The Grand Canyon had been on our ‘must-see’ list since we began planning our trip back in the UK and ended up fitting it in in the middle of our Sin City sojourn. But the issue wasn’t when we should visit, but how to get there?
Our first thought was to take the helicopter that flies you to the eastern ‘shallow end’ of the canyon where it lands for half an hour for the passengers to enjoy lunch and a glass of champagne, but having got here, we started looking at more ambitious options.
Favourite for a long time was to travel by train from Williams, Arizona, to the south rim. It sounded fun since the train would be a vintage one and has entertainment such as the cowboy gunfight (9:00 to 9:30am).
Two things eventually put us off. First there isn’t much to see from the train. It crosses a tree lined plateau for most of the lines 64 mile length with nothing to indicate that you’re about to come across an enormous hole in the ground.
Just like the poor, unsuspecting pioneers who must have cursed when they reached the canyon in their covered wagons.
The other problem was time. Vegas to Williams by coach is five hours, then an overnight stay before the train journey, another overnight stay and an even longer coach ride back. A full three days out of our schedule.
As usual, it was Marj who came up with the answer – we would simply fly to the Grand Canyon.
She and Ant know an English pilot who is now a manager at Scenic Airlines and he helped to organise one of the most memorable days of our lives.
We were taken by coach to Boulder City Airport which is around 25 miles from Vegas where we boarded a Twin Otter for the hour long flight to Grand Canyon Airport in the east.
I’ve traveled a lot by air over the years in both jet and prop planes, large and small, but never I have I seen such a spectacular view as we had from 10,000 feet.
All impressive stuff in its own right, but even more so when seen from above in my opinion. I hope the photos dotted around the post gives you some idea.
Mrs P and I were two of just three passengers in the eight-seater helicopter piloted by Gavin who looked far too young to be in charge or a whirlybird.
Again, the views were spectacular and the ride so smooth that Mrs P forgot her previous reservations.
We had an hour or so at Mather Point to look out over the canyon, but I guarantee that only seen from the air do you get a true feeling of its grandeur.
Unless you take the ten-day rafting tour down the Colorado River of course. Maybe next time.