Helicopter tours in the Grand Canyon National Park are the ultimate southwestern adventure, and one of the best ways to explore this phenomenal natural wonder.
Imagine hovering over deep gorges with the Colorado River glinting in the sun, as it snakes through the land. Views of the Grand Canyon don’t come any better than this!
In this post, we’ve rounded up all the facts to help you arrange your own epic Grand Canyon helicopter ride.
Your day begins with a transfer (you need to arrange this yourself) to the Grand Canyon National Park Airport on the South Rim. You get a short briefing before climbing on board the helicopter, ready for an adventure of epic proportions.
Helicopter rides at the Grand Canyon vary in length, but expect to spend between 30 and 50 minutes in the sky, as you fly between the South and North Rims. Wraparound windows offer superb views in all directions, so keep your camera poised.
Highlights include flying over the Kaibab National Forest and having front row seats to the panoramas of the eastern end of the canyon. Many tours hover over the Colorado before following the river upstream for vistas of the Painted Desert, Marble Canyon and the Desert View Watch Tower.
Your flight will return to the airport at the end of your tour, then you have time to explore independently.
If you want to up the adventure on your helicopter trip, then opt for one that offers a Hummer ride. These excursions also begin at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport with a helicopter flight over the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular features on this flight include the Dragon Corridor (the deepest part of the canyon) and Imperial Point (the highest viewpoint on the North Rim).
After your flight, clamber on board the Hummer for a two-hour tour along the South Rim. You can stop for photos at multiple overlooks, including Moran Point and Grandview Point. Your guide will point out key features and give you an insight into the geology and wildlife of the national park.
The tour will end where it started, at the airport.
Some Grand Canyon helicopter excursions include a river trip on a pontoon boat, giving you the chance to see the dramatic geology from all angles. These trips begin at the West Rim Aeroport with a helicopter flight down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. You will land beside the Colorado and enjoy a stroll along the river.
Next up is the 20-minute boat ride which takes you up close to the cliffs that have made the canyon so famous. It’s a leisurely float with lots of opportunities for photos. After the boat tour, head back to the helicopter for the return flight to the West Rim. Once you’re up at the top again, you can take a walk to Eagle Point and Guano Point for more spectacular views.
The final part of the tour is an optional visit to the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This glass bridge is suspended over the canyon with 360-degree views out over the national park. When you’ve had your fill of thrills, there’s time for lunch at one of the onsite restaurants which can also be included in your excursion.
Helicopter tours in the Grand Canyon National Park can be quite pricey, but this once-in-a-lifetime experience is worth every cent. Prices vary according to flight time and whether other activities are included.
All these tours are on a small group basis. If you prefer a private excursion, you just need to purchase all the seats (usually six) on the helicopter.
Most tour fees only include the Grand Canyon helicopter flights, which means you need to make your own way to the starting point, as mentioned below. You can enjoy in-flight narration from your pilot during the trip.
For excursions that feature Hummer rides, as well as the helicopter flight, a driver/guide and entrance fee to the Grand National Park are included.
On the helicopter tours that also include a pontoon boat ride, access to the national park and the Grand Canyon Skywalk is provided. An onsite lunch is also part of the deal.
The launching point for the majority of tours, including those with Hummer rides, is the helicopter terminal at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport. You can find this just south of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim.
Helicopter tours in the Grand Canyon National Park that include the pontoon boat ride depart from the Aeroport at the West Rim.
You should arrive at the helicopter terminal at least half an hour before your flight.
Most helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon last between 25 and 50 minutes, which is plenty of time in the air to soak up those views.
For tours with Hummer rides and boat trips, you should factor a couple of extra hours into your schedule.
Grand Canyon helicopter flights operate all year round and throughout the day. Spring and summer offer the best weather, but these are the busiest times so make sure you book ahead.
Rides are smoother during the morning, as this is when conditions are more settled with less turbulence than later in the day. Thunderstorms are a regular occurrence on summer afternoons!
Temperatures are lower in the mornings too, which means reduced haze and better views, thanks to the increased visibility.
After flying over the canyon by helicopter, enjoy a Hummer tour for a close look at the stunning geology. You can choose a daytime or evening ride, with the latter offering splendid sunset views.
From your comfortable seat, spot iconic rock formations, dramatic gorges and maybe even some native wildlife.
Experience the canyon from two unique angles – from the sky and the water. First up is the helicopter tour from the West Rim of the Grand Canyon for a bird’s-eye view of the escarpment. You’ll land down on the canyon floor and stroll along the Colorado River before enjoying a ride on the pontoon boat.
After the river trip, the helicopter will transfer you back to the rim where you can enjoy the views from Eagle Point and Guano Point.
Yes, helicopter rides at the Grand Canyon are a safe way to explore. The main risk is the weather, and, if conditions are unsuitable, flights will be postponed.
Anyone who suffers from vertigo or has a serious preexisting health condition should consult their doctor for advice before flying.
Absolutely! Most helicopter tours in the Grand Canyon National Park allow children of all ages on board, and it’s a great family experience. Infants under 2 years old are often free, and must sit on the lap of an adult.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
Grand Canyon helicopter rides are weather dependent, but as the sun is often shining in this part of the country, cancellations are rare.
If your tour is canceled due to inclement weather, you will be offered an alternative date or a full refund.