Grand Canyon is one of a kind

1 May 22 | Lifestyle

The Grand Canyon is a bucket-list destination and it comes as no surprise that almost six million people visit this natural wonder annually. Irma Green shares the thrill of the helicopter trip she took to the canyon a few years ago.

To be brutally honest, I didn’t know how amazing the Grand Canyon was going to be until we were in it. It is just too difficult to grasp the vastness, grandeur and magnificence of the park and no brochure, video or photo can truly paint a picture of what it looks like.

Our trip took off from Vegas, where we were spending a few days. While Vegas may be one of the greatest entertainment hubs in the world with its crazy, high energy night life, casinos, shows and famous people, I couldn’t quite find my mojo in the city.

I was thus looking forward to escaping from its energy and the helicopter trip offered the perfect opportunity.

We were a group of six guests on the helicopter and our pilot took his toddler son with for the ride. The first jaw-dropping moment was flying over the famous Hoover Dam. Built during the great Depression, thousands of men and their families came to Black Canyon to tame the Colorado River and, in less than five years, in this harsh and barren land, they built the largest dam of its time. It remains a world-renowned structure and has been rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of country’s seven modern engineering wonders.

Our group of five choppers flew together and as we entered the canyon, the reflection of these machines disappeared and looked like tiny flies against the majestic canyon walls. The contrasts of colour caused by shades, vegetation, the sun and water flowing below was beyond imagination.

I was in awe as our formation of choppers manoeuvred their way over mountain top into the valleys or the canyon where nature gave us its best show. The park brochure describes it as a treasure unlike anything else on earth and I couldn’t say it better.

The choppers then descended and landed on a smallish piece of land overlooking the canyon. We had the opportunity to walk around, explore the vicinity of our picnic site and then enjoyed a bit of champagne and something to nibble on.

We wished time could stand still, but when our time was up in the valley, we took off and I was now seated in front with the pilot. With uninterrupted views, I drank in the splendour as we snaked out of the canyon. Halfway back to Vegas we had to refuel, and we landed at a barren desert site.

It only took a few minutes before we set off to Vegas where the sun was setting. The chopper flew in over The Strip, where we had a bird’s eye view of the hustle and bustle down below. It was truly stunning.

The helicopter trip only explores a tiny bit of the canyon and how wonderful would it be to revisit one day to see more?

More about the Grand Canyon:

The canyon and adjacent rim are contained within Grand Canyon National Park, the Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument, the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the Havasupai Indian Reservation and the Navajo Nation. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of the preservation of the Grand Canyon area and visited it on numerous occasions to hunt and enjoy the scenery.

There are essentially three main rims of the Grand Canyon National Park – South, West, and North Rims, with the East Rim reaching out more towards the Lake Powell area, which includes attractions like Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Traditionally, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, accessed through Arizona, was the best way to see Grand Canyon. But with flights to Las Vegas being so affordable in recent years, many visitors chose to visit the West Rim, which features the Grand Canyon Skywalk, the glass bridge hanging over the canyon edge.

227 Miles

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long

18 Miles

Up to 18 miles (29 km) wide

6 093 Feet

It attains a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet or 1,857 meters)

Five things you should know

1. The oldest human artifacts found in the Grand Canyon are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. There has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time.

2. The Grand Canyon was carved over some six million years. Geological activity and erosion by the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon as we know it today. It is one of the most studied landscapes in the world, with extensive fossil records, a multitude of geological features and rich archaeological history.

3. The Grand Canyon itself can influence the weather. The Grand Canyon has an elevation spanning from around 2,000 feet to over 8,000 feet, allowing it to experience a variety of weather conditions. As a result, the temperature generally increases by 5.5 degrees with each 1,000-feet loss in elevation.

4. Hit the trail for some of the best views in the country. Mule trips, rafting the Colorado River and stargazing — there is so much to do at the Grand Canyon. If you can only do one thing: Take a hike. Whether it’s long or short, all trails come with an exceptional view.

5. Controlled fires are good for the canyon’s landscape. Fire has been a part of the Colorado Plateau ecosystem for thousands of years. It naturally thins the forest, recycles nutrients into the soil and stimulates new plant growth. Fire managers at Grand Canyon National Park work to strike a balance between restoring and maintaining natural processes associated with fire and protecting human life and property.

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