I've been visiting Southern Utah my whole life. My parents, grandparents, and even great-great grandparents were born there, so my roots run deep in the red soil of Cedar City, Hurricane, St. George and Zion National Park. Having visited and occasionally lived in this beautiful area for decades, you'd think I'd have seen it all.
When Zion Helicopters contacted me about a helicopter tour, I was excited to see Southern Utah in a new way. Zion Helicopters specializes in aerial tours of Zion, Red Cliffs, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow and Quail Creek.
What's it like?
Flying over one of my favorite places on earth in a helicopter was a bucket list experience. Remembering our helicopter tour still gives me a thrill, and I'm glad I could share it with my family.
I flew with my husband and two children, ages 13 and 11. This was our first helicopter ride, and I was nervous as we left the ground. Our pilot, Nick was confident and had clearly done this before (even though he joked that he hadn't.) He was a lifetime local, familiar with the geography and history of the area.
We flew over Quail Creek State Park, where I have memories of water skiing with my cousins. Next, we flew over Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. When I was a student at Southern Utah University, Red Cliffs was our favorite place to play hooky on spring days that were too nice to spend in class. I realized how much of this gorgeous place I had never seen as we flew over it.
Next we flew over Silver Reef, a ghost town that my family has seen from the ground. I was able to see some of the mine shafts from that old silver mining town for the first time. Finally, we flew over a scenic recreational area just east of Interstate 15 that I had never visited. We saw people below, and now I want to check it out from the ground on a future trip.
We arrived at Zion Helicopters 20 minutes before our tour. After signing the waivers, we watched a safety video. It showed us where to stand and what to expect when boarding. Ashley assured us that she would help us every step of the way, and she did. There was not a moment where either Ashley or our pilot wasn't there to make sure we had a good and safe experience. She even offered to take photos with my phone of our family and the helicopter.
I held my GoPro on my knee throughout our flight. Here is the video of our tour.
How much does it cost?
We sampled Zion Helicopter's least expensive 15-Mile Flight over Quail Creek and Red Cliffs. This tour lasts 10-15 minutes, and starts at $65 per person. I loved this tour and I love the price, but it did feel short. We were all sorry when it was over.
There are two prices for each tour – private and group. The private rate is for two people, and guarantees that others will not be added to your tour. The group rate is for 3-4 people. If you are a single or group of two, you can get the group rate if you are willing to ride with others. Tours require a two-person minimum.
Zion Helicopters offers about a dozen different tour options, from our short tour to full-day adventures. Most tours stick close to St. George and Zion National Park. Full-day tours go as far as Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell. Optional add-ons include:
- Helicopter and Jeep tour bundle
- Landing on a private mesa with views of Zion National Park
- GoPro video of your tour
Which tour is the most popular?
Zion Helicopters' most popular tour is the 90 Mile Zion Tour. It's an aerial tour of Kolob Canyon, Smith Mesa and Zion National Park. You won't go right into Zion Canyon, but you'll ride to the mouth of it for some outstanding views. You'll see remote regions of Zion National Park that most visitors will never see. This tour starts at $319 per person.
Do I need to book in advance?
You don't have to, but it's a good idea. Our tour was scheduled on the Saturday before President's Day in February. That's technically the off-season, but on a sunny holiday weekend, Zion National Park was hopping. Zion Helicopters was fully booked that afternoon, and we saw two groups call or walk in asking about tours while we waited.
Spring and summer are the busiest seasons for Zion Helicopter, and weekends fill most quickly. Zion Helicopters will cancel tours if the weather isn't safe, so build some flexibility into your itinerary in case you need to reschedule.
What should I bring?
Bring your camera. We had our smart phone cameras and a GoPro. I held the Go Pro in place on my knee and used my other hand to take pictures with my phone. My GoPro video is probably not as good as what Zion Helicopters' Go Pro would have done from outside, but it successfully captured this bucket-list memory.
After that, you don't need much. The helicopter has little storage space, so lock anything you don't need during your flight in your car.
How many can ride?
The helicopter had four passenger seats – one in front and three in back. My husband and two children were comfortable in the back seats, but we were told that for three full-size adults, it can be a tight squeeze back there.
Is there a weight limit?
The helicopter can accommodate up to 1200 pounds of passenger weight – or about 4 large adults. Most families won't come too close to that total, but you'll all get to stand on a scale before you ride. This helps the Zion Helicopter team do the math to plan a safe ride for your family.
Is a helicopter tour good for kids?
Zion Helicopters is happy to have children over one year of age on a helicopter tour. Discounts are available for children aged 4 and younger. Children over age 2 must sit in their own seat.
My kids loved every minute of our Zion Helicopter tour. It was a really cool experience to share as a family.
Do we need to tip?
Yes. Tips are accepted and appreciated by your pilot. Be sure to bring cash to tip your pilot after the tour.
Where is Zion Helicopters located?
Zion Helicopters is located just off of State Street/Highway 9 in Hurricane, Utah. It's easy to spot from the road.
Disclosure: Zion Helicopters provided my family with a complimentary tour for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.