International and domestic tourists are embarking on tours to last a lifetime of memories. Aerial views of the Hoover Dam, the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Lake Mead are breath-taking.For first-timers, it's an adventure and for return veterans, it's another trip to add to the list of things to do in Las Vegas. Click To Tweet
Surrounded by mega hotels and metropolitan-like casinos, it’s easy to forget that Sin city is surrounded by natural landscapes of deserts, canyons, and untouchable terrain.
Numerous helicopter companies are making it easier for visitors to take a leap of faith by signing up for aerial tours. Boulder City-based Papillon Group sends voice mail messages to guests a day before the scheduled date, then picks them up at hotel meeting points to shuttle them 45 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip.
While amazing views are visible throughout Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, devastating reminders are visible that the lake is shrinking and global warming is taking over. Experts and geologists are predicting the lake will disappear in 50 years.
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and one of the largest canyons on Earth. It stretches for 450 kilometers. Parts of the canyon are more than 30 kilometers wide and one kilometer deep. The mind-blowing aerial views are unforgettable.
Depending on the tour, family-owned Papillon offers a selection of 40 types, anywhere from four hours to day-long excursions. The trip to the canyon (which takes you past the Hoover Dam) takes about 25 minutes. Other highlights include abandoned silver mines, secret airport strips for covert Mafia meetings, attempts of suburbia out in the desert, and Native American sites.
Papillon began as a transport for workers of the Hoover Dam. Then, the three-generation family enterprise expanded operations to offer the helicopter tours to visitors interested in the aerial views of the desert landscapes. When recession hit in 2008, Papillon began to market the tour company to international tourists who wanted a break from the 24-hour gambling or just wanted to take in once-in-a-lifetime adventure tours.
Papillon has continued to expand and create partnerships with the Havasupai, Hualapai, and Navajo Nations, and has increased its operations to include Grand Canyon West; McCarran International Airport; Boulder City Municipal Airport and Lake Powell/Page, Arizona. Papillon Group serves around 3,500 passengers daily on 75 state-of-the-art helicopters and airplanes specifically designed to enhance touring flights.
For those afraid of heights, the aerial views make visitors forget about their fears. Helicopter pilots assured passengers through their corny jokes about being a first-time pilot.
Checking in allows passengers to weigh in, then pilots are informed of weights to balance throughout the helicopter. Four can sit in the back while two can sit in the front with the pilot. After check-in at the registration desk, passengers are instructed to view a safety video of all the do’s and don’ts during the aerial ride.
The company does forbid large iPads and mini-computers for photo-taking so passengers by the window do not hog all the window views. During the tour, the pilots point out highlights of the desert terrain. No matter how long you commit your time for the helicopter ride, the tour feels like minutes before you need to return to reality and back to Sin City.