Words cannot describe the Grand Canyon. Mere letters on a page, strung together whimsically here, are simply insignificant and cannot express what you feel, standing on the rim gazing into the giant abyss. Not even photos do it justice, only framing a portion of its magnitude and robbing it of its three-dimensional awe and deafening silence as you stand on a cliffs edge watching the shifting hues of sunlight reflect off layer upon layer of ancient rock. However, I have tried my best here.
These photos are from a tour I did from Scottsdale Arizona. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon twice. The first time, I hired a car and drove my quintessentially American, red Mustang from Scottsdale up through Flagstaff to the canyon’s East rim. I remember pulling the Mustang into the car park and being paralysed by goosebumps and tingles as, for the first time, I saw the way the land simply fell away in sheer monstrous, colourful cliffs. I knew it was ‘grand’ but what I saw, gazing into it, was something ancient and sacred. It was like nothing I have ever seen.
I returned to Arizona a year later and I simply had to go back… However, As incredible experience as it was, I couldn’t shake the memories of the long 6-hour drive and fighting jet lag to stay awake on the dark freeway back to Scottsdale that haunted me. So, I decided to do the Canyon in style and booked a one-day tour from Scottsdale Airport.
The tour, operated by Westwind Air Service, started with a scenic flight from Scottsdale to the Grand Canyon Airport which sits precariously on the Canyon’s rim (pictured below). On arrival, I switched from a plane to a helicopter that dramatically fell away from a helipad on the edge of a cliff, taking me deep into the canyon. From there, I got on a boat for a short cruise down the peaceful Colorado River with only the sound of rippling water and the occasional improvised crumbling of rocky cliffs and the plod of canyon rocks falling into the green river. After this, I took another helicopter out of the canyon, followed by a bus to the ‘Sky Walk’, a glass walkway that hangs out over the edge of the canyon. Here you strap on fabric slippers over your shoes (so you don’t scratch the glass), before edging yourself out into the canyon. A glance down between your feet, reveals what appears to be a tiny Colorado river 1450 metres below you on the canyon’s floor… It’s an exhilarating experience! After a lunch with one of the best views I’ve seen in all my travels, it was back on the plane to return to Scottsdale for the evening. What an amazing day!
If you want to see as much of the canyon as possible in one day and to get down inside its ancient rocky bottom, then this is the best way to do it! Most tour operators from Scottsdale have arrangements with staff and facilities at the canyon which means you jump all the queues and spend more time seeing the canyon from every angle possible and avoid the tourist crowds. I hope to return again one day soon! If you have any questions about the Grand Canyon and the tour, please see the ‘snapshot’ details below or feel free to contact me.
Tour Company: Westwind Air Service
Tour Taken: ‘Grand Canyon Skywalk Adventure Tour’
Price: $667 USD pp at time of writing.
Where: Pheonix, Arizona USA
- Scenic, narrated flight from Phoenix to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon
- Helicopter to the bottom of the canyon
- Pontoon boat ride on the Colorado River
- Entrance to the Glass Skywalk
- Time to explore the Indian Village
- Guano point for lunch and a ‘walkabout’ out to the high point
- Services of your pilot/guide throughout the day to ensure everything runs smoothly
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