Lake Tahoe is a cobalt blue lake and is widely considered one of the world’s most beautiful places. 

This natural attraction offers excellent outdoor recreation and stunning scenery and attracts 20 million people annually. 

Some of these visitors prefer to go up in a helicopter and enjoy the views. 

In this article, we share everything you must know before booking your helicopter tour over Lake Tahoe. 

Where to visit Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is almost 1900 meters (6225 feet) on top of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range on the California and Nevada border.

It has two parts – North Lake Tahoe and Tahoe South. 

Image: Visitinglaketahoe.com

The Northern shore of Tahoe lake is quieter and offers more natural vistas, while its southern part has more action. 

The Towns to the South of the lake have many bars, nightclubs, casinos with live music, etc., attracting a lot of the younger crowd. 


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Lake Tahoe Airport

All helicopter tours take off from Lake Tahoe Airport, three miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe, in El Dorado County, California. 

The airport is also referred to as Tahoe Valley Airport.

If you have booked a heli tour over Tahoe Lake, you must report to the Tahoe Helicopters office at 1901 Airport Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, at least 20 minutes before your scheduled take-off.  Get Directions

Once you enter the main floor terminal building at the Tahoe Lake airport, you will find Tahoe Helicopters’ office on the left inside the main lobby. 

Once you report for the tour, you meet your pilot, who gives you a safety briefing before boarding the helicopter.  

After your chopper tour is over, you return to the same helipad. 


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Cost of Lake Tahoe helicopter tours

Passengers below two years are considered infants, and they fly along for free.

However, while booking, you must mention them, and on the day of the tour, they sit on the lap of an adult. 

Valerii Tereshchenko / Getty

All passengers two years and above must purchase full tour tickets. 

At $94 per person, the 10-minute Emerald Bay helicopter tour is the cheapest and the most popular.

The Zephyr Cove helicopter tour, which gets you airtime of twenty minutes, costs $180 per person.

The Lakes and Waterfalls tour, during which you see some of the best natural views around the lake in 30 minutes, costs $265 per person.

If you want to circle Tahoe Lake in a helicopter, it takes 45 minutes and costs $392 per person. This tour is the best, and hence the costliest.


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Best Lake Tahoe helicopter tours

During the heli tours over the lake, you fly over the pristine wilderness and see Lake Tahoe’s beauty from the air. 

Tahoe helicopters, who organize these flights, fly Robinson R44 Raven II, with bubble windows offering great views and air conditioning.

The helicopter tours are available in different combinations – durations and destinations.

These tours need a minimum of two passengers and a maximum of three for the booking.

In this section, we share five of the best helicopter tours that fly over Tahoe lake. 

Cancellation Policy

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the experience’s start date. 

When the helicopter tour gets canceled due to poor weather, a different date or a full refund is offered. 

1. Emerald Bay helicopter tour of Lake Tahoe

This trip is the cheapest helicopter tour over Lake Tahoe, and you get airtime of ten minutes. 

From the air, you see the beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, Taylor Creek, and Pope Beach, and finally, the breathtaking Emerald Bay. 

Emerald Bay is an expanse of shimmering greens, turquoise, and blues set against the mountain backdrop on the lake’s west shore.

It is considered Lake Tahoe’s crown jewel and gets its name from its the area’s emerald green waters.  

All travelers get noise-reducing headsets for a comfortable ride.

Departure Time: You can select any slot between 9 am to 4 pm 
Duration in the air: 10 to 12 minutes
Narration: Live commentary by the pilot
Cost of the tour: $94 per person

See available dates & read reviews

2. Zephyr Cove helicopter tour

This 20-minute helicopter tour covers Lake Tahoe’s entire south shore, starting with a trip up the east coast into Nevada. 

You enjoy the fascinating indigo blue waters and teal shorelines as the helicopter with tourist-friendly windows fly you to Zephyr Cove. 

After going around Zephyr Cove, the chopper heads west along the south shoreline past Fallen Leaf Lake and Cascade Lake to Emerald Bay.

The noise-reducing headphones help you hear the pilot’s commentary over the sound of the rotating fan.

