Las Vegas: Helicopter Tour to the Grand Canyon

I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon before this trip, and I still don’t really feel as though I have seen enough of it. It’s this amazing span of nearly otherworldly rock and land that I’ve really only gotten to see a sliver of, and the experience of seeing it from above is nearly indescribable (which makes it especially good that I got a few pictures while we were there – even though I almost didn’t.)

Pictures are really important to me because they serve as my memory a lot of the time (much like blogging does). I like sharing them with others, I like using them as props in conversation, taking photos focuses my experience and allows me the opportunity to look back and see some of the details my eyes might have missed the first time around.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

So when we arrived at the helicopter port, checked in for our mid-morning flight and I realized I had forgotten my camera battery in it’s charger at the hotel, I got a little dramatic. I started considering running across the highway to the nearest Fry’s Electronics (which really is right across the street.) Luckily, my very reasonable fiance both calmed me down, and reminded me that we had two perfectly good cellphones, and they’d still take pictures, even if they weren’t high resolution ones. MeShell drama managed (Thanks JC!)

They put us all in groups of six – the amount of people that can fit on one of their EC-130 helicopters, and we ended up with the most captainy/piloty looking helicopter pilot out of all of them. A tall man, with wide shoulders, and salt and pepper hair. And of course a bit of a beard.

Our Helicopter Pilot

Our pilot and guide told us a bit about each area we came across it overhead, small disconnected towns/retirement communities, and old mining areas. There were also wild cows and horses roaming the dark red earth.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour


After flying around for what seemed like a combination of forever and not long enough, we landed on an elevated area near the Colorado River for snacks and a break. The day before I contacted the tour company to find out what the snacks would be (of course), and they were very helpful.

On the ground in the Grand Canyon

We brought a long cactus jerky for the fun of it, and then ate it while a cactus was nearby. Made me wonder if people ever get weirded out eating animal products while on animal farms? I guess I’ve never had problems with eating apples in orchards, but cacti are awfully anthropomorphic.

IMG_6636 Because I couldn’t possibly go to the Grand Canyon and not take pictures of my food right? This was something we found at the Whole Foods in Las Vegas – from Cactus Jerky Inc. and made in California.

red shoes beside the Colorado River

As we stood around (me in my now beat up well used red Vegetarian Shoes from MooShoes), listening to nothing but the sound of nature around us, it was the first near quiet I’ve felt and heard in a while. And I liked it. I really really liked it. I think it’s inspired me to find more places in Ontario to find slivers of quiet.

But eventually it was time to leave. This is a video of us mid-take off from the landing site. I’m no videographer, so it’s a little shaky (sorry folks with motion sickness), but I keep looking back at this and “feeling” the changes in elevation.

We also crossed over downtown Las Vegas, over top of the Freemont Street Experience. In this picture you can see the 4 blocks of the LED barrel vault canopy where they have light and sound shows in the evening.

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour

And finally we went near the Las Vegas Strip, and headed back to the heliport. It’s not inexpensive, but if you have the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon, on helicopter or otherwise, I’d do it at least once. I’m really glad we opted to go for it, and I think it’s an experience I’ll probably remember with or without photos (though I’m happy to have them!)

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For more pictures please visit the Album on Flickr

Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon? What was your favourite part of the experience?

4 Responses

  1. What an exciting ride! I’ve never been on a helicopter, lucky you!!! And I feel you, I also forgot my damn camera battery whilst traveling in New Zealand & Taiwan for 2 weeks. Instead, I relied on my big, heavy DSLR camera (I hate carrying it with me!) Beautiful shots and cool video! I have tried the cactus jerky (reviewed a variety of them on my blog) and the spicy one was pretty good.

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