Last Updated: 31st May 2014
by – Alex McCarty, Tour Manager, North America
The main thing you should know about the helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon is this: it definitely must be done. The only question is which one!
Seeing the grandeur of one of Mother Nature’s finest masterpieces from the sky is absolutely the only way to begin to understand just how massive this geologic marvel really is. Without fail, those who do a flight come back grinning ear to ear, saying they would have regretted not doing it, or are simply left speechless. Most Contiki travelers often point to the helicopter flights at the Grand Canyon as the highlight of their holiday.
Flights are offered by one of only two helicopter companies authorized for flights over the canyon, and are located a 7 to 8 minute flight away from the rim of the canyon.
Contiki offers 3 different flights as optional excursions for tours visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The North Canyon flight is not only the least expensive of the three flights, it also provides the shortest flight time. Once you are boarded onto the helicopter according to weight distribution, your pilot will take off and fly you and six fellow travelers over the Kaibab National Forest, listening to inspirational, mood music, snapping photos the entire way, until the Grand Canyon opens up like an abyss more than a mile beneath your feet. You will fly toward the north rim of the canyon before banking tightly to the right in order to head directly back to the heliport, where your flight will end.
The Imperial flight is about $60 more expensive than the North Canyon flight and is dramatically different in that you and your fellow fliers will spend twice as much time flying over the Grand Canyon. Because your pilot flies a longer and more diverse route, you’ll be exposed to more features, colors, caverns and named rock formations, all of which make it a truly amazing sight.
The All Day Heli-Hike Adventure is the ultimate way to experience your limited time at the Grand Canyon. This flight lasts for about 25 minutes, departing the heliport around 10 am and returning around 4 pm.
For most of the time in the air you actually see very little of the canyon itself. But then your pilot begins the descent into the Grand Canyon and in no time, you are surrounded by its rugged walls.
No other flight is authorized to fly into the canyon, but not only that, you will land on the Havasupai Native American reservation, where you will be met by a Havasupai representative who will guide you to the visitor center of this small, self-contained village. Here, you will pay grounds fees directly to the Havasupai (not included in the cost of the flight) and receive a registration card and a map of hiking trails, campgrounds, fresh waterfalls and natural swimming pools, only located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! From there, your day is completely free to explore a land that is a pristine and mostly untouched paradise, like something out of a deserted island, or Jurassic Park.
People return from the All-day Heli-Hike saying their lives have been changed, some have cried, some have said they would do it all over again the next day. It is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience.