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“So close, yet so far” — words made famous by Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll. Everyone has a moment when they get close to achieving a dream, and they just can’t make it happen. One of mine almost happened in Las Vegas.
My husband and I had always wanted to see Grand Canyon National Park, but we couldn’t figure out how to fit it into a busy weekend visit. Getting to the canyon and back by car or bus would have been a 12-hour day, and we didn’t have that kind of time. The solution ultimately came in the form of a Grand Canyon Picnic helicopter tour with Sundance Helicopters.
For clients with a full schedule, a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon is ideal. Our morning picnic tour took less than four hours from start to finish, including a champagne breakfast stop inside the Grand Canyon. We were back at our Las Vegas hotel before noon.
A helicopter tour is also a fantastic way to see the Grand Canyon, one of Mother Nature’s true masterpieces. When clients make the long journey by car or bus, they can only stand at the edge and gaze out. But when they travel by helicopter, they can see the magnificent geology from all angles, as they fly both above the canyon and inside it. Additionally, stopping for breakfast inside the canyon provides an opportunity to explore the canyon floor on foot and take in the view from the bottom looking up.
Our day began with a transfer by stretch limousine from our hotel to McCarran Las Vegas International Airport. After learning safety procedures and filling out the appropriate waivers, we boarded the helicopter with two other passengers and put on our headsets. Our pilot, Fred, was an excellent tour guide, and he described the scenery we passed and answered questions along the way.
We flew over the Las Vegas strip, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Mojave Desert before we reached the brim of the Grand Canyon. My husband and I had visited Hoover Dam the day before, but it was another thing entirely to see the 726-foot-high and 1,244-foot-long dam from the air — it enables viewers to really appreciate its size and sparkling-blue reservoir. At 112 miles long, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the U.S., and we had a bird’s-eye view of its blue waters.
Of course, the real excitement happened when we flew over, and then inside, the Grand Canyon. Upon landing, Fred got the picnic breakfast ready — each person got his or her own picnic basket with champagne or sparkling juice — while we did some exploring and took in the sights 3,200 feet below the rim.
Toasting our Grand Canyon adventure, we agreed that the experience was one we would never forget.
In 2019, Grand Canyon National Park celebrates 100 years since its designation as a national park. Approximately 6 million people visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site every year, marveling at its incredible beauty while reconnecting with nature. Unfortunately, the large number of visitors to the Grand Canyon puts a lot of wear and tear on the trails, facilities and buildings inside the park.
As part of the centennial celebrations, guests are invited “to be a part of something grand” by making a donation to the Grand Canyon Conservancy’s A Grand Vision Campaign. On the list of priority projects to be funded by donations is trail restoration, dark sky preservation, educational programming and an intertribal site celebrating the tribal heritage of the Grand Canyon. The goal is that improvements made with funds from this fundraising campaign will help prepare the Grand Canyon for the next 100 years and inspire future generations to experience the park and protect its unique resources going forward.
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