Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is spectacular and has been carved out over time by the mighty Colorado River. It is just over 440km long, 29km wide and over 1800 metres deep … wow … and, if you have time, a side trip here is often high on the list for anyone visiting Las Vegas.
We first visited the Grand Canyon just over 20 years ago, so when we found ourselves heading to Vegas for a wedding, we decided another trip needed to be included on our itinerary. There are two main parts to the Canyon, the North Rim and the South Rim and the first time we visited, we flew to the South Rim by small plane. We haven’t been to the North Rim but fewer people visit there because it’s a little more difficult to get to. The South Rim is more popular with over 90% of people making it their choice, as it’s open all year round.
We decided this time we were going all out and booked a tour by helicopter … quite a brave move considering I have a morbid fear of heights. However, I was determined that wouldn’t get the better of me!
We booked online with Papillon, before we left home and it was super easy. We chose Papillon as they’ve been around since 1965 and the reviews we read were great but there are quite a few operators to choose from. Papillon offers a wide range of tours and we settled on the Grand Celebration Tour. This tour included a pick up from our hotel by bus, a transfer to Boulder City to check-in at the Papillon Terminal and then, after a very short wait, we were off. Having never been in a helicopter before, to say I was terrified was an absolute understatement. However, I was determined to tick a helicopter ride off my Bucket List and equally determined to overcome my fear. The takeoff and flight were so smooth but I will admit I cried solidly for the first 20 minutes. Hubby was wonderful though, continually reassuring me I’d be okay, although I’m surprised he escaped with no broken bones with me squeezing his hand so tightly. Once I finally settled, I LOVED IT and felt totally safe. It is a weird sensation being in a helicopter … I felt like I was just hanging in mid-air but it was such a great experience. I wouldn’t hesitate to go up again. Our pilot was fantastic, ensuring a smooth ride, and he gave a running commentary for the whole flight.
And as for the scenery, well it was nothing short of spectacular. Seeing the Grand Canyon by air is a fantastic option because you get to really appreciate its sheer size and vastness, something you can’t really comprehend from the ground. The tour also takes in Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. The flight itself lasted for around 70 minutes and we also landed on the floor of the Canyon for around 30 minutes to enjoy a champagne picnic lunch, so that was pretty special.
The tour from start to finish was around 4 ½ hours. Granted, it’s not a cheap tour costing US$700 (AUS$920) for the two of us but I have to say it was worth every cent. It really is was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, not just to see the grandeur of the Canyon but to also experience a helicopter flight at the same time, especially if you’ve never done it before. I would have to say this was one of the highlights of our whole trip.
So tell me, have you visited the Grand Canyon and what did you think? Have you ever been for a helicopter ride and do heights make you nervous?