Monday, 8 August 2016

Grand Canyon | Stop Three | Travel

Road Trip West Coast USA | Stop Three | Grand Canyon
Whilst we were in Las Vegas, we of course, had to spend a day at the Grand Canyon. As one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, you don't need me to tell you just how beautiful it is. I'm sure it is already on your bucket list, or, if you've been as fortunate as me, you've crossed it off your list.
So, a quick little bit of back info for you about the Grand Canyon. Other than knowing that it's pretty damn famous, and some sort of idea of how the canyon came about (thank you A level Geography...) I was pretty clueless when I initially went to see the Grand Canyon I was just expecting lots of steep cliffs and tons and tons of red rocks (fairly accurate, if not a little uneducated).
So, first off. The Canyon is hu-uuuuuuge. At its deepest point the canyon reaches a 6,000 feet drop. Just to put that into perspective, that is four times the height of the empire state building. Yep. Just let that sink in. FOUR TIMES.
Mother Nature whooped our asses there.
Its total area is an astounding 4,926 kilometres squared, London would fit in the canyon three times over, well that would fix our housing shortages... So, I'm sure you get the gist of just how ma-hoosive this corner of the world is.
The Grand Canyon is one of America's national parks, and if you're into big doses of mother nature like me, you will have the vast majority of these national parks on your bucket list. They're mainly on mine because I'm also weirdly interested in Americas national park system (I actually wrote a paper on it in my first year at uni -nerd alert).
So far I'm sure you're all like 'red rocks, pretty huge and national park, right, got it.' but hold your horses, yes that's right, there's more.
The Grand Canyon has an incredibly rich Native American culture, there are several tribes surrounding the Canyon whose presence is strongly felt. Some have been there for centuries, some for millenniums. The impression we were left with after our trip is that the Native tribes seemed to embrace the tourism, how much of that is true we do not know. But, many of the people working the tours were natives and there were beautiful shops around full of lovely artwork, keepsakes and jewellery (I bought a spirit jar that you can see below). We even saw some traditional song & dance and learnt that the Hualapai tribe actually opened up the SkyWalk.
So enough of Amy's little fun fact section. More about how to actually take in such an enormous site in only one day. There are sooooo many different tour options you can go for, from helicopter rides, to hiking trails it is totally a matter of preference. And of course, there's plenty of hotels and lodges around the canyon if you're planning on staying longer.
For our one day trip we decided to opt for a huge mega-package so we would get to see the Grand Canyon at every angle in just the one day. We chose the 'Grand Voyager with Skywalk' package from Papillon which was good but not very personalised and very rushed. Next time I would look away from package deals and more towards something where we get more free time and choice. 
There are three main ways to see the canyon; on foot by the rim, from the air and by boat or walking through the canyon itself. We went for some huge mega-package sort of deal, so that we could cram as many viewing-opportunities as possible into one day.
The day begun being picked up from our hotel in Vegas and taken to an airfield. From here, we boarded what must have been the oldest and most rickety plane in existence and flew over the hoover dam to the north ridge.
From the North rim, we then got a helicopter down into the canyon itself. Personally I was so terrified for this part, I've never been in a helicopter before and planes don't really agree with me, but this was such a great experience and a really smooth journey. It's definitely worth getting a helicopter ride, the view as you come over the rim is completely breath taking.
Once we were down in the Canyon we took a little walk down to the Colorado river to board a small boat and adorn ourselves with some fashionable life jackets. We hopped on and took a ride down the Colorado river for around 20 minutes with a tour guide who kindly answered all of our endless questions.
Once we had got off the boat and strolled back to the heli-pad (in absolute blistering heat) we got back on the helicopter to head back to the North Rim.
Our next leg of the journey was more of an optional choice, we were given our time limit we had left and were told that in this time we could use the bus available to go and visit the south rim, go on the SkyWalk and pick up lunch at Guano Point.
We weren't quite hungry yet and a storm appeared to be brewing, not wanting to miss our chance to check out the SkyWalk we hopped on the bus and headed to the South Rim.
Unfortunately the SkyWalk for us was a massive let down. It was, of course an awesome experience but there were very strict rules with taking anything on the skywalk so you couldn't actually take your own photos. This wouldn't have been a massive problem but the photographer seemed to be ignoring us and with so many groups and so many photos to take we weren't eager on waiting around. Especially as my mum was absolutely freaking out, some people are just not meant for stuff like that and if you have a phobia of heights, I'd steer well clear.
Even if we were keen to wait around for photos, the weather quickly took a turn for the worse and the attraction was closed. So all in all it was probably the most disappointing part of the trip but I am glad we did it, it's definitely an experience.
We then got back on the bus and headed to our lunch stop, at Guano Point, spotting the Eagle Rock on the way. The food system was pretty great, you got a choice of a few hot dishes and it worked a bit like a school canteen. All the food was included in the price we'd paid for the package but if you wanted any extra drinks etc you could purchase them too. The food was so yummy and the views definitely just couldn't be rivalled.
After scoffing our faces, watching a lightening storm and letting the boys go on a mad one climbing some rocks, we got back on the bus back to the original airfield. From here we got the original plane back to where our transfer had dropped us off. Unfortunately the ride back was way more horrendous because a storm had well and truly rolled in and the plane was being thrown about all over the place.
From the initial airfield we got our transfer back to the hotel with plenty of time for quick showers and a nice dinner before catching a Cirque Du Soleil show.

To Catch up on Stop One in San Francisco click here
For Stop Two in Yosemite click here
To see what else we got up to in Vegas check out the post here
For Stop Four, Los Angeles click here!
and
For Stop Five, Disneyland California click here!
and if you also fancy checking out my blog post comparing the Universal Studios VIP experience West coast vs East coast click here!

Toodles.
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