By Jeff Stein / September 23, 2015

The Glam Canyon – Grand Canyon by Helicopter


It is possible to wear high heels as you descend into the Grand Canyon. You should take them off once you get out of the helicopter though.

Three years ago, my friend Sasha invited me along for a trip to Las Vegas. While, she stood inside the tires of Caterpillar earth movers at ConExpo, the world’s largest boondoggle for the construction industry, I got day drunk, played blackjack and napped.

Sasha and Jeff gambled on a helicopter tour of the Canyon.

Sasha and Jeff gambled on a helicopter tour of the Canyon.

As glamorous as that sounds, my trip was about to take an even swankier turn. It happened to be my birthday so Sasha gifted me with a day trip to the Grand Canyon, by helicopter.

Years before, while studying in Arizona (OK, it wasn’t real studying, I went to ASU) I visited the Grand Canyon on several occasions. Always entering from the South Rim and walking in on my own power. I was very real.

This time, a stretch Cadillac (because Las Vegas) arrived for Sasha and myself at the Mandarin Oriental. The drive, which was shorter than the limousine, took us to the heliport just off the strip.

There were eight people and two small helicopters for this tour. After each of us was weighed in, we elegantly fought for the front seats.

Sasha and I shared our ride with two young Irish women. I don’t mean to stereotype but here goes: This was Las Vegas, they were Irish, they were more than hung over. I forget their names so I’ll just call them Fiona and Siobhan.

The chopper ride was pretty damn dramatic. We flew east towards the canyon and passed as closely to the Hoover Dam as Homeland Security would allow. Once we crossed into Arizona, the pilot dropped to a few hundred yards above the Colorado River. We snaked along the canyon, using the water as our guide. After 20 minutes, we touched down on a river bank for a Champagne lunch.

Having never been to the Grand Canyon nor experienced such grandeur, Fiona immediately got out of the helicopter and threw up. If I have one piece of advice for anyone visiting the Grand Canyon by helicopter, do not go on a Jägermeister bender the night prior.

The chopper tour was a surprise but Jeff is always read to ride with his aviators and pilot's mustache.

The chopper tour was a surprise but Jeff is always ready to ride with his aviators and pilot’s mustache.

Once in the canyon, we had 10 minutes to swallow our food, slam the booze and take it all in. Go! Go! Go!

Day trip might be an exaggeration. But it was enough. Most people on the tour had never been to the Grand Canyon and this whetted their appetite. All promised to take a longer, proper visit.

The most amazing part was that less than one hour after my butt was in one of the natural wonders of the world, I was back in the most unnatural wonder known as Caesar’s Palace.


 

The skies are crowded with Grand Canyon helicopter tour operators. Go to Vegas.com to decide which one will get several hundred dollars from you.

About the author

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein writes about travel, cars and life in Queens, New York, with his puggle, Harry. In 2013, he drove through all 48-contiguous United States in a two-seat Nissan 370Z while visiting many of the greatest state and national parks. Jeff can’t wait to do it again but next time he wants a vehicle big enough for fully-reclined sleeping, cooking and a TV.

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