Departure Time: You can select any slot between 9 am to 3.30 pm 
Duration in the air: 20 minutes
Narration: Live commentary by the pilot
Cost of the tour: $180 per person

See available dates & read reviews

3. Tour of all lakes and waterfalls around Tahoe Lake

During this 30-minute helicopter tour, you get to see Lake Tahoe’s aerial views and the surrounding peaks and waterfalls.

The heli tour first heads to Emerald Bay, then south along the mountains over Cascade Lake, past Mount Tallac, and over Fallen Leaf lake’s shoreline. 

Then you head over Glen Alpine Creek, with Glen Alpine Falls below, and come face-to-face with Pyramid Peak, which stands tall at 3043 meters (9984 feet).

You enjoy the numerous lakes and waterfalls in the area and then fly over Lake Aloha and past Horsetail Falls, dropping nearly 500 feet. 

During the last leg of the heli tour, you fly over upper and lower Echo Lake and then return to the airport.

Departure Time: You can select any slot between 9.20 am to 4 pm 
Duration in the air: 30 minutes
Narration: Live commentary by pilot
Cost of the tour: $265 per person

See available dates & read reviews

4. Circle the Tahoe Lake helicopter tour

During this 45-minute flight, you will soar over Lake Tahoe’s pristine 116 kms (72 miles) shoreline.

The tour starts with Emerald Bay, after which you continue your journey around Lake Tahoe to witness the fascinating views it has to offer.

You may have seen the shoreline from the highways, but nothing beats the view from the top. 

Departure Time: Available in one-hour slots starting 9 am to 4 pm. 
Duration in the air: 45 minutes
Narration: Live commentary by the pilot
Cost of the tour: $392 per person

See available dates & read reviews

5. Tahoe’s Sand Harbor Helicopter Tour

This 30-minute helicopter tour over Lake Tahoe is the perfect opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful alpine scenery. 

AwakenedEye / Getty

You head to one of Lake Tahoe’s most visited beaches, Sand Harbor, and fly over hidden beaches and bays such as Glenbrook Bay, Secret Harbor, Skunk Harbor, Chimney Beach, etc. 

After you have admired the turquoise-blue waters of the alpine lake tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and seen enough of the Sand Harbour, the chopper gains height to see Marlette Lake at the height of 2390 meters (7841 feet).

Departure Time: You can select any slot from 9.20 am to 3.20 pm 
Duration in the air: 30 minutes
Narration: Live commentary
Cost of the tour: $265 per person

See available dates & read reviews


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FAQs about Tahoe Lake helicopter tours 

Tourists planning to book a Lake Tahoe helicopter tour have a lot of doubts and questions.

We answer a few of these concerns –

1. Can infants fly the Tahoe Lake helicopter tours?

Yes, kids of all ages can fly helicopter tours. No tickets need to be bought for infants below two years of age, but you must mention them on the ticket booking page. 

During the tour, they must sit on one of the parents’ laps. Noise cancellation headsets are available for kids as well.

2. How much in advance should we arrive?


It is okay if you arrive at the Tahoe Halicopter’s office at Lake Tahoe Airport 15 to 20 minutes before your scheduled take-off. 

Do keep in mind the traffic because conditions vary across South Lake Tahoe all through the day.

3. What should I wear for my helicopter tour over Tahoe Lake?

All helicopters are air-conditioned. During winter, the cabin is heated, and during summer, vents are opened up, bringing in fresh air.

Wear what you would usually wear for a drive in your car.

4. What are the weight restrictions for Tahoe Lake flights?

For safety reasons, a passenger’s weight must not be over 113 Kg (250 pounds), and the combined passenger weight must not be over 226 Kgs (500 pounds).

This rule gets enforced strictly.

5. Can I explore Tahoe Lake in an open-door helicopter?

Yes, you can fly over Tahoe Lake in a doors-off helicopter. After booking your tour, arrive a bit early at Tahoe Helicopters’ office and inform the pilot. They will remove the door for your trip.

6. Can I bring my camera onboard?

Yes, you can get your camera on your chopper tour. On a heli tour, it is always better to bring your camera’s secure strap along to hang it around your neck.

7. Can physically challenged passengers join the helicopter tour?

Yes, the Airport, office and helicopter are wheelchair accessible. Even the tarmac surface is wheelchair accessible.

After making the booking, it is better to call the tour operator to inform them of the special needs. 

When the tour operator can’t accommodate the disability, they provide a full refund.

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