Being named one of the Seven Natural Wonders Of The World, there's no question that the Grand Canyon is a spectacular sight. Its sheer scale is overwhelming, with colours and rock formations that have to be seen to believed.
We began our journey to the Grand Canyon early in the morning, driving the four and a half hour trip from Las Vegas to reach the South Rim. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon airport, as we were going to experience this natural wonder from the sky. We flew with Papillion, which offers a wide range of tours, of which we opted for the North Canyon Tour. This is a 30 minute flight over the Kaibab National Forest and into the deepest and widest part of the Grand Canyon.
I had never been in a helicopter before, so this was quite an exiting experience in itself. It was a swift turnaround from safety briefing through to heading into the chopper and then taking off. The helicopter holds six passengers and offers a narrated journey while you fly, which comes in different languages. Flying over the surrounding forestry, we became more and more accustomed to being in the air, finally approaching the canyon in the ultimate style. This part of the canyon showed no sign of human life, being completely untouched and in its natural form.
It was impressive to see the range of land, from the overgrown green filled ledges through to the baron red stone surfaces. Being around 11 miles across and nearly a mile deep, the audio tour was really useful to add information to what we were witnessing. Although we were in a helicopter, the experience felt very serene, as the beauty we were observing felt very peaceful. It was a really stunning experience, and something I will not soon forget.
Back on the ground, we drove into The Grand Canyon National Park to further discover the land on foot. My first impression was how busy it was in comparison to the area we had just flown over. The park has a trail built around a large stretch of the south rim - making it really accessible for all ages, allowing whole families to enjoy the amazing views. You are given a handy map on entering the park, which guides you to the main points of interest, so we first headed to Mather Point which was right next to the visitor centre.
The view from the ledge of the Grand Canyon is truly awe-inspiring, something which a photograph doesn't effectively capture. Although you are surrounded by others, the serenity of the land once again takes over and you can just stare deep into the canyon. With the trail being very far around the canyon, you can quite easily escape the crowds, and every point offers a completely different perspective. One view we particularly enjoyed was The Grandview, which is the location that it's believed the first people ever set eyes on the canyon back in 1540. Along the road we also saw our fair share of wildlife including elks, eagles and squirrels. It was great to see them enjoying the land next to us.
As the sun set over the canyon, we were once again treated to a visual feast of the sunlight breaking through the clouds and transforming the sky to a fiery red. The colours hit the canyon rocks, morphing them into a completely new form and we were once again left amazed. I feel as though I saw about ten reincarnations of the Grand Canyon in one day. I suppose that is the treasure of a natural space of such a great scale. It's certainly somewhere that should be seen through your own eyes, so if you get that chance to visit, I strongly suggest you take it.
Images: Richard Brownlie-Marshall
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