When it comes to sweeping helicopter tours across deep blue water, over towering mountain canyons and above pristine waterfalls, there’s nothing quite like being 3,000 feet above Lake Tahoe.
Climbing through the sky by way of South Lake Tahoe-based Reno Tahoe Helicopters (helitahoe.com/index.html) is like riding sideways in an elevator with dramatic 180 degree views of the crown jewel of the Sierra.
Famed landmarks like Emerald Bay, Zephyr Cove, Sand Harbor and Cave Rock are traversed, with all of Lake Tahoe’s brilliant hues of blue popping picturesque and unobstructed.
Since 2005, tour company owner and pilot Claudio Bellotto and his team of pilots have whisked riders high above the cobalt-blue lake on tours from 10 minutes to an hour.
These skilled pilots know every ripple of the lake, its shoreline and beyond, providing passengers stunning views of mountains, forests and wilderness areas. Check out helitahoe.com/videos.html.
For romantics, sunsets are among the most spectacular by helicopter, where miles of shoreline meet the Sierra sky in deep shades of orange, amber, coral and purple.
Reno Tahoe Helicopters has partnered with Simple Tahoe Weddings to offer ceremonies where the bride and groom can make their vows memorable with a minister onboard just about anywhere above the lake.
Among the fleet are a Robinson 22 and two Robinson R44 Raven II helicopters, considered in the tour industry among the safest and quietest aircraft. With a maximum of three passengers, the R44’s provide unobstructed window seats for each passenger. The latest addition to the existing fleet is a Bell 206 Long Ranger L4 that seats up to six passengers and is specifically designed for high altitude operations.
Bellotto and his pilots have earned accolades from the FAA, fellow helicopter pilots and instructors throughout the country. Bellotto has flown more than 4,000 hours as a helicopter pilot, the majority mountain flight hours above 6,000 feet.
A native of Italy, he speaks several languages allowing tours to be offered in English, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Russian.
Flight training and aerial filming/photography depart daily from Minden-Tahoe. All tours, flight training, aerial filming/photography and weddings depart daily from the Tahoe Valley Airport in South Lake Tahoe.
All tours require a minimum of two persons per flight.
• Emerald Bay: These 10-minute flights over Tahoe’s most famous landmark provide stunning access and best views of the bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Vikingsholm Castle and Fannette Island for $70 per person.
• Zephyr Cove: These 20-minute flights provide a spectacular soar over Lake Tahoe’s South Shore for $140 per person.
• Lake Tahoe Waterfalls: 30 minute tours provide stunning views of waterfalls and cascading ephemerals beginning at Eagle Falls then mirroring the rugged granite hillsides of the Desolation Wilderness, Cascade Falls, Glen Alpine Falls and Echo Lake. The tour climaxes with close-up views of 800-foot Horsetail Falls and the sheer granite faces of Lover’s Leap, a virtual mini-Yosemite only minutes away from Lake Tahoe at $210 per rider.
• Sand Harbor: Passengers experience a breathtaking 30-minute flight over Glenbrook Bay, Secret Harbor, Skunk Harbor and Chimney Beach before arriving to a picture-perfect setting above the sandy beaches of Sand Harbor for $210 per person.
• Lakewide Tour: From north and south to all the places in between, for $315 per person, passengers can view all of Lake Tahoe from California to Nevada during this eye-popping 45-minute flight.
• Sunset Tour: This hour-long ride around Lake Tahoe is awash in magnificent colors that only happen once a day. From the many hues of the water, the sky opens up on this tour making it ideal for photos and videotaping at $325 per person.
In addition to tours, Reno Tahoe Helicopters also offers basic and advanced flight training, corporate and group events.
For more information or to book a flight go to helitahoe.com or call 530-208-5247.