Monday, October 5, 2015

A Helicopter Tour to Grand Canyon

A helicopter tour to Grand Canyon is the fastest and easiest, and probably the most attractive way to see the Grand Canyon when you stay at Las Vegas, A helicopter ride, a magnificent view of the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from the air, and of course, of the Grand Canyon. A stop for a boat trip on the Colorado river while seeing the Grand Canyon from the bottom up and the Skywalk view. A five star tour! Only prepare the cash as this is very expensive!

When we planned our trip to the United States, a month long vacation with the children, we wanted to see the big parks that we haven’t seen yet – Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. My husband’s dream was the Skywalk, and I dreamed about a flight over the Grand Canyon. Driving from Las Vegas, doing all this decently, with a sleep over on the way turned out to be quite long and expensive, so we decided to do the round trip helicopter tour from Las Vegas. This is very expensive – around 500$ per person, but it was an experience of a lifetime. When people ask my children what was the best thing in the trip to the United States, this tour is first or at most second after Universal Studios….
So what did this trip include?-:
We were picked up around 5am from the hotel in Vegas to Boulder City terminal (around 30 minutes drive)
We took off in a 6 passenger (+pilot) helicopter and flew over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, over the Grand Canyon and landed on the bottom of the Grand Canyon near the Colorado river.
A 15 minutes boat ride over the Colorado river.
A flight to the West Rim.
VIP visit to the Grand Canyon Skywalk and a professional photo
A flight back with the helicopter to Boulder City terminal and a drive to Las Vegas to the hotel.
Overall, half a day to be remembered for a lifetime!
So here are the details.

The flight from Boulder to Grand Canyon

When we got to the small terminal we were very excited. We signed up and identified ourselves, we were weighted (the seating in the helicopter is organized according to the weight balancing). We listened to some safety instructions. Then, we got stickers with our route and that we’re go the safety instructions.
Ready for Lift off
We took some photos in the terminal on the background of the helicopters and then the pilot called us. We marched to the red sexy helicopter and got some explanations from the pilot about the equipment and the flight. We boarded the helicopter according to a pre-planned order. Each passenger received a headset with noise cancellation. Once taking off, we can only speak via the radio. When we took off the pilot explained to us about the helicopter and showed us what we are flying above/near. That’s a good time for the Selfie!
On the way we pass by the Hoover Dam. Up from the air it is quite clear how it serves as a plug for the lake’s water.
Hoover Damn
The lake is very low because of the drought. It is also very big and we fly above it for quite some time.
Lake Mead
Then the landscape turns into a desert, and the excitement starts when we approach Grand Canyon and enter the narrow canyon when the mountains near us are high and steep like walls.
Grand Canyon
e fly along the Colorado River, and start to lower for landing. The pilot explains to us that the air traffic here is quite active, and we notice other helicopters flying nearby. Later on, when we land, the landing fields are busy with helicopters constantly landing and taking off. It is very busy here! When we fly low above the Colorado river – it is quite brown, muddy and full of drift. This is what digs the river and the valley/Canyon!

A boat ride on the Colorado River and a Bottom up view of the Grand Canyon

At the bottom of the Grand Canyon, where we land, there’s a tent for resting and stairs down to the boat dock.
The view from the Colorado is impressive! The flow is fast and the cliffs are high and steep.
The Colorado River
After the boat ride we take off from the landing field to a short flight to the West Rim.

The West Rim and the Skywalk

After landing at the West Rim, we are escorted to the Terminal. It feels like VIP. Everywhere they take us, escort us, explain to us. I think I like the good life – feeling like the rich people live. Meanwhile, we get to the terminal and get a bag with some snacks.
Then, Shirley, our guide, picks us up to the Skywalk. It is a five minutes drive. While driving she explains to us about the project and the Indians. We put all our gear in lockers (cameras and cellphones too) and enter the Skywalk. The Skywalk is a bridge over the Grand Canyon with a glass bottom over the Canyon – 300 feet under….and this is quite scary and exciting. This is what the Skywalk looks like from the nearby observation point. The bridge is connected to the building with deep foundations into the cliff. The mountains are on the back (notice the height) and the muddy Colorado river is at the bottom.
The Skywalk
And this is how it look on the Skywalk. We walk on the transparent surface – quite an experience!!! The Skywalk’s photographer takes our photos (the VIP package includes photos).
The Grand Canyon Skywalk
After the Skywalk, we took the bags from the lockers and roamed around the area. There’s a food booth, the observation point and some Indian exhibits. Everything gets here in trucks; the area is not fully developed. The Indians, that this area is theirs don’t have much to invest, they do that slowly (the Skywalk was a project of a businessman). Even though it is now theirs, it takes them time to develop it. When we visited the building was in partial construction to open a café and a visitor center. All the income from the project serves the local Indian community.
Here’s a panoramic picture of the observation point. I am standing dressed in white where the Eagle Point is – the Cliff looks like an Eagle with wings.
The disadvantage of taking the tour early in the morning is that the sun is in our face and it is difficult to take pictures facing east. On the other hand, it was cool and pleasant even though it was midsummer.
The West Rim - View

After the visit we returned by helicopter to Boulder city and were taken to the hotel in Vegas. We still had time to have a Brunch and see a show in the evening. 

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