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Our Helicopter Ride over the Grand Canyon with Papillon @iflypapillon

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor May 21st, 2016 Posted in North America Travel Blog, Organized Tours, Travel Blog 22 Comments

We traveled to the Grand Canyon both by air, and by land.  We’ll share some of the benefits of both.  For details on our land-based excursion experience, you can read it here. There are a few ways to make your Grand Canyon experience exceptional like:

  • DIY and pay the entrance fees and navigate the park by yourself by car or campervan.
  • Guided land tour, Pink Jeep Tours.  Relax and let a professional guide you.  Relax on the edge, have lunch and take in the grandeur.
  • Helicopter ride with Papillon.  See the Grand Canyon from an entirely exclusive and unique perspective few have seen.

The Helicopter Ride over the Grand Canyon

We were fortunate enough to fly with Papillon an exclusive charter company with 48 aircraft in their fleet.  They run the airport terminal in Boulder City and it’s a first class experience. They are professional, accommodating, and have a great sense of humor and it’s evident everyone working there loves their jobs. 

AS350 Helicopter
AS350 Helicopter

Papillon is the world’s oldest and largest sightseeing company, offering over forty unique adventure excursions and specializing in the Grand Canyon experience overall.  The views and experiences on our trip left us breathless, and created memories that will no doubt be unforgettable.

Getting There

Getting to the airport is also a painless task. All that we had to do is walk right outside our hotel and the Papillon tour bus was there waiting for us to hop on and head out. The bus took us on a scenic drive outside the strip and offered a unique view of Las Vegas.  We traveled to the north end of the city and ultimately to the Boulder City airport. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the staff at Papillon. After we were checked in we took a brief tour of the beautiful and scenic facility.  Surrounded by beautiful glass windows, we were able to see up close the fleet of planes and helicopters. We felt like VIPs waiting for our pilot to arrive and tell us to step board. The Golden Eagle Air Tour was definitely an activity that you should experience!

Boulder City Papillon Terminal
Boulder City Papillon Terminal

Arriving at the Local Airport

We took off from the boulder city terminal which was amazing.  There’s plenty of refreshments, snacks and souvenirs to browse and purchase while you endure a short wait for your flight.  When our names were called we met our pilot, who had a great sense of humor, and ushered us to the chopper after pleasantries.  When we got the the helicopter, we were amazed because it’s all glass.  You can easily see 360 degrees and it feels like your in a bubble that flies.  Kalon has been in a few helicopters mostly for skydiving, but the AS350 was the nicest he said he’s ever seen. 

Kalon and Serena selfie Papillion Helecopter ride
Kalon and Serena selfie Papillion Helecopter ride

The Grand Canyon Experience ride

This is my first helicopter ride, and it didn’t disappoint.  There were Bose headsets that cancel out any ambient noise, and we talked amongst the passengers and pilot while listening to background tunes.  Luckily the pilot had good taste in music and played some classic rock, which set the mood nicely.  There were also too many perfect selfie moments in the helicopter we couldn’t resist.

The take-off was almost as fun as the Grand Canyon itself.  We accelerated to over 100 knots just feet off the ground, it was so exciting being a passenger on this incredible aircraft.  As you watch all the desert cactuses zip by lifting off the ground, your stomach can’t help but jump with excitement.  I never felt scared for a single second, the pilots are truly professionals and make the ride exciting, but offer a feeling of security.

Kalon taking in the views on the Golden Eagle Tour
Kalon taking in the views on the Golden Eagle Tour

Though Papillon offers many tours, we enjoyed the Golden Eagle Air Tour.   Another unique point about the helicopter tour is that you get the opportunity to see the Grand Canyon from above, obviously, but both sides too.  The ground view is stunning, don’t get me wrong, but there’s something just brilliant about soaring above one of the most massive natural features on earth.  The simple fact of being able to be flown through this magnificent feature spells nothing short of bold, and unique. 

Endless Views on the Golden Eagle Tour
Endless Views on the Golden Eagle Tour

The Sights and Landscape

While flying in the helicopter, the landscape that we flew over was amazing as far as the eye can see.  Color gradients, rock formations, the Colorado River, and the Hoover dam are easy to spot from far away.  The first area that we flew over was the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, which really could be a tour in itself. The Hoover Dam was built between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The dam was built on the Arizona-Nevada border.  The primary purpose of the Hoover Dam was to provide consistent and clean water from the Colorado River to promote economic development. From above we were able to really see the size of this incredible structure.  The pilots have a tremendous local knowledge of all landmarks and historical sites, and it added to the experience to hear their commentary as we flew along.

Kalon and Serena in the Glass Cockpit of the Papillon chopper
Kalon and Serena in the Glass Cockpit of the Papillon chopper

Lake mead was a sight to see, the sheer contrast of the aqua water against the dry barren landscape was stunning. Lake Mead is located on the Colorado river, about 24 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. It is the largest man made reservoir in the United States.  The reservoir delivers water to the states of Arizona, Nevada and California, providing nourishment to nearly 20 million people and large areas of agricultural  farmland.  Gazing at the lake from such high above, gave unparalleled perspective into the size, and volume of water that it can hold.  With the birds eye view, the drought situation became even more obvious.  Water marks are clearly visible where the lake used to be when full. 

