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9 September 2018 / leggypeggy

Our bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air

Helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon aren’t cheap, but Poor John and I decided it was something we should splash out on. Heck, we were camping instead of staying in hotels, and cooking most of our meals instead of eating in restaurants. We decided the flights could be our birthday presents to one another.

In case you’re wondering about the price, it was just under US$300 (or almost A$400) per person for a 45-minute flight. We travelled with a company called Maverick, but I can say the pilot was no cowboy.

All five passengers (and their cameras) were weighed before boarding and seating was assigned so as to distribute weight evenly across the helicopter. I was thrilled to be seated in the centre of the front row. Best seat in the ‘house’.

The airport is several miles from the south rim of the canyon so we got views of the countryside (not impressive enough to share pics) and then we were over the canyon.

We all wore headphones/earmuffs and, when possible, the pilot gave a running commentary on what we were seeing. Can I remember any of his spiel? Of course not. Oh wait, I think one rock formation is called The Castle because that’s what it looks like.

Castle-like formation at Grand Canyon

I think this is called The Castle. Can anyone confirm?

Some of the canyon’s vital statistics
Geologically, the Grand Canyon is significant because of the ancient rocks that are well preserved and exposed in its walls. These rock layers expose nearly two billion years of Earth’s geological history.

While geologists disagree on some aspects about how the canyon was created, several recent studies support a theory that the Colorado River established its course through the area about 5 to 6 million years ago.

Today the canyon measures 277 miles (446 kilometres) from Lees Ferry in the east to Grand Wash Cliffs in the west. The Colorado River, which carved out the canyon, lies, on average, 5000 feet (1525 metres) below the rims.

Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air

Speaking of the rims, they are about 10 miles (16 kilometres) apart with the southern one being most popular with tourists. That rim has an elevation of 7129 feet, which is about 1000 feet lower than the northern rim.

Climate varies considerably according to elevation—the higher north rim is cooler and wetter than the south rim, and gets much more snow. Weather conditions can change rapidly on both sides, although we had excellent weather when we were there.

Lake Powell

A glimpse of Lake Powell

The canyon is bounded by two dams that hold back two large lakes. The Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell are upriver, while the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are at the other end. On the way to the canyon, we had a quick stop at Lake Powell and its visitor centre.

Plants and animals abound in the park, even though we didn’t see many. We had a few glimpses of bison on the north rim. Overall, the canyon area has more than 2100 species of plants and 90 species of mammals.

Bison on the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Bison graze on