounge. After a short wait we were put into groups for our flight and made our way out to the helicopters. The pilot will tell you where to sit on your flight as they need to balance the weight of the helicopter for your flight. When you get in to the helicopter you fasten in and put on your headset. This allows you to hear and talk to the pilot during the flight as the helicopter is semi loud. Once the pilot goes through his checklist, he fires up the helicopter and off we all go. It was a really cool sight seeing all of the helicopter taking off together.
This was our first time riding in a helicopter and it was a very thrilling experience. First off you are surrounded by big windows that give you a great view of everything as opposed to those tiny windows in an airplane. Second is the freedom of flying in any direction and the coolest was the banked turns (might not be fun for those with motion sickness). Lastly, you are not flying at the amazing heights of a plane, so everything you see is pretty detailed.
Flying Over the Hoover Dam and Nevada Desert
As we flew out of the airport we headed over the city of Las Vegas and into the desert. Our pilot would point interesting things out as we made our way through the desert. Our first sight was flying over the blue waters of Las Vegas Bay which was beautifully contrasted by the mountains and desert surrounding it.
Our next “stop” was the Hoover Dam which was quite impressive. Our pilot got us reasonably low and we were able to get a good look at it in various angles, which I am sure is much different than seeing it on the ground. Since you are on a certain side of the helicopter, once in a while you might not be in the best angle to see stuff, but the pilot changes angles and sides enough that you don’t miss anything. After about what seemed like 5 minutes we left the dam and headed towards the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour Touches Down
Once we left the Hoover Dam it was a nice flight over the desert and portions of the Colorado River. The desert slowly starts to give way to the beginnings of the outskirts of the Grand Canyon. After a short flight in following the river, our helicopter is surrounded by the Grand Canyon walls on each side. It was a breathtaking flight through the canyons.
Our Grand Canyon helicopter tour package included a lunch in the canyon. Our helicopter and one other landed at a private plateau of the Grand Canyon about 3,500 feet below the canyon rim with views overlooking the Colorado River.
After landing we all exited the helicopters and there was a pair of picnic tables where the pilots set up our picnic lunches and some drinks for our tour group. We just had a quick bite of our lunches so we could spend some extra time walking around and exploring the Grand Canyon.
Our landing site at the base of the Grand Canyon was a flat plateau that was a bit bigger that football field. The south and east parts ran into the massive canyon walls and the north and west parts overlooked the Colorado river and a fork of the carved out canyons.
The area was very quiet and peaceful while the views were very beautiful and dreamlike. We explored a little bit toward the canyon walls but spent most of our time walking around the rocks and overlooks of the river and the canyon walls that were carved out over time.
After our time at the landing site was up, we all loaded back up into the helicopters for our return flight. Our pilot had us all move our seats around, so that the passengers that were in the back of the helicopter on the flight to the Grand Canyon got a front seat for the return flight.
The take off from the Grand Canyon landing site was my favorite part of being in the helicopters. As our helicopter took off, there was the beauty of the canyons and the river combined with the exhilaration of the banked turn upon our take off. We spent another 10 minutes or so flying through the canyons in a different direction than the one we came in on, so everything was a new sight to take in.
Over the Vegas Strip and Heading Home
The last leg of our Grand Canyon helicopter tour was the flight back over the desert and to the Las Vegas Strip. As we flew over the desert on the way back our pilots flew fast and low over the dry flatland and higher and slower over the beautiful waters and mountains. It was definitely an exciting flight both ways and the passengers were all smiles.
After the flight over the desert we hit the city of Las Vegas. For our flight over Las Vegas our pilot started our helicopter flight path in Downtown Las Vegas and then along the Las Vegas Strip approaching from the north portion of the strip. Although not as amazing as flying through a natural wonder of the world, the flight down the Las Vegas strip was still pretty awesome. The helicopter flies on the west side of the strip so you won’t see the front side of all of the sights but you still get a good aerial view of everything. After buzzing down the strip we came in for a landing at the airport to complete our Grand Canyon tour.
Click the above images to view 18 more photos/videos of our Grand Canyon family adventure.
Our Grand Canyon helicopter tour was one of the best Las Vegas bucket list experiences we have had as it offers aerial and ground views of this natural wonder. Yeah, it was on the expensive side, but we felt it was worth every penny for the experience we had.
For more fun and exciting activities you and the kids can enjoy while in Las Vegas, see our Things to Do with Kids in Las Vegas article or visit our Las Vegas with Kids travel guide for more family friendly activities, restaurants, hotels and travel tips. You can visit Sundance Helicopters’ website to find out more tour information or to book your own tour.