Flight over the Grand Canyon

Bird’s eye views of Grand Canyon are an awesome sight to behold, even if it is in the blazing heat of mid-afternoon on a record setting temperature day for the Las Vegas area.

Blogger Disclosure: Grand Canyon Airlines provides audio guide flights over the Grand Canyon from Boulder City Airport Nevada, about a thirty minute drive from hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Transportation from Las Vegas hotels to the Boulder City Airport is included in flight tour price.

My flight was complimentary as an attendee of IPW U.S. Travel Association conference in Las Vegas June 8-12, 2013. This Visionary flight tour is currently available for $219 adult and $199 child.

Up, up and away.

The photos from my flight are kind of muted colors since we were flying at peak sun brightness around 3:30pm on a day when the sky was far hazier than the previous day when I had crisp desert color photos. Also shooting through an airplane window is challenging, especially as the small plane bounced around in the wind currents.


Seated in Row 1A provided an upfront view. Every passenger gets a window seat in the 19 seat plane. The right side of the plane has two seats and the left side of the aisle is a single seat.


De Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft.

Every passenger had a photo opportunity with the pilots before boarding and a framed 8 x 10 photo was waiting for us after the flight over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the western region of the Grand Canyon.


Audio channels for flight in multiple languages including English, Spanish, German, Japanese and perhaps some others.

Headphones were necessary to drown out the loud noise of the plane in flight. Most of the tape is a musical soundtrack with intermittent information on the history and sights along the flight path.

One interesting fact mentioned is Boulder City, Nevada is the only town in the state that prohibits casinos.

Although, Wikipedia says Paneca, Nevada also prohibits gambling as well as alcohol, making it even more of an anomaly for Nevada.


Boulder City greenery is sharply delineated from the surrounding undeveloped desert. Lake Mead is the reservoir created from the Colorado River blockage at Hoover Dam. This reservoir is the largest in the U.S. and extends about 112 miles.

Lake Mead is currently at 1,108 feet above sea level which is 121 feet below its full capacity level at 1,229 feet. The lake is considered to be at drought level when below 1,075 feet. Lake Mead currently holds less than 50% of its water capacity.


Lake Mead National Recreation Area is one of the most visited National Parks in the U.S., ranking in 5th place for 2012 with 6.2 million visitors.


Hoover Dam and the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

Hoover Dam Bypass, aka Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge on Highway 93, is the second highest bridge in the U.S. at nearly 900 feet over the Colorado River. The bridge opened in October 2010 and connects Nevada and Arizona.

Prior to the new bridge, all road traffic was routed across the top of Hoover Dam.


Grand Canyon dry wash to Colorado River.


The passengers on the right side of the plane had great views of the Colorado River while I viewed dry canyons. I kept thinking the view was better on the other side of the plane, but a passenger on the other side said she didn’t think that was the case.


Colorado River meandering through the Grand Canyon and one raft spotted on the river.


Colorado River in Grand Canyon.


John Wesley Powell’s geographic expedition in 1869 was the first known successful navigation of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Powell made a second expedition in 1872-73 to complete detailed maps and  included John Karl Hillers on the team who became the chief photographer for the expedition. Hillers documented Grand Canyon scenery in 3,000 images. Hillers continued to photograph the American West for another 40+ years and created a historical record of many Native American tribes through his work of more than 20,000 images.


Grand Canyon is a layer cake of mesas above the Colorado River.


The muddy river of the canyons before Hoover Dam.


Colorado River flow after Hoover Dam.

The air was quite hazy as high clouds rolled into Las Vegas that afternoon.


Plane arriving back at Boulder City Airport. Las Vegas in the haze in the distance as the temperature hit 110 degrees.

The airplane ride was a bit warm, especially at times when the sun shone directly into the window. I had a water bottle and kept a wet cloth on my neck to stay cooler.

Close to the ground the views were much clearer.


100+ degrees at 4:30pm did not keep this guy off the golf course grass.


Grand Canyon Airlines.


Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I met Rose Davis today in Las Vegas. She holds the position with U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation External Affairs Officer for Lower Colorado Region.

    I asked her about the water level of Lake Mead that is considered drought level. 1,075 feet is the drought level and this article originally stated 1,125 feet.

  2. A very informative review of Grand Canyon Airlines. Definitely something out of the ordinary from the typical helicopter tours that many tourists take from Las Vegas. Thanks for sharing!

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