You’ve quite possibly seen some of the photos that we’ve posted of our trip so far but we wanted to tell you a little more about the trip of a lifetime, a visit to The Grand Canyon.
If you visit Las Vegas or any of the surrounding cities, a visit to the glorious canyon is a must on your itinerary. The only problem is which package, which rim, to visit.
A bit of background:
Geologists predict that The Grand Canyon is approximately 17 million years old. The Colorado river which flows through the canyon, is thought to have eroded the rock which has given it it’s formation; this and the effects of the Colorado plateau lifting. The Grand Canyon is: 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. The various geological features and rock types give The Grand Canyon it’s glorious colour, which will often appear to change in colour due to many factors such as lighting and weather, and appearance.
There are three accessible, tourist locations; the South rim, the West rim and the North rim.
The West Rim; is the shortest distance from Las Vegas at 122 miles away. The West rim is the home to the Hualapai (meaning people of the tall pines) tribe, who own 108 miles of the Grand Canyon, was first opened to visitors in 1988. This is the tour that we went on and went on the ultimate package; coach ride to and from the Canyon, a photo stop at Hoover Dam, a helicopter ride down into the canyon with a pontoon ride down the colorado river- where there are more opportunities to capture the canyon from a different and spectacular viewpoint, skywalk, lunch and an opportunity to stop at other locations for alternative views; this includes the Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point (home of the skywalk) and Guano Point. Note that your time is considerably limited on the excursion we booked- our driver allocated us 4 hours and with queues likely at the helicopter tours and skywalk you will, very unfortunately, not have much time at the other locations.
The helicopter tour (I hate to fly so this was something I was quite nervous about) was outstanding; the trip was smooth and comfortable and offered absolutely breathtaking, alternative viewpoints. It is the only opportunity to see the Grand Canyon from the base; which when surrounded by it’s beauty is indescribable. There is also a significant temperature difference as there is very little breeze flowing through it’s base so you’ll certainly notice the difference in the heat! The boat ride lasts approximately 20 minutes (there and back) but it isn’t all continuous driving as the operator does make various stops/slows the pace considerably to allow for many photo opportunities.
Once ascended back to the top of the canyon, once again by helicopter, you need to hop onto the shuttle bus (which is frequent enough at all locations; you are never waiting for long if at all) and head to the next location- if you take the same package as us, you will need to miss out on the Hualapai Ranch as there simply isn’t time.
We headed straight to the Skywalk where there is a considerable wait before you can have access- this is perhaps the most frustrating part of the trip as it really feels like time wasted (we had to wait 20-30 minutes) when there is so much to see and do and so little time to do it. Moreover, when on a group tour, the photographer wants to take photos from many different angles on the Skywalk (so you have plenty of choice when you want to buy one) but again eats into the limited time you have- I highly recommend getting a photo taken and purchasing it as it is the only opportunity to get a ‘professional’ photo/photo at all as you can’t take cameras or phones onto the Skywalk. We opted for only a few photos to be taken in one location so that we could head off to the next location. I am pleased that the Skywalk was included in the package (which I suppose forced us to do it so that we had value for money) but would have been disappointed if we would have had to pay for an add on or felt that it would be something missed if not. This is because I didn’t feel like I was walking in the air (which is how it is described as) and only feels like you are standing on a railed edge of the canyon rather than actually over it. However, it was, again, a different perspective to the canyon tour and as it is in a different location to the main base- there is more variation in the colour and rock formations. I will also say, that is is known as Eagle Point for a reason!
After the Skywalk we headed to Guano point which was highly recommended by our driver for a spectacular view to have lunch in; he was quite right (the lunch voucher did permit us to have lunch at all 3 locations), the view was picturesque; which, as you will notice from the photos, looks faux and that we can’t possibly be there. This is part of it’s beauty; it is so beautiful, you think it can’t possibly be real. We ate our lunch at a super speed (as we had only 30 minutes remaining before we needed to be on our bus back to Vegas) so that we could grab even more outstanding photos (and play around with the rocks (there is lots of climbing to be done on this side of the canyon), including the ones sat on the edge.
The most frustrating part was the lack of time available. I could see no reason why we could not spend another hour or two on location (particularly as we were an hour late leaving as some of the visitors on our coach were unapologetically late and still able to arrive back into Vegas by 6:30pm). This would have allowed for a more leisurely lunch at Guano point, an opportunity to explore Hualapai Ranch and enjoyed all of the locations more fully.
If you are interested in taking the same excursion as us, we can’t recommend highly enough the outstanding service Papillon delivered; our driver was highly knowledgeable (having worked on the Grand Canyon previously), considerate and generally lovely to be around. Our trip included the coach trip to and from, helicopter ride, pontoon boat ride, skywalk, shuttle buses and lunch for £370 total (for two people).
It was a magnificent site and well worth the visit and as you can see, extremely excellent value for money.