Las Vegas Helicopter Tours Into and Beyond the Neon
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters has been taking passengers into the skies of Las Vegas and beyond since 1965. It has a terminal right off the Las Vegas Strip with a comfortable waiting lounge and a backyard pad active with the constant comings and goings of rotorcrafts all day and night. The company is popular for its variety of Grand Canyon tours that take in the West and South rims, visit the glass Skywalk over the canyon and head to scenic spots in the surrounding deserts for celebrations and meals, but its Las Vegas helicopter tour of the Strip neon is possibly its most popular. The classic tour last 20 minutes, flies from the Luxor pyramid and Eiffel Tour, through the marvel of CityCenter and down the Strip past the towers of Caesars, the waters of Bellagio and the reflective monoliths of Wynn to the Stratosphere and back, hovering here and there for added riveting perspectives. The tour is priced starting at $64 a person. (888-635-7272, www.papillon.com).
Another Las Vegas helicopter tour company is Maverick Helicopters. The company flies ECO-star helicopters outfitted with wraparound glass and a sky-cam video system should passengers want to relive the moment on a 2-D screen. The cabins offer more space than standard helicopters in what the company notes as quieter comfort. Seats are theater-style and front facing, upholstered in upgraded leather and hold direct window views. The company runs its own Las Vegas neon tours that last 10-15 minutes for $104 per person. Or choose the Twilight Wedding Package – a 90-minute Las Vegas experience for $1,799. (888-261-4414, www.maverickhelicopter.com).
Most Las Vegas helicopter tour companies also offer trips to the Grand Canyon and hills over Hoover Dam. The trips tend to run four and five hours, include time on the ground and lunch. They also prove to be the most intimate way of experiencing the desert and one of the seven natural wonders of the world without the hassle and time it takes to drive. The closest of the Grand Canyon rims to Las Vegas is the West Rim – easily a four-hour drive without traffic. Some tours actually land in the canyon, a land-owned by Native American tribe holdings and requiring special permissions. The impressive glass Skywalk at the western rim visitor center does give guests a taste of the grandeur, however.
Sundance Helicopters is one of several Las Vegas helicopter tour companies that offer trips to the Canyon. A Grand Canyon Sunset Tour runs 3.5 hours and, for the $459 per person price, provides complimentary stretch limo hotel pickup and drop-off plus a champagne picnic served in individual baskets and enjoyed at a private landing site 3,200 feet below the rim deep inside the canyon. On route, the helicopter hovers over Hoover Dam for a birds-eye view of the on the seven man made wonders of the modern world experienced in the grand hues of the setting sun. On return to Las Vegas, the tour does make a leisurely pass over the lights of the Las Vegas Strip and the Fremont Street Experience. The cabins hold up to six passengers. (800-653-1881, www.sundancehelicopters.com).
HeliUSA takes the classic Las Vegas helicopter tour one notch farther with champagne and a creative outlay of add-ons. For instance, the Luxury VIP Helicopter Night Flight Tour for $99 begins with a glass of champagne before boarding the outfitted A-Star jet helicopter. It offers an overnight getaway to the Grand Canyons with a stay at Grand Canyon Ranch. Guests get chauffeured around in an authentic horse-drawn wagon through the Joshua Tree forest, take a guided Sunset Buffalo Safari by horseback or horse-drawn wagon, visit Buffalo Point to view wild buffalo in their natural environment, partake in a champagne welcome drink before having a romantic candlelight dinner in the ranch house and enjoy an after dinner campfire serenaded by a cowboy balladeer. The next morning starts with a hearty ranch breakfast before boarding the helicopter to Las Vegas and concluding with a flight down the Las Vegas Strip. Pricing starts at $550 per person for adults and $450 per person for children, including fees. (702-736-8787, www.heliusa.com)