In this week’s travel feature, Gabriella Peralta explored the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
By Gabriella Peralta
Catching a helicopter ride is one of the quickest ways to get to the Grand Canyon, but it’s the breath taking views that make the expense worth it.
In under an hour you can cross state lines in a helicopter from Las Vegas to Arizona, while also enjoying a view of the iconic Las Vegas strip.
We chose Maverick and the ‘wind dancer’ tour that sees the helicopter weave through the canyons.
The Grand Canyon is expansive, to put it into context its 446 km long and up to 29 km wide, so there no way when visiting the Canyon that you can see it all.
Our tour took around three hours, most of it flying with around 30 – 40 minutes walking around the canyon and having a picnic provided by the tour guide.
The sweltering heat is intense in the canyon, and in August at around 40 degrees taking a break during sightseeing is key.
The temperature in the canyon can fluctuate between 20 and 30 degrees from night and day, and conditions at the canyon are generally dry.
Remember a hat, lots of sun cream, and cool clothing if you’re going to make the trip.
Inside the helicopter it can get even warmer.
However, despite the heat during the summer months the Grand Canyon has some of the cleanest air in the United States.
Helicopter travel isn’t without its hazards, a clear day with no wind like we had was great, but our pilot Tim reminded us that the winds can push a helicopter like a “rag doll”.
“I’m a pilot, not a tour guide,” he reminded all passengers.
Safety of his passengers in the helicopter and at the site was paramount for the pilots.
Every year there are cases of people accidentally falling from height off the canyon, in particular tourists getting very close to the edge to take a perfect shot.
It is estimated around five million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, and the canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Cutting across the five million year old Canyon is the Colorado River stained red by the red rock it flows through.
Tim informed us that the name Colorado derives from Spanish for ‘coloured red’.
The views from the helicopter are spectacular, and when touching down on the canyon ground the experience is surreal.
Tour companies pay to be able to lands helicopters and drive buses through the canyons that are owned by the Native Americans.
It is important when visiting this natural wonder to be respectful of the area. For the ‘Pueblo people’ the Canyon is considered a holy site.
The Ancestral Puebloans were the first people known to live in the Grand Canyon area.
When visiting the Arizona area and Las Vegas a trip to the Grand Canyon can easily be the highlight to your trip.