The Grand Canyon: One of the world’s great natural wonders
A day’s trip to the Grand Canyon from the city of Phoenix in Arizona turned out to be one of the best outdoor experiences of my life. (Second to meeting my partner, G, on a Munro, obviously!). You can read about the facts and stats of this great natural wonder. And for details of my own experience at the Grand Canyon, read xxx
The incredible Grand Canyon
The stats are impressive: The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide and reaches a depth of more than a mile in places.
The Grand Canyon is named as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Yet it is impossible to grasp the sheer magnitude and dimensions of this geological phenomenon until you are right there, at the edge or inside the canyon. Read about my trip to the Grand Canyon.
The giant hole in the ground has been created over millions of years by the constant erosion of the Colorado River. It’s thought this started to happen some five to six million years ago.
The Grand Canyon is divided into the North Rim, South Rim and West Rim destinations. The South and North rims are inside the Grand Canyon National Park, while the West Rim in the south-west corner of the canyon is owned by the Hualapai Tribe. This is where the epic Skywalk, a glass platform positioned 4000ft above the canyon floor, is located.
The South Rim is where 90% of visitors head. It has an airport and rail service and is easiest to reach from Arizona cities, such as William and Flagstaff, as well as Las Vegas in the neighbouring state of Nevada.
The North Rim is located closer to another neighbouring state, Utah, and has stunning views, but it’s not as accessible and bad weather often closes the road here.
The West Rim area is becoming increasingly popular because of the Skywalk but it’s at the far western end of Grand Canyon and a long drive, some 250 miles by road, from the South Rim.However, there is a solution…
A day trip by plane and helicopter to the Grand Canyon
My whistlestop tour of Arizona required a convenient route from the city of Phoenix to the Grand Canyon. I came across 360 Adventures in Arizona. They recommended Westwind Air Service, with tours to the Grand Canyon that start from Deer Valley airport in Phoenix and Sedona.
I took a look through all of their many trips and decided the Grand Canyon Skywalk Adventure Tour – West Rim was for me. It’s not cheap ($699) but having done it I would say it’s well worth the money.
The trip included:
- Return flight (75 minutes each way) on a small plane from Phoenix to the Canyon West Airport, located at the west end of the Grand Canyon on the Arizona/Nevada border.
- A narrative tour, revealing history and geology of the wider area, while flying.
- Helicopter ride to the bottom of the canyon. See my video in this blog.
- Pontoon boat ride on the Colorado River.
- Entrance to the Skywalk.
- Time to explore the Indian Village
- Guano point for lunch and a walk along a high point of the canyon edge.
- Pilot/guide to look after the group.
Commissioned and owned by the Hualapai Indian tribe, the Skywalk is an impressive feat of engineering. It was conceived by David Jin, a Las Vegas investor, who had been involved with tourism and the Hualapai Nation.
The Skywalk is a semi circle of glass that projects 70ft from the canyon rim and is some 4000ft above the canyon base.
The project initially sparked controversy due to the commercialisation of the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon, but proponents argued that it is part of a larger plan to address the tribe’s high unemployment and poverty rates.
The Skywalk is managed by the Hualapai Tribe and located on tribal lands. Since opening in March 2007, more than 300,000 visitors have walked the Grand Canyon Skywalk each year.
It can apparently hold 822 people each weighing 91kg but a maximum occupancy at one time is 120 people.
Find out more about a trip to the Grand Canyon with Westwind Air Service in my blog: xxx