In Las Vegas and looking for big-time thrills? Try this on for size: A 10-minute, 4,000-foot helicopter descent that drops into the Canyon and carves its sheer cliffs before gently landing next to the Colorado River.|
Sound awesome? It is.
Luckily, you'll be in Las Vegas because it's the only place where you can take this miraculous tour. Prices start at $280 and depart daily year-round, including all major holidays. The three major Las Vegas-based helicopter tour operators - Papillon, Maverick, and Sundance - offer it. Check out Papillon's website for the lowest price. I've used it multiple times to book trips and can vouch that it's safe and secure.
It takes a helicopter 45 minutes to fly from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West, which is 120 miles due east. En route, you'll fly over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, the Grand Cliffs Wash, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk before you make the descent.
The Grand Canyon, a World Heritage Site, is 277 miles long, averages 4,000 feet in depth, and comprises 1.2 million acres of land. It's considered by experts to be one of the finest examples of arid-land erosion in the world. It's also famous for its geologic importance: You'll see sections of the Earth's crust that range from 200 million to 2 billion years old.
Be on the lookout for plant and animal life. The Park contains several major ecosystems and is home to five of the seven life zones, a phenomena you'd experience if you were to travel from Mexico to Canada. Inside its protected borders, the Canyon claims more than 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 47 reptile, 8 amphibian, 17 fish, and 1,500 plant species.
Helicopters alight on private dirt helipads on the canyon floor. Once the rotors stop turning, you'll deplane and cheers your adventure with a glass of Champagne. Light snacks are provided. You'll have 30 minutes to explore. I suggest you hunt for fossils (the Canyon was once under a great ancient sea) or hike a stretch to find petroglyphs. You can also upgrade your package to include a pontoon boat ride down the Colorado River.
Flights are done aboard EcoStar 130 helicopters. These "birds" are specifically designed for sightseeing, featuring comfortable stadium-style seating, climate-controlled cabins, and 180-degree wraparound windshields that deliver unobstructed views. The aircraft also feature two-way communication systems that let you talk to your pilot-guide. Pre-recorded taped narrations are available in multiple languages for foreign guests.
The only place in the Grand Canyon where you can fly a helicopter to the bottom is at the West Rim. These chopper tours all originate exclusively out of Vegas. There are no helicopter flights from the West Rim to the South Rim and vice versa. The descent is the main highlight of a trip that includes Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Grand Canyon West. Prices start under $300 per person and include hotel pick up and drop, Champagne, and light snack. This adventure lasts just four hours, making it a great day trip for thrill seeking Las Vegas visitors.
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Article Added on Sunday, April 22, 2012
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