Thursday was a long, fun day. It started at 4 AM, waking up way, way too early to meet our transportation to the Boulder City airport, just outside of Las Vegas, to take a helicopter trip into the Grand Canyon.
We signed up with Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters to take a ride into the Canyon, including a flight over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and a stop down into the canyon for a light meal and champagne. If it sounds decadent, well, that’s because it is. I think we could have skipped the quick meal and booze before 8:30 AM, but it was part of the package, so who what I to complain? (Thank you, Elaine and Larry, for the gift of one of the tickets!)
To me, a helicopter turned out to be a great introduction to the wonder and sheer size of the Grand Canyon. The flight takes about 20 minutes to get into the Canyon, and then you are flying into the western part of the Canyon (as the central region, in the national park, is off-limits to helicopters flying below the rim), looking up at the rim and getting a good view of the ancient layers of rock as they zoom by.
We landed in a prepared area on Native American land, and even though it was early in the morning, the heat and sun already felt brutal. We walked around, took some pictures, and tried to take it all in. Way too soon, it was time to leave, so we took off and looked about a bit more of the Canyon before zoom across desert, back to our hotel in Vegas, with just enough time to check out.
All in all, a stunning trip, one that rivals our helicopter trip over Kauai from a few years ago. If you want to experience the Grand Canyon from all angles, a helicopter tour is the best way to go.