A Larger-Than-Life Experience
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, which is located a mere 300 miles from the Grand Canyon. That’s a four-hour drive by car, and less than an hour flight by helicopter. Since the Grand Canyon was right here in my backyard, I never felt a pressing urge to visit—even though it’s one of the most written about and most photographed places on Earth. I just assumed I’d get around to it some day.
Well, some day finally came. I won’t tell you my age—but suffice to say, my Grand Canyon visit was at least 30 years overdue. Just a few years ago, I went on a bus tour to the canyon’s popular South Rim. I don’t really know how to describe the experience, as nothing prepared me for the feeling of awe I had upon walking up to the first of several different viewpoints that day. Basically, I just gazed out at the grand expanse. I think the sheer enormity of it is what took my breath away. In fact, its size actually makes visiting seem daunting. Did you know the Grand Canyon National Park covers more than a million acres of gorgeous geography? You’d need two weeks to properly take all that in. My day trip soon began to feel terribly inadequate.
Thus, two years ago, my boyfriend and I booked a late-afternoon helicopter tour to Grand Canyon West, which is even closer to Las Vegas, situated only 140 miles away. I’d never been on a helicopter, so it was quite a rush when it lifted up and looped above the Strip. I saw some amazing views of the Las Vegas valley, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Eventually, the helicopter came over some jagged cliffs and there the Grand Canyon laid—a spectacular vision with the fading sun reflecting in the clouds. Seeing the terrain and the more-than-a-mile drops below me was mind-blowing…and, then we descended into the canyon, some 1,500 feet beneath the rim! The whole experience was surreal.
The thing is I’m not finished with the Grand Canyon. I still want to see more of it. I’ve got a longing to hike to the canyon floor, and perhaps to raft down the Colorado River. I’d also like to set foot on the North Rim.
All I can say is no matter how you do it, you should definitely visit the Grand Canyon—at least once. Everything is dramatic around the plateaus and beneath the river-carved rim. And everything is big, including the experience you’ll have in this vast, legendary expanse. If you’re anything like me, you’ll surely get addicted!
Written by Travel Gal, Renee Libutti