Our tips for choosing your tour of the Grand Canyon

If discovering the Grand Canyon on foot, by crossing the south or north shore, is a must when visiting the American West, many people ask themselves the following question: "Is it also worth flying over the Grand Canyon? ?".

To this question everyone who has already had this unique experience will answer : "Go ahead, go ahead, it's great !".

Flying over the Grand Canyon by helicopter or plane will give you an immense pleasure, an intense moment of emotion, a unique opportunity to admire the imposing cliffs of the Grand Canyon and the meanders of Colorado in a different way and to enjoy the vastness of this natural wonder.

Are you convinced ? It only remains to choose the tour that best suits you : company, duration, departure point, options, prices. We explain everything !

From where can we fly over the Grand Canyon ?

A flight over the Grand Canyon can be done from 3 locations.

Tusayan (Grand Canyon South Rim), Arizona

H130 Helicopter in the Grand Canyon

The small town of Tusayan, located a few miles south of Grand Canyon Village and the south shore of the Grand Canyon, has an airport and helipad from which you can take helicopter and airplane flights.

If you want to take in the Grand Canyon's most breathtaking scenery to the fullest, the Grand Canyon South Rim tours are a must, flying over the most spectacular, widest (18 kilometers) and deepest (1600 meters) area of the Grand Canyon, including the Dragon Corridor. Also, the overflight prices from Tosayan are the most attractive !

Las Vegas, Nevada

If you don't have a chance to drive through Grand Canyon National Park during your road trip, or don't have enough time for a flyover, you can make it up while in Las Vegas.

Companies offer helicopter and air tours from Las Vegas International Airport or from Boulder City Airport and Henderson Airport, both quite close to Las Vegas.
These flyovers explore the western part of the Grand Canyon, which is slightly less impressive than the central part, and also allow you to admire Hoover Dam (a huge dam on the Colorado River) and Lake Mead. Some air tours also allow you to reach Grand Canyon West or Grand Canyon South Rim for a ground visit and even land on the banks of Colorado, all the way down in the Grand Canyon, in the Grand Canyon West area.

Grand Canyon West, Arizona

LDhe Hualapai Indian Reservation is located halfway between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon Village, known for the famous Skywalk, a glass bridge over the Grand Canyon, and has a small airport to fly over from.
This is not the easiest option (Grand Canyon West is fairly isolated) or the most economical (you will have to pay for access to the Indian Reservation), but it should be noted that this is the only area where helicopters are allowed to land at the bottom of the canyon.

Helicopter or airplane ?

Hesitate between a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon or a flight by plane ? Here are some objective elements that will help you make a choice.

Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon

The helicopter is the most popular option to explore the Grand Canyon. Each plane can accommodate a pilot and 6 or 7 passengers, depending on the interior configuration.

The helicopter allows you to fly over the heart of the Grand Canyon, which is completely submerged in the canyon and passes relatively close to the walls. You can admire the many details of the cliffs and canyons.

Last but not least, for many people, the helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon offers the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone : discover the Grand Canyon from the air and take their first helicopter ride.

"Classic" or "High-End" Helicopter ?

Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon

Papillon offers several tours, some of them with Bell 206 or 407 helicopters, others with Airbus H130 helicopters.

What are the differences between these two types of helicopters ?

The Bell 206 or 407 are very good helicopters with the necessary comfort that allow you to fully enjoy the show.

Airbus H130 helicopters (also known as Eurocopter EC130 or Eco-Star EC130) are high-end helicopters specially designed for commercial and tourist activities, with ideal characteristics to enjoy the landscape at your disposal :

  • 23% more cabin space,
  • all seats are forward facing and in "cinema" mode so all passengers can enjoy the show,
  • The cabin has large panoramic windows so as not to miss anything and to take the most beautiful pictures,
  • Equipped with a "Fenestron" tail rotor that limits noise and vibrations.

All these advantages have of course a disadvantage : the H130 towers cost 20 to 30% more than the equivalent bell towers.

If you choose a helicopter flight with Maverick or Grand Canyon Helicopters, you will automatically be assigned to a luxury H130 helicopter.

Fly over the Grand Canyon by airplane

Fly over the Grand Canyon by air

Air travel is available from Las Vegas and Tusayan.

Airplane tours are cheaper than helicopter tours because you can fit about 20 people in a plane compared to 6 for the helicopter. Besides, the time in the air is much longer.

The level of comfort is almost identical (comfortable seats, audio guides. ), with even slightly better stability in flight.

The flight is at a much higher altitude than a helicopter, which is a double-edged sword : Sure we have a better view of the vastness of the Grand Canyon, but we take less advantage of the details and don't have the immersive aspect of the helicopter.

All of these elements make air travel somewhat less popular with tourists.

Papillon or Maverick ?

Let's make one thing clear : Papillon and Maverick and their subsidiaries are very serious companies that provide high quality services and attach great importance to customer satisfaction.

Safety is their top priority. Their staff is highly qualified and well trained.

They have the best pilots, each with thousands of flight hours.

Their entire fleet consists of modern and regularly maintained aircraft.

Whether it is Butterfly Helicopters, Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines, Grand Canyon Helicopters, Maverick Helicopters or Maverick Airlines, you have nothing to fear and can trust them.

While the activities of these two companies are very similar, Papillon is the company that offers the widest range and the lowest prices on the market without compromising quality, Maverick positions itself in an upscale sector with premium and VIP services.

Note that these two companies also offer night flights over Las Vegas, which provide an unforgettable opportunity to enjoy the lights of Sin City.

In all cases, the fares published by Papillon and Maverick do not include hidden fees :

  • no management costs,
  • no fuel surcharge,
  • Shuttles/limousines are included in the services they require (especially tours from Las Vegas),
  • in this case the entrance to the Grand Canyon NP or the Hualapai Reserve is free of charge.


Bell Helicopters

Papillon is the most famous and prestigious company founded in 1965.

Each year, Papillon and its subsidiaries welcome more than 600.000 passengers to discover the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas by air.

  • Papillon Helicopters, which offers helicopter (Bell and H130) and airplane flights from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West and Grand Canyon South Rim.
  • Grand Canyon Helicopters, which offers only high-end H130 helicopter flights from Las Vegas and Grand Canyon South Rim.
  • Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines, which offers flights from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West and Grand Canyon South Rim only.
  • Grand Canyon Coaches, which only offers bus excursions from Las Vegas.

The main advantage of Papillon is that it is unbeatable for prices. If you want to fly over the Grand Canyon without spending too much money, choose Papillon, especially since the company regularly offers promotional deals and discounts.


Airbus EcoStar 130 Helicopter

Maverick is a newer company, founded in 1995 and 225.000 passengers transported per year.

The group's helicopter fleet consists exclusively of high-quality H130 aircraft.

The Maverick Group has 2 units :

  • Maverick Helicopters, which offers high-end H130 helicopter flights from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West and Grand Canyon South Rim.
  • Maverick Airlines, which only offers flights by plane, from Las Vegas.

With a more upscale positioning, Maverick's prices are between 20 and 30% more expensive than Papillon's. This Delta is enhanced by VIP services (limousine, champagne. ), customers who take care of themselves, and the latest generation of very luxurious equipment.

Why book online ?

If you decide to fly Papillon or Maverick during your stay in the American West, it is essential to book it in advance on the Internet for several reasons :

  • Make sure you have a place to stay. Demand is high, and for peak season, towers go like hotcakes. As flight schedules are not extendable, it is often not possible for you to book at the last minute when you arrive on site.
  • Take advantage of better rates when booking online (up to 50% cheaper than booking on-site).
  • In addition, take advantage of the promotional offers and discounts that companies regularly offer.

The booking process is very simple.

First select your tour.

Then select the date you want to take your trip and the number of people.
Please note that prices for the same tour may vary depending on dates (holidays, weekends. ) can vary.
At Papillon, children ages 2 to 11 benefit from a $20 discount off the adult price.

Then select your flight time.
Early and day flights are usually cheaper. If possible, choose a morning or late afternoon flight to enjoy softer, brighter, warmer colors.

Then specify the surname, first name and weight of each passenger.

At Papillon, for a helicopter ride, you may pay an additional fee ($50) to ensure you are seated in the front seats. You can pay an additional fee ($15) to fly over on a plane to make sure you are next to a window.
If your tour departs from Las Vegas, you must also specify which hotel you are staying at to schedule shuttle or limo transfers.

Then proceed to pay by credit card after providing an email and phone number.
Note that Papillon offers the option to pay in euros, which avoids exchange fees from your bank.

Once your reservation is made, you'll receive an email confirmation of your reservation within 24 hours. Print it out and take this confirmation with you.

On site


Important note about Papillon : It is imperative that you confirm your trip by calling the booking center at least 24 hours in advance at +1(702)638-3296. When you call, make sure you have your reservation number.

In case of program change or if you can't fly over, you can change or cancel your tour up to 24 hours before departure in Papillon and up to 48 hours in Maverick without penalty.
In the event of a cancellation, you will receive a full refund.
Note, at Papillon, the "Super Saver" fares are non-refundable.

If the weather does not cooperate and prevents you from performing as scheduled, you will be fully refunded or rescheduled to another date or day if you can and wish to do so.

Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon Helicopter Launch

If you have booked a flyover from Tusayan (Grand Canyon Souh Rim), arrive at Grand Canyon National Park Airport, a few miles south of Grand Canyon Village (Airport Road, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023 – 35 at least 30 minutes before your flight time.964995, -112.131169).
Each of the companies has its own terminal. Look at what is indicated on the voucher you received by email to know the exact address where you should go :

  • Papillon Helicopters : 3568 Airport Road, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023.
  • Grand Canyon Helicopters : 3563 Hummingbird Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023.
  • Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines : 3555 Airport Road, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023.
  • Maverick Helicopters : 107 Corsair Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023.

Las Vegas

Limousine in Las Vegas

If you have booked a flyover from Las Vegas, most tours include a shuttle service (van, bus or limousine) that will pick you up at your hotel at a specified time (indicated on your voucher) and take you to the airport from where you will depart your flyover. Depending on the tour and the company, it can be :

  • from McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, for Grand Canyon Helicopters and Maverick Helicopters.
  • From Henderson Executive Airport, Henderson, for Maverick Helicopters and Maverick Airlines.
  • from Boulder City Municipal Airport, Boulder City, for Papillon Helicopters and Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines.

Check-in and flight

When you arrive at the terminal, go to the front desk to check in. Have your reservation number ready. Each passenger must also present their passport.

During the process, you'll need to set up a scale to record your weight. These dates are important for the company to properly distribute the "loads" in the helicopter. Generally, the lightest people are more likely to be placed at the top.
If you want to get the job done, you can pay Papillon an additional fee when you book to make sure you sit in the front seats.

Interior view of an H130

At hour S your pilot will arrive, make the call to pick up all his passengers, and then take you to the tarmac at the foot of your plane.
A souvenir photo, in front of the plane and with the pilot, will be taken before takeoff. You can buy this painting when you come back.
After some safety instructions (a life jacket is provided) the pilot will place each passenger.

Then it is the time of takeoff and the beginning of your wonderful journey through the air.

A noise-canceling headset allows you to hear the pilot's explanations and listen to an audio tour in German.

The tours, which take place throughout the day, include a meal.

Tours that include a ground tour of the Grand Canyon (at Grand Canyon South Rim or Grand Canyon West) include access fees (entrance to the national park or Hualapai Indian Reserve).

Items allowed in the cabin

Camera, camcorder, smartphone. in short, everything that allows you to take your flight is allowed in the cabin during your tour.