Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon (South Rim)

Grand Canyon from HelicopterThere’s a big hole in America. I’m not talking about the hole in the economy out of which all the money is going or about the hole in Oprah’s face into which food is shoved*. I am, in fact, talking about the gigantic hole across the south-west of America, the Grand Canyon. It’s pretty big. Almost as big as the hole my brother and I dug on a beach on Costa Brava back in 1997. For anyone who doesn’t know where the south-west of America is, here’s a handy map:

What States does the Grand Canyon cover?

I went to this big hole while I was in Las Vegas – where I got married, got divorced and snorted cocaine off a toilet seat, all of which involved a hooker called Cindy (I might’ve made this part up).

I arrived in Las Vegas after missing my scheduled bus from LA, which totally wasn’t my fault. So I got to Las Vegas later than expected, about 11 p.m. I took a taxi from the Greyhound bus station to the Imperial Palace mega-resort – as they like to be called – and checked into my room. I then checked a few travel plans and realised that my day-trip to the Grand Canyon was the following day with pick-up at 5 a.m. I could only afford one night, which was a weekday, and Memorial Weekend prices skyrocketed from about $28 to $128. So I was in that hotel for less than six hours, from a little after 11 p.m. to a little before 5 a.m, which was plenty enough time to shower, get a hooker and do that stuff with her (which may or may not have happened), then shower again.

Anyway, part of the Grand Canyon day trip experience includes a visit to the Visitor Centre. Thrill a minute, huh? But I’d blown the last of my student loan money on a helicopter tour so while everyone else was learning about the history of the Grand Canyon and how it was formed me and an Australian couple were flying over that bad boy in a helicopter — the South Rim if anyone’s been there and wants to know. Here’s the helicopter:

Helicopter for Grand Canyon Tour

You know how most people these days don’t pay any attention to safety demonstrations on flights because they’ve seen them a thousand times before? Well, during the safety video about what to do and what not to do in the event of a helicopter emergency, I was blasé about the whole thing because I knew it all having done a helicopter tour before, over Manhattan.

But even though I’d been through the process before, actually taking off, flying over a forest of trees and then seeing the hole approach…

Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour First Sight South Rim

…Well, bub, you have to experience it for yourself. It’s a feeling that doesn’t compare to anything else. And once you’re out there, over the hole…

Grand Canyon Colorado River from Helicopter

…and…

Grand Canyon Colorado River from Helicopter

…It’s a perfect place for someone to hide a body, say, by pushing them out of a helicopter.   In addition to myself and the Aussies, there were also two Asian girls. If it came to voting, I think the Aussies would’ve had my back as I’d chatted to them on the bus. They were nice.

After the helicopter tour, which only lasted about half an hour (and it felt a lot, lot less than that), we caught up with the others at a couple of look-out points. You can get some nice photos from those kinds of places…

Grand Canyon House South Rim

…but it’s the Niagara Falls syndrome all over again. It’s too busy. Everyone is fighting for spots at the railing and trying to take photos of each other trying to make it look like they weren’t part of a massive tour group all trying the same thing.

Tourists at Grand Canyon South Rim Lookout

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a stunning place, and I preferred it infinitely to Niagara Falls. But it’s better if you ‘do it’ in a special way – a hike, a helicopter tour or a road trip to a quiet part of the place where you’re not surrounded by hundreds of other people.

*I apologise to Oprah. She’s great.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. This is absolutely on my bucket list. Helicopters give you the best perspective on things!

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  2. kalabalu says:

    what a view !! whew!!

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  3. Inge L says:

    I did this last November! Did they play “Fly me to the moon??” And did they show you the Alligator in the retention pond?? Glad you had another great U.S. experience!

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    1. ambigram0 says:

      “Fly me to the moon” they did play, but what’s the alligator retention pond? Whereabouts is it/what’s it for? Sounds interesting!

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  4. Bron says:

    “Everyone is fighting for spots at the railing and trying to take photos of each other trying to make it look like they weren’t part of a massive tour group all trying the same thing.”

    Ah, all too true! You do feel pretty pleased with yourself when you can pull it off though. 😉

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  5. Great photos, thank you.

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  6. The best time to be at the lookouts is sunrise. When I drove cross-country a couple years ago, we got to the Grand Canyon around 4am, so we went out to the points, got choice seats (being the first ones there), and then got sick pictures at sunrise.

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    1. ambigram0 says:

      Ah man, I’m so jealous! I would *love* to do a road trip across/around America because it gives you so much more freedom than any other way – you can get to the best spots at the best times.

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      1. I agree! I’ll have to do one again with someone who wants to do it that way! I was helping my friend move to Minnesota, and he just wanted to get there as fast as possible. Luckily I hijacked the driving a couple times so that we went to the Grand Canyon, 4 Corners, and Mount Rushmore 🙂

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  7. Emilia says:

    Breathtaking photos! I’m sure the Grand Canyon is impressive under any circumstances, but it seems positively beyond words from a helicopter (very much as I would be if I was in a helicopter. no matter how gorgeous it may be, a helicopter ride is not in my future). This posts just reminds me how I need to put Grand Canyon on my travel to do list. 🙂

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