Over all Experience

In conclusion, seeing the Grand Canyon, really will never disappoint an eager traveler.  How you choose to see and experience can’t lead you wrong.  It’s a matter of choice.  On one hand, driving through the park will definitely offer an incredible, ground level experience that is unique.  However it will take you whole day from early in the morning to late afternoon leaving you pleasantly spent.  On the other hand, a flight will allow you to make the most of a day, and the experience is independently incomparable, unique, intimate, and definitely more exclusive.

If flying in a helicopter is not unique enough for you, then flying through the Grand Canyon will be.  It’s a flight, and experience that people you share it with will not forget. It is worth every penny.  Out of millions of visitors a year to Grand Canyon National Park, only a select view will record it’s sights in their memories from above.  Check out Papillon and see which Grand Canyon experience tour would best suit your group or families needs. 

Where to Stay

We stayed at The D Hotel.  It’s located in the heart of downtown, on Freemont Street. Fremont street itself, is amazing, and a totally different experience than staying on “The Strip”.

Downtown. There they also offers tons of “Non Gambling” activities in addition all it’s people watching amazement.  Try Slotzilla, a zip line ride which is just steps from the The D.  Check out our video of us soaring above all downtown. We would highly recommend checking it out, if nothing else, than for the people watching.  The D has modern decor, and a really upscale feel to it.  It’s well placed, super clean, and puts you in the heart of Downtown,  which is the best place to stay and is well priced to matched, hands down.Enjoying Freemont Street Downtown Vegas at Slotzilla!

SM Monkey Section Dividers

Note: Although all opinions expressed are my own, our Grand Canyon experience was made possible by Papillon.

SM Monkey Section Dividers

Our Helicopter Ride over the Grand Canyon with Papillon

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22 thoughts on “Our Helicopter Ride over the Grand Canyon with Papillon @iflypapillon

  1. I’m glad you pointed out that being in a helicopter is a unique experience since you can easily see 360 degrees. My husband and I will soon be traveling to an area that offers helicopter tours, so I’ve been doing some research into the unique benefits they offer to see if it would be worth the money. I hand’t considered the possibility of seeing 360 degrees, but it sounds amazing! I definitely think we’ll be traveling by helicopter during our upcoming vacation.

  2. Papillon is one of the most popular helicopter companies in Las Vegas, and I also chose Papillon for my Grand Canyon tour. It is awesome to take helicopter to visit Grand Canyon!!

  3. Hi Serena, I would have liked some more pictures of your sortie. The Grand Canyons have always fascinated me with their depth and geometry. Do you live in the United States?

  4. Wow! That view and that experience were amazing! I just don’t think I would have the courage to ride a helicopter and look at that spectacular sight from the air. I’m afraid of heights.

  5. I’d love to do this! Visiting the Grand Canyon is definitely one of my dream trips, and a helicopter ride over it would be perfect!

  6. Wow! What a great and wonderful experience!! Actually I wanna ride on a Chopper maybe soon!! Wee all your photos are amazing

  7. Chopper ride is one of my goals… Flying on a full glass chopper and over grand canyon is definitely epic.

  8. How brilliant! I’ve only been in a helicopter once, in Cape Town – it was fantastic but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try it again!

  9. Wow! What an amazing adventure! I would love to visit the Grand Canyon, and if I am ever lucky enough, I will definitely be doing this!! X

  10. WOW! What a great and amazing way to experience the Grand Canyon! It is on my bucket list of places to visit!

  11. I’m beyond jealous! A helicopter ride and a zip line? I heard about that zip line a few weeks ago, I think iJustine went on it and vlogged, it looks amazing.

    Corinne x

  12. Wow that is so cool! I did the grand canyon in one of these local bus tours. I didn’t even knew there was an option to do it by helicopters! I also didn’t knew about the zip-line. well, maybe next time..:) I should read your blog more often

  13. That looks amazing! I have never been in a helicopter either. In fact, I have never been to the Grand Canyon! That’s a little embarrassing considering I am American. When I go, I think I would like to try this company especially since you recommend it.

  14. Very interesting post ! I’v done an helicopter ride once many years ago when I was a kid. I still remember the feeling, it’s an awesome experience. The sensations are unique. Doing it on top of the grand canyon should be even more impressive and wonderful !

  15. WOW! A helicopter ride. The only time I got close to riding on a helicopter was back when I helped facilitated a diver who needed to be airlifted to a hyperbaric chamber a long time ago. I can only imagine how it looked from up there. But from the photos, I can see it was a thrilling experience!

  16. Aww what I great experience!!! I’d also like to try that! So its the pilot who puts in the music you all hear eh? He’s like a DJ! Cool info


  17. Touring the grand canyon via a helicopter is an experience in itself. I have never rode a helicopter and i just could imagine the beauty of looking down with all the wind and noise enveloping you. It must have been such a great experience.

  18. Ive never been in a helicopter, would love to though and if i was to fly over anything the grand canyon is one of them. You are very lucky to have had such a nice experience.

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