4-in-1 Helicopter Tour - Bottom, Top, Boat & Skywalk!
Papillon Helicopters' Skywalk and Boat Tour is the king of all West Rim helicopter tours. Do this trip and you can legitimately say you've seen the National Park form top to bottom, inside and out. There's no other tour like it, and, when it's all said and done, this is the trip that changes lives.
This is an all-inclusive air tour, which means it comes with everything including complimentary hotel pick up and drop off at all Las Vegas Strip hotel-resorts, snack bag, tour guide and all fees and permits. In other words, Papillon's taken all the logistical headaches out of the equation and I for one like that a lot.
Flights depart throughout the day, every day of the year, including all major holidays (e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas). Due to the popularity of this trip, I recommend you book it as soon as possible as it sells out frequently from April through November. At the minimum, secure you seats at least three (3) days prior to departure.
Helicopters depart in an easterly direction and will take you directly over Lake Mead, the U.S.' largest manmade reservoir, and the Hoover Dam, which is instrumental in controlling the flow of the mighty Colorado River. Onwards, you'll pass Fortification Hill, an extinct volcano and fly over Grand Wash Cliffs before officially entering Grand Canyon airspace.
It's all drama from here. Right off the bat, the 4,000-foot descent to the bottom of the West Rim kicks in. For me, it's like entering the "Land that Time Forget." In fact, the whole scene is so prehistoric looking that for me I'm always expecting a dinosaur of some type to come bounding out of one of the side canyons. I know this sounds hyperbolic but it's not. Just wait until you do it.
Landing is at one of the makeshift helipads located just 200 yards from the legendary Colorado River. Safely on the ground, a Hualapai Indian host will direct you to a Ramada where your Champagne brunch/lunch awaits.
Papillon lands all its choppers at a private series of helipads, which are located about 150 yards (or less) from the Colorado River. This part of the canyon is located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. This will become instantly noticeable as a Hualapai guide assists you from the aircraft. The tribe, too, operates the boat rides.
The Boat Trip
Speaking of boats...This is a one-of-a-kind float trip. First, you walk along a gentle path to the banks of the Colorado River, whereupon you'll step onto the dock and get settled into one of adventure-grade steel-pontoon watercraft. Your Native American boat guide will motor upstream for about 15 minutes, cut the engines and let the boat drift back to the dock. Pure bliss.
Back on terra firma, you'll be escorted back to your Papillon helicopter for the ascent to the top. I had the good fortune of getting the front seat and let me tell you the views are amazing. I felt like I was starring in a National Geographic documentary or inside my own personal IMAX movie. The one impression that I still carry with me is how epic the canyon's walls are!
On top of the West Rim, you'll transfer to a shuttle bus and make your way to the Grand Canyon Skywalk complex. This trip comes with VIP Skywalk passes, which, at the time of purchase, might mean nothing to you. But at the West Rim, these tickets are as good as gold. Why? Because they let you cut to the front of the line, which, during summer, is long and hot and not recommended.
70 Feet Past the Edge
You get about 2 hours at Grand Canyon West, and you can spend all of that on the glass bridge if you so desire. The great thing about the walkway, which is made out of pure glass panels that cost around $200,000 each, is that it lets you walk 70 feet past the edge! The distance below? About 3,800 feet. Is it worth fighting the vertigo? Absolutely, because views like these rival what you get on an air tour.
This package comes with a souvenir bag that includes bottled water and light snacks like cheese and crackers, sweet and salty trail mix and beef jerky. I re-hydrated and munched my goodies in an area where the Tribe was performing ancestral dances and songs and was completely mesmerized.Some of the native women in the dance troupe must have been 80 years old and yet they moved about like sprites!
West Rim Points of Interest
I urge you to use the remaining time you have to check out all the West Rim has to offer. Key points of interest include Guano Point (also know as the bat cave), Eagle Point and the Indian Cultural Center. Make sure to bring some cash as it comes in handy in the snack bar and the gift shop. Your guide will round up your group and get you back safe and sound to your chopper for the 45-minute ride back to Las Vegas (which, by the way, goes over some of the most pristine Mojave Desert you'll ever see).
Have a grand day,
P.S. I rate the top 3 Grand Canyon helicopter tour companies that fly out of Las Vegas, NV. Click here to see who's my #1 choice. .