So, just recently I have been on a unforgettable trip to Las Vegas with my girlfriends. It seemed to be a very impulsive trip from the start – so a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon HAD to be booked.
I thought I would write my account of the best day of the holiday for me.
I had high expectation for this, studying geography at university meant I was lucky enough to go on some exceptional field trips to see some naturally outstanding places.
(I also must warn you before you go on – I love a good geography fact!)
Limo pick up
We used a company called Sundance; who I highly recommend. They picked us up from our hotel in a limo and drove us to the airport. This was Sundance’s office where we met the pilot and had a safety briefing.
We lifted of the ground without even really knowing it and drifted away from the strip towards the desert. The pilot was fantastic (Jeff) and narrated the flight, answering any questions we all fired at him. We flew towards hoover dam and from the sky it really shows off its enormous engineering scale. Standing 726 ft tall and 1244 ft long built to tame the Colorado river and provide hydroelectric power for the southwest. This holds back enough water in Lake Mead to irrigate 2 million acres of land and not to mention its 17 turbines that generate enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes.
Up in the helicopter we flew over vast amount of desert – The Mojave Desert. This occupies a significant portion of Southern California and parts of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. It has typical basin and mountainous topography. This desert looks like a distinctive sandscape however it is home to many habitats, springs, animals and plants. Flying over the desert was beautiful, the vast open space was hard to take in.
Flying over the desert Lake Mead appeared. Refreshing blue colours breaking up the landscape. Formed by the hoover dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir (in terms of capacity) in the USA. The pilot informed us it wasn’t even at 40% capacity, which overwhelmed me – there was so much water! When full, Lake Mead reaches and astonishing 112 miles in length.
Looking down and watching the colorado river meander its way through the desert was humbling. The river is 1450 miles long and has a flow of 800 million gallons per hour! it flows through 7 US states and 2 Mexican states. The river and its tributaries are a vital source of water for 40 million people in southwestern North America. The river and its tributaries are also controlled by an extensive system of dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts, which in most years divert its entire flow for agricultural and domestic use. However due to its large flow and steep gradient it is sed for hydroelectric power.
What I find incredible, and I guess incredibly sad is that the Colorado river has rarely reached the sea since 1960. 100 miles of the river has dried up due to over water consumption.
Whilst in Vegas I read a billboard; ‘What does water bring to the desert? Future.’ however at the rate of its water consumption – I highly doubt it!
The main attraction – Grand Canyon
One of the seven natural wonders of the world. The canyon seemed to creep up on us. With the flat desert going on and on, the ridge suddenly fell away and we could witness the unique geological colours and erosion for the first time. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep.
The helicopter then landed in the bottom of the canyon, it felt more open than I thought but nonetheless the canyon walls were steep showing off its rock layers. Trying to grasp the scale was hard – I tried to find things to compare it to or smaller objects to scale it up from. However it was just too much to take in. We were allowed to explore, so we inevitably went for a stroll and a mini photo shoot.
As the sun set the light was perfect, just hitting the top of the canyon and great for taking photographs.
Las Vegas strip
As the sun started to set we headed back to Las Vegas. It turned to dusk and we could see the bright lights ahead. We headed down the strip and had the delight of seeing the Bellagio fountains going off as we flew over.
I must say, this has to be in my top 5 most memorable/amazing days of my life so far. Just an incredible experience. If you are taking a trip to Vegas this is a strongly recommended MUST DO!