Helicopter Service is an alternate form of transportation from the Hilltop Trail Head Parking Lot, to the village of Supai. Be aware they do not fly all days. They also do not fly in bad weather. But many successfully use this service.
You need a back-up plan. A backup plan you are physically able to do in case of weather or other no-fly days. It is rare that weather cancels flights. But you need to be aware of that.
Helicopter service might work great for someone that doesn’t have the desire or the physical ability to hike or backpack the trek of 12 miles to the campground area. You can carry one pack on your lap. Bear in mind you are dropped at the landing pad in the Village of Supai. The Lodge is in the village, but the campground is still another 2 miles away.
But again you have to be prepared for delays….even entire days or more.
Many report negative experiences with the first come first served pay to ride arrangement. They complain about the whole line-up, wait, get delayed, somewhat disorganized at times, boarding process.
Many report they are set up in camp if they hiked in. Verses others in their party that fly in and it takes the morning to make it to the campground.
[Info as of 2018]
In the past…..our info may be outdated …..you need to confirm this before your trip. The flight schedule was this:
Winter Days – Friday and Sunday only (Date span of winter unknown)
Summer Days – Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday (Not on Tuesday and Wednesday) (Date span of Summer unknown)
$85 Per Person/one way plus Tax
(Credit Cards have additional Fees of $10)
Flights start at 10am
Locals and locals freight have priority over visitors/gear.
If you want to fly just your bag and not yourself, it is $20 per bag up to 40 pounds.
Expect to wait.
Sign-in as soon as you are able the morning of the flight.
You can take you gear with on on your lap- Limited 1 bag-40lbs
They don’t fly everyday. Weather can cancel flights for the entire day.
Be prepare to hike.
You can transport gear via the Helicopter even when not riding. Gear is only transported between the Hilltop Parking area, and the village of Supai. If camping you would have to backpack your gear the 2 miles between the village and the campground.
For the regular per person flight you can bring one bag of up to 40 pounds. Depending on load factors it may or may not be on the same flight as you.
The Lodge is in the village of Supai within a short walking distance of the landing pad. The Helicopter service is real nice if you are staying in the Lodge and can’t hack the hike in. It totally changes the experience, but might be the only option for some with medical issues.
If you are camping you have about 2 additional miles of hiking/backpacking from Supai (Helicopter landing pad) on down to the camping area. You will have to carry your gear that distance unless you can arrange a pack animal from Supai village to the camping area. I know of no one that has arranged a pack animal for this leg only. If someone is successful please send us the info on how to arrange it, and the cost for that leg one way.
You can arrange a pack animal all the way starting at the trail head and dropping off at the campground. Also vice versa for the day you leave. But you may be waiting some time for your gear.
It might be beneficial to arrange a pack animal from the campground out, when you have intentions of flying out on the helicopter. Should you get to the village and the helicopter gets cancelled before you can fly out at least you don’t have to pack your gear out yourself. This is especially a good idea if you have some physical issue preventing you from carrying your pack weight all the way out.
The landing pad and sign-up at the trail head is at the lower parking area on the canyon side of the main parking area.
The landing pad and sign-up in the village (Supai) is a open, grassy, fenced off area, next to the Cafe.
Be aware. There are some issues you need to know. Many come away with a negative experience. Not with the flight itself, but the whole sign-up, wait, get delayed, priorities, etc.
It is first come first served via a signup sheet the morning of the flight. This happens whether you leave from the Trail Head and flying down to the village. Or are departing from the village to return to your vehicle. Get in line early but flights don’t start until 10am.
Expect a whole group to show up way after you, and somehow be on a list and actually fly out before you.
Locals & Freight have priority over visitors/tourists regardless of when they sign in or where you are in line. Locals will walk past you and appear to be line jumping if you are not aware of this. Its the way it is. Be courteous!
At times they have many flights to transport all passengers. It may be late in the day before you get on a flight. But most of the time everyone gets flown in or out before they stop. Your gear might get flown without you. That is if you check any gear that is not on your lap.
Though rare, weather can cancel flights at any time and for the entire day. Our suggestion is be prepared to hike/backpack in, or out, in all cases. For those that physically can’t do the hike, and make the flight in, consider this before traveling into the area.
What would you do if you are down there and the day you are scheduled to leave, flights get canceled, or you don’t get to fly for some reason?
What will you do if your gear is already on a pack animal and on the way to the trail head and your flight is canceled? Also if part of your group hikes out, flights get cancelled and you physically can’t hike out….what then? Or your group hikes out early and you don’t get a flight until the end of the day….it can happen.
What happens if you transport your gear by another method and you and your gear end up on opposite ends of the trail? Be prepared and have contingency plans.
Sign up and get in line early. Depending on the time of year and the amount of travelers this might mean as early as 6AM? Call and check for the start of flights on your dates. Fall hours I know flights start at 10AM. Sundays are normally real busy.
There is a sign up sheet, clip board. You need to get on the list. Sometimes it is not out to find. People report it is disorganized with no one in authority at times, especially in the early hours. People report some purposely line jump and don’t follow any form of common courtesy. Some have found that taking your own paper and pen to start the sign-up helps, if a sheet is not out when people first start showing up.