A Glorious Helicopter Ride through the Grand Canyon

Awhile back I wrote about the big surprise Las Vegas trip for my Dad’s 50th Birthday. I thought listening to his excited chuckle during the big reveal made all the planning and near spoiled surprises worth it, but the trip itself was even more than my sister and I could have hoped for. Although I had never been to Vegas, I thought I had a good idea of what to expect. However, when anything involves my dad you’ve got to expect the unexpected.

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My sister Mandy and I had planned out our Thursday, Friday and Sunday events, but left Saturday up to Dad. He wanted to go to see the Hoover Dam, so we reserved the day for that activity. Dad had a trick up his sleeve.

In what can only be explained as an adventure straight out of The Bachelor, we started our day with a limo ride from our hotel to the airport. When we arrived at Sundance Helicopters we weighed in and watched a quick safety talk. Mandy was a little bit nervous as we watched our helicopter return from its last trip. We were introduced to our fantastic pilot, Kyle M. After a few corny jokes, we were buckled up and headed up, up and away for an unforgettable trip across the Hoover Dam, over Lake Mead, and through the Grand Canyon. These pictures are worth more than a thousand words, so I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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The Hoover Dam is about a 45 minute drive from Las Vegas by car, but by helicopter you’ll get there in about 3 minutes. As we came over the top of the dam, Pilot Kyle shared facts about its construction. You may notice the calcium deposits making the white border on both sides of the Colorado River, that is a result of the extreme drought that has been impacting the Western U.S. for the last 14 years. Water levels have now dropped more than 130 feet.

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Dad insisted that Mandy and I take the seats up front. What a guy! He hung out in the back with our new British friends who took the helicopter trip with us.

Riding in the helicopter was fun on its own. It gets shifted by the wind quite often, so you’ll feel the occasional drop or drift. The feeling isn’t incredibly alarming as it would happen fairly quickly. It does take some getting used to. What you could not possibly get used to was the awe of the views. The helicopter that we went out in had windows along the top, front, sides and even low below our feet.

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My second trip into the Grand Canyon was a little bit more leisurely than the first. As we floated through the canyon, I was again mesmerized by it’s beauty. On a trip earlier this year, I hiked the South Kaibab Trail on the canyon’s South Rim near Sedona, Arizona. It was an unusually rainy and cloudy day. Because of the cloud coverage, we didn’t get a clear view of the canyon until we were about 1.5 miles down our climb. This day was a completely different experience.

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On our return trip, Mandy and I gave up our front seats. While the views were still outstanding from the back, there was nothing like that front seat view. Pro tip: if you go on this helicopter tour, don’t be nice. Put up your dukes and fight for the front seat.

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The last leg of the flight brought us by the downtown Las Vegas strip. You’ll notice my dad’s selfie stick. Dad’s selfie game was strong on this trip. I give 10 stars to this entire day, it’s one I’ll remember forever. A huge thank you to my Dad for making this all happen for us – you’re the best. Next time you’re in Las Vegas, don’t pass up this experience and while you’re at it, ask for Kyle M.

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