Travel Diary | Flying to the Grand Canyon in a helicopter!
10th December 2019
I always knew that if I ever visited Las Vegas that I would have to make a trip to the Grand Canyon.
Long-time readers may remember that I studied geography at university, and geology and geomorphology was a big part of my degree. And ever since then I’ve been dying to visit the Grand Canyon.
Now, there are a few ways to get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. You can hire a car and drive there yourself, or you can go on a bus trip. But driving to the Grand Canyon from Vegas can take about 4 to 5 hours.
So the other option you have if you fly there in a helicopter, and that’s exactly what we did.
Flying to the Grand Canyon in a helicopter is definitely not the cheapest way to visit it, but I’d argue it’s the best way and it’s certainly something special. It takes just 45 minutes to get to the Grand Canyon by helicopter, plus you get to see it from above and fully appreciate the scale of it.
For us, this was a once in a lifetime experience, and it would be a very special and memorable way to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
We actually booked our helicopter flight through Virgin Holidays when we booked the rest of the trip, and as we didn’t get a break down of the costs I can’t tell you exactly how much it cost. However, for full transparency, it was around £250 each, plus the tax we had to pay before the flight which was around £100 each.
Yes, that’s expensive. I know, we could have basically bought another holiday with what we paid for the helicopter flight. But I don’t regret it because, as I say, it’s was a once in a lifetime experience that we’ll probably never do again, and it was just so special. And of course, how often do you get to celebrate a 10-year strong relationship?!
Our flight was with a company called Maverick, and they offer a variety of helicopter flights to the Grand Canyon to choose from. Some land at the top of the Grand Canyon and some land inside. We decided that we wanted to land inside the Grand Canyon, and Maverick actually have their own private landing spots inside of the Canyon.
When you book the helicopter flight you have to let them know how much you weigh so they can figure out the best arrangement for people in the helicopter, and you have to ring up the company 72 hours before your flight to once again confirm your weight.
As a part of the cost of the helicopter flight, Maverick will come and pick you up from your hotel in Las Vegas and take you to the airport, so when you call them up to confirm your weights they will also let you know where they’ll pick you up from and what time.
We got picked up quite early in the morning (about 6:45am, I think) and were taken over to the airport where we checked in. If you’re planning on doing this yourself, make sure you have a paper copy of your confirmation; we just had it on our phone and we had to email it to them in the end because they need a copy of this.
When we check-in we have to pay the tax I mentioned before and then we got weighed again. We were then sorted into groups (there was 6 of us altogether on our helicopter) and we met our pilot.
We then walked out on to the airstrip, had our photos taken with the helicopter and our pilot, and had a full safety demonstration before we even got inside the helicopter.
I didn’t feel nervous before the flight despite not being the best flyer, but as soon as we got to the helicopter I started to feel more apprehensive.
We got inside the helicopter, put our seatbelts on and prepared for take-off. I held on to Tyrone’s hand so tightly! We put our headphones on and our pilot started playing us some music. It started off with Joker and the Thief by Wolfmother which is such an epic song and really set the mood.
And then it was time to take off. I was expecting it to be really rough but it was surprisingly smooth. My anxiety wore off quickly and I actually started to enjoy myself.
Our pilot wasn’t just there to fly us but he was also our tour guide and pointed out all the areas of interest. Along the way, we passed the Hoover Dam which was an incredible sight to see.
The playlist for the whole helicopter flight was just so epic. Lots of great rock music like AC/DC and Aerosmith. Both Tyrone and I said after the flight how emotional we had felt while in the air. I’ve no idea why we felt this way but I felt like I was going to cry.
Anyway, 45 minutes later we landed inside the Grand Canyon. We had about 30 to 45 minutes inside the Canyon, and our pilot had bought food and drinks with him, including breakfasts snacks, cakes and some champagne. Of course, we had to have some champagne. I mean, why the hell not?!
We took lots of photos and some of the passengers on our helicopter were kind enough to take some photos of me and Tyrone together. I will treasure these photos forever.
Then it was time to get back on the helicopter and head to our next stop of the day which was the refuelling site not far from the Grand Canyon. Our pilot shuffled our seating around so that every couple would have a chance to sit up front, so this time it was our turn. We then switched around again once had refuelled.
It was then time to head back to the airport and we flew right above the Las Vegas Strip so we could see it from above. It’s hard to appreciate the scale of the hotels when you are on the ground, so it was pretty amazing to fly over them.
I was genuinely sad to land and leave the helicopter behind; I enjoyed the flight so much more than I was expecting. Back at the airport, we had the chance to buy the photo that they had taken before the start of the journey, which we did end up buying as it wasn’t that expensive. We then got back our transfer back to the hotel where we spent the next few hours just trying to process everything we had just seen and experienced.
If you’re thinking about heading to Vegas and taking a trip to the Grand Canyon then I would 100% recommend doing it, no matter how you get there! But if you’re looking to make your trip that little bit more special, then fly there in a helicopter. I promise you, you wouldn’t regret it.
And if you’d like to see more pictures and some videos from our flight, make sure you check out my Grand Canyon highlight over on Instagram.