One of America’s best known attractions, the Grand Canyon, is one of the largest canyons in the world. Here the Colorado river has carved out a valley which is up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile in depth. The vistas that can be seen from its rim reveal magnificent bands of colourful rock, displaying millions of years of geological formations and erosions.
The extensive Grand Canyon National Park touches 4 states – Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. A visit to the canyon from the South Rim offers the classic National Park experience – with ranger talks and hop-on, hop-off shuttles. North Rim is popular with hikers and campers, due to its more remote setting. The West Rim in Nevada, which is run by the Hualapai Tribe, is an easily accessible 150 miles from the Vegas Strip, and the area that I choose to visit.
Wanting to see an aerial view of the immense canyon I chose a “ flighseeing trip” which departed from an airstrip close to Vegas. The flight revealed magnificent aerial views of the desert, the immense Hoover Dam and its famous wall, built during the Great Depression, which is an attraction in itself. Soon the canyon itself came into view and we enjoyed a short scenic flight over the Western Rim.
Going all out I then climbed aboard a helicopter, with large glass windows and flooring. As the chopper’s blades began to turn, whipping the nearby plants into motion, our party whooped as our pilot took off, soaring along the canyon’s edge and dipping straight down into the depths of the gorge below. From the bottom of the Canyon we boarded a boat which floated pleasantly down the fast-flowing Colorado river, while we marveled at the towering gorge walls above us. After another adrenaline-pumping helicopter flight, we landed close to the famous Skywalk on the Western Rim. The glass-floored, horseshoe bridge extends 70 feet over the canyon’s edge, offering incredible views over the gorge and across to the sacred Eagle Point site. One always imagines that desert scenery will be boring in its monochromaticity but when immersed in such a setting you soon become aware of the myriads of beiges, browns, reds, oranges and yellows that surround you. These impressions will remain with me forever.