I love dramatic landscapes; and during my first visit to the United States last month, I was treated to a visual feast of the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, on a scenic helicopter ride from Las Vegas.
We decided to fly with Maverick Helicopters and went for the Wind Dancer Tour, approximately 4 hours from hotel pick-up to drop-off. The Wind Dancer flight route includes Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Fortification Hill, landing in the Grand Canyon (West Rim) on Hualapai Indian Territory, Bowl of Fire and the Las Vegas Strip.
About 10 minutes after pick-up, we arrived at Maverick’s terminal, next to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. We were weighed and given brief safety instructions before departing on a sleek ECO-Star helicopter with Wayne, our friendly and informative pilot, and fellow passengers.
As we lifted off, we caught sight of the airport and soon after, Lake Las Vegas. Then, we flew above Lake Mead (the country’s largest reservoir) and the magnificent Hoover Dam. Right after that we passed Fortification Hill, an extinct volcano.
All around were interesting rock formations and colors (due to Copper, Gypsum and Sandstone to name a few). I saw steep cliffs and slopes, and rich, fascinating terrain in the vast expanse of the Mojave desert. The large wraparound windows allowed for some impressive views.
And then, there it was – The Grand Canyon!
At over 400km long, up to 29km wide and up to about 1.8km deep, the Grand Canyon is in the state of Arizona and is inhabited by Native American tribes. It is unsure exactly when, but the Grand Canyon was naturally formed millions of years ago by a combination of factors. The Colorado River started to carve into the Grand Canyon, and the Colorado plateau uplift further accelerated the continuous erosion by the Colorado River, thus exposing over a billion years of history visible through the several layers of sedimentary rocks.
The Grand Canyon looks pretty good for its extremely ripe age, right?
A short while later, our helicopter descended and landed splendidly at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, about a kilometer deep, on Maverick’s landing spot, with the Colorado River less than 100 meters below. The water is reddish-brown in color due to the sediments.
We walked around admiring the striking and imposing landscapes, as our pilot, Wayne, set up our snacks, which included fruits, vegetables, cheese and crackers, along with champagne. He also kindly offered to take pictures for everyone!
Half an hour later, we got back in our helicopter and were on our way back to Vegas. We were asked to rotate seats so that everyone got a chance to sit in front – quite fair! The amazing vistas didn’t cease just yet. After alighting for a quick refueling stop, Lake Mead once again showed itself, with its beautiful blue water and white shoreline.
On the return route, we also flew over the Bowl of Fire. Red sandstone is responsible for the fiery orange and red rock formations.
Pictures don’t do justice, so I’ve tried to recreate the experience with a highlights video, with a fitting soundtrack. I love Coldplay’s Paradise, and this apt song was among the few that played through headphones as we gaped at the panoramic views. I hope you like it!
Even though the West Rim is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, it was great to catch glimpse of the grandeur and beauty of a world wonder. The Grand Canyon truly rocks (pun is always intended). Saying it is massive would be an understatement, and although I barely scratched its stunning surface, I was treated to sublime views and had a memorable experience flying over wonderful and vivid landscapes, and hope to delve deeper (puns are fun!) the next time.
Thanks to Maverick Helicopters for the complimentary tour and a wonderful time!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are my own.
And if you haven’t had enough (who could have enough of the Grand Canyon?), here are a few more pictures that also deserved some face time.
Have you visited the Grand Canyon? Tell me about your experience! If you haven’t, would you like to someday? Which natural wonder has wowed you?