After an eventful party at Lake Powell involving our trek tour and another four trek tours, we arrived at the Mather Campground in Grand Canyon Village. After we had settled into camp, we decided to have a look around the Grand Canyon Visitors Centre. We were due to have a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and so I was really looking forward to this spectacular birds-eye view of the Grand Canyon and knew it would be one of the highlights of my trip to America. As the weather was stormy, we decided to have another one of those delicious American pizzas and then a chilled-out evening at the IMAX Theatre inside the visitor centre. The movie theatre has a 6-story-high by 82-foot-wide screen showing a documentary on the Grand Canyon. The feature presentation was called Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets and was a highly informative documentary about the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is a natural formation with layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history. The Grand Canyon’s scale is vast and is 277-miles long and 10 miles across and at the bottom of the one-mile deep canyon roars the mighty Colorado River which sweeps through the canyon below creating white-water rapids. Viewpoints include Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station and architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and her Desert View Watchtower. Teddy Roosevelt called the Grand Canyon one of the great sights that every American should see and in 1919, Congress designated the Grand Canyon a National Park. Sixty years later the Grand Canyon was declared a World Heritage Site to be preserved and protected. Six million people visit the Grand Canyon National Park each year to marvel at the canyon’s jaw-dropping beauty and to see how the Colorado River carved through the canyon. Today there are also at least twelve Native American tribes living in or near the canyon. One tribe is the Havasupai which are restricted to a small reservation at the bottom of the canyon. Climate change threatens the future of the park due to the level of water which has dropped by 16%.
We arrived at the airport and were due to take a Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter tour. The company has the largest and most experienced Grand Canyon helicopter tours and has been flying tours over the Grand Canyon since 1965. Before we boarded the helicopter, we were weighed so that the weight of the five people in my group could be distributed in the helicopter. Unfortunately, as I was one of the lightest, so I ended up in the middle. The other lightest person ended up sitting next to the pilot. I was pretty jealous to be honest but as the helicopter had oversized windows, I could still see a lot. We ducked as we boarded the helicopter and thankfully the helicopter took off smoothly and quickly gained speed zipping forward. We also had to put on some headphones to protect our ears from the noise of the rotors. As the helicopter gained height it flew over the Kaibab National Forest and then across the deepest part of the South Rim. The views were breathtakingly beautiful and worth every penny. From the sky you could see the red layered rocks and the mighty Colorado River cascading through the canyon. We also viewed the Tower of Ra and Vishnu rock formations as we flew back through the spectacular Dragon’s Corridor. I tried to take as much footage of the Grand Canyon on my camcorder as I could as I wanted to remember as much of the 30-minute flight as possible! After the 30-minute flight we touched down smoothly on the helipad and when I was free of the rotor blades, I managed to get a photo of the helicopter. We also had a professional photograph taken in front of the helicopter as a group and I was happy to purchase it afterwards.
Unfortunately, the storms returned and so we left the Mather Campground at the Grand Canyon Village earlier than was intended and made our way further into the Arizona desert. We were able to cut down the distance travelled, and this enabled more time by Lake Pleasant after horse riding in the Sonoran Desert. However, despite leaving a little earlier than planned the helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon alone was worth the airfare to America.