Flightseeing in Vancouver: Grouse Mountain helicopter ride

It is not a secret that I am somewhat taken with Vancouver. It must be something between its amazing cityscape, its super-friendly and entrepreneurial inhabitants and its spectacular natural surroundings that attracts me, like so many others, and the fact that it feels very familiar; perhaps it’s the fact that like London, its winters are long, grey and rainy, but the spring, summer and autumn have you fall in love with it time and again.

My new favourite means of transport! - helicopter on Grouse Mountain

My new favourite means of transport! – helicopter on Grouse Mountain

The last time I visited, I did not only explore Vancouver and BC on the ground; I also went flightseeing. Twice. Flying into Vancouver’s International Airport is breathtaking on a normal day, but it’s even better when you’re on a small aircraft or helicopter exploring the landscape from a few different angles, not just the regular runway approach.

Grouse Mountain helicopter ride

Grouse Mountain, also known as Vancouver’s peak, is just a 30-minute drive away from downtown Vancouver. The Skyride gondola takes you right up to the top in a matter of 12 minutes. Grouse Mountain is a bit of an activity hotspot – from skiing in the winter (even night skiing) to ziplining, yoga sessions, lumberjack shows, hiking (try the Grouse Grind), a bear enclosure, and of course, scenic helicopter flights.

When I visited Grouse Mountain with Virgin Atlanticย last May, they made sure I maxed out my experience of Vancouver from an aerial view by sending me ziplining on the peak and straight onto the helicopter afterwards!

Ready for take-off! Christina co-piloting a helicopter at Grouse Mountain!

Ready for take-off! Christina co-piloting a helicopter at Grouse Mountain!

Our pilot, complete with stylish aviators, didn’t muck around much and invited us to hop on and get our headphones on while he got the engine started right away. After a couple of minutes sitting in the helicopter on the ground and the noise of the rotor getting louder and louder, we took a little wobble and were up in the air!

I had never been in a helicopter before, and the sensation of taking off from the ground but not moving forward at a few hundred km/h as you do on a plane was really fascinating.

Grouse Mountain from above

Grouse Mountain from above

What followed then was a 20-min flight around Grouse Mountain with 360 degree views from high up in the air, followed by commentary from our uber-cool pilot, telling us stories about how they often fly out into the mountains for rescue missions when hikers go missing, for example.

Views from the helicopter onto North and West Vancouver

Views from the helicopter onto North and West Vancouver

Views from the helicopter around Grouse Mountain

Views from the helicopter around Grouse Mountain

Views from the helicopter

Views from the helicopter

But don’t take my word for it, have a look for yourself:

We were in the air for about 10 minutes, and at no point did I feel nervous about hovering so high above the ground in such a little flying box! I would highly recommend a flightseeing tour of some sort in British Columbia, as it is really spectacular from the air. Grouse Mountain heli tours were great – they offer three tours of varying duration, and you get to see Crown Mountain, Lion’s Peak or all of the former including a flight over English Bay, Stanley Park, and downtown Vancouver.

Being a great co-pilot in a helicopter on Grouse Mountain

Being a great co-pilot in a helicopter on Grouse Mountain

It has to be said, I do love flying, but honestly, this was such an exhilarating experience I wanted to learn to fly a helicopter myself afterwards! (I still do – anyone willing to teach me?)

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Have you done any flightseeing?

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  11 comments for “Flightseeing in Vancouver: Grouse Mountain helicopter ride

  1. 25 February, 2013 at 05:07

    Such fun & great way to get fabulous views! You look like a natural as co-pilot. I took a helicopter tour once in Kauai — it was amazing to see places that you wouldn’t be able to get to any other way.

    • Christina
      4 March, 2013 at 22:28

      Ahh, Kauai… I’m longing to go to Hawaii in general. Kauai must be spectacular from above!

  2. 1 March, 2013 at 10:45

    Amazing top views. Helicopter experience is very different from other travel conveniences but it covers so fastly that you can not explore a place deeply. One can only enjoy top views of a particular area. But can enjoy flying experience. :)You are looking very pretty at front seat.

    • Christina
      4 March, 2013 at 22:31

      Thanks Peter. I think you’re right, it’s a great add-on to a more extensive tour on the ground. Wish I could go on a helicopter in all the places I visit!

  3. 3 March, 2013 at 05:11

    The views are great and what an unforgettable experience. Lucky you to have the chance to be a co-pilot ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never been on a helicopter but would love to do it. I think I just need to get over that initial fear of being on a small aircraft.

    • Christina
      4 March, 2013 at 22:34

      Thanks Mary – it was hard to wipe that grin off my face afterwards! I’m a bit like an excitable puppy when it comes to adventures like this. I was nervous about it beforehand but honestly, it was totally fine.

  4. 4 March, 2013 at 21:23

    I never did the Grouse Mountain flight-seeing but I did enjoy the views from Grouse Mountain every time I did the Grouse Grind. I have done a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon and a float plane tour over Hunlen Falls – Canada’s third highest waterfall.

  5. Christina
    4 March, 2013 at 22:35

    Ah the Grouse Grind. I still have to do that one ๐Ÿ™‚ Mother Nature’s stairmaster. That should be fun ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve got to check out Hunlen Falls… never heard of them!

  6. 18 March, 2013 at 18:41

    Isn’t the feeling of flying in a helicopter so cool? I’ve been on two rides now and I’m hooked. The views here look stunning!

    • Christina
      18 March, 2013 at 22:02

      Thanks Christy!

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