A highlight of any trip to Las Vegas is a visit to enjoy the heights of the nearby Grand Canyon. There are many different ways to explore the Canyon depending on your available time and budget, including hiring a car, taking a bus, helicopter or airplane.
With limited time available, I opted for a 5 Star Helicopter Tours trip that would fly below the rim and take me to SkyWalk, a horseshoe-shaped, cantilevered platform that hovers over the canyon on the west rim and affords stunning views into the canyon below.
The view from the helicopter was truly wonderful, the anticipation of flying into the canyon surpassed by the reality of towering canyon walls revealing many layers of colorful sediment, formed millions of years ago when under the sea.
You could just make out helicopters at the bottom of the canyon, appearing like tiny bees as they took their passengers for a closer look at the brown and apparently fast-flowing river at the bottom.
My fellow helicopter passengers hadn’t chosen the SkyWalk add-on so spent time at the Hualapai Indian Gift Shop, while I was escorted on a private tour of the SkyWalk and canyon rim. Extending 21 metres (70 feet) from the edge of the Canyon itself, SkyWalk is quite an engineering feat.
My delightful guide, Shirley, shared stories of the local people and SkyWalk’s relatively young history, revealing that the top layer of the clear glass floor has already had to be replaced due to scratching caused by visitors’ shoes and covers designed to protect it. They now require you to wear surgical-like booties over your shoes to minimise the risk of damage and you’re not permitted to take any personal items with you onto SkyWalk, to avoid the risk of damage to the structure or loss of items into the canyon.
Unfortunately this means that you can’t take your camera with you, creating high demand for the official photographers available to take pictures of you as you navigate the platform and enjoy looking straight down to the valley, 1450 metres (4,700 feet) below.
The building behind SkyWalk appears impressive however it isn’t yet fitted out. A restaurant and cafe are apparently planned for the future; for now, the only shop tempts visitors with photos and a large variety of souvenirs.
After visiting SkyWalk it’s worth walking past the visitor centre to the rim of the canyon.
With no fences, it’s important to be very careful where you walk. A lady I spoke to a day after my visit said she’d turned to realise she was within two feet of the edge of the canyon, a heart-stopping scare that had her looking pale as she spoke of her near-miss.
Apparently several tourists do fall into the canyon every year, so beware if you’re tempted to go close to the edge!
And for anyone with a fear of heights, I want to share my tip for how you can carefully get close enough to look over the edge; sit some way back from the edge, then lie down and slowly crawl to the edge so your head’s able to see over but your body’s spread out on the ground. There’s no way you can fall in from this position if you do it carefully and you sure get a great view.