Since it's Norwegian cousin's vacation, I left it all up to her. For someone who shuns museums in favor of clubbing, shopping, and beaches, I was quite surprised when she said she wanted to see the Grand Canyon. Well, I think the part that really appealed to her was the helicopter tour, descending 4,000 feet below the rim. It would also be her first helicopter ride. My second. And well, if we're going to the Grand Canyon, we might as well sail up the Colorado River and visit some other points of interest too.
See the little shadow of the plane at the bottom of this photo? It was tiny!
So we were up very early again and back out at the Boulder City airport to catch a half-hour flight to Grand Canyon West airport. It was one of those tiny, tiny commuter planes. It fit a group of five Spaniards, half a dozen Irishmen, and me and my cousin. And we had a woman pilot! Cool!
We passed Hoover Dam. Yay! Now we're flying over Arizona. So my cousin can say she's been to another state. :)
OK, tell me you're not getting visions of Mars and Ray Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" when you see this landscape?
My first glimpse of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon West, the tourist area in the northwest corner of the reservation, is owned and operated by the Hualapai Nation (People of the Tall Pines). The Hualapai were traditionally hunter-gatherers who have lived here for 12,000 years and once owned 5 million acres. Today they own slightly less than 1 million acres and a 108-mile stretch of the Colorado River.
Our helicopter is the one on the right. IT WAS REALLY, REALLY LOUD! This is the only part of the Grand Canyon where you can take a helicopter down to the ground floor.
My camera is OK for food photos but cannot do any justice to the breadth and beauty of the Grand Canyon.
Here's a brief YouTube video of the helicopter descent.
Tell me this doesn't look like a Vietnam War film of helicopters landing.
I'm so glad we decided to take the package that let us out 4,000 feet to the ground floor. Such a trip! Literally and figuratively.
We took a brief trip up the Colorado River.
My tour guide said she's the only one who sings. Yay. Apologies for the poor quality of the YouTube video. My new camera apparently took up too much space so I couldn't upload it to YouTube. I had to record it with my old camera so you're seeing me filming my laptop video.
After the boat ride, we took the helicopter back up, and then a short bus ride to Eagle Point where the Grand Canyon Skywalk is located. Hmm. From all the controversy, it doesn't stick out nearly as much as I thought it would...
We were all set to go do it, but it cost $25 and we weren't allowed to take our cameras. So we'd have to pay the professional photographer if we wanted photo souvenirs. I guess if we hadn't just gone skydiving, it would have seemed more appealing. Instead, we opted to take lots of photos for free near the edge.
Can you see the eagle with its wings spanned wide?
No railing! Don't get too close! Although my crazy cousin took several photos with her legs dangling over the rim! She told me to do the same. No way!
One last glimpse of Eagle Point and the Skywalk.
The Indian Village includes reconstructions of traditional houses of various Southwest tribes. The pointy brush and log houses are the Hualapai dwellings.
After that, we went to Guano Point for a quick lunch of pulled pork? beef?, cole slaw, dry chicken breast, corn on the cob, cornbread, strawberry cake, and lemonade. I was really hoping for some fry bread. :( The food was meh. The view was spectacular.
What is guano?
Bat droppings. During the mid-20th century, the caves here were heavily excavated for the bat droppings that would later be used for explosives and fertilizer. Supposedly, the guano was also used for mascara. Ewww!
Can you see the tiny person in orange at the bottom right of this photo? That's why I said it's hard to convey scale of everything with these pictures.
Well, that's it folks. My cousin wanted to explore the cave but we didn't have time. Had to catch the bus back to the airport.
From pick-up at our hotel in Vegas to drop-off, the trip took about 7 hours. So next time you're in Vegas, step away from the slots and buffets and try something new.
Even though it would have only been a 3-hour drive, I'm really glad I didn't do that. My brother said his wife's aunt took a van-load of visitors and they broke down along the way because the roads are unpaved. And temperatures topped 100 degrees. Eek!
Also, I think the combo package ended up being a pretty good deal since it included pick-up from hotel to Boulder City, plane ride to Grand Canyon West, helicopter ride to ground floor, boat trip up the Colorado River, helicopter ride back up to rim, bus ride to Eagle Point, bus ride to Guano Point, lunch, bus ride back to airport, plane trip back to Boulder City, bus back to hotel. This was the Grand Canyon Adventure package offered by Best Tours, but there's tons of tour companies operating in Vegas if you're interested.
1301 Airport Rd.
Boulder City, NV 89005
Destination Grand Canyon West
6206 West Desert Inn, Ste. B
Las Vegas, NV 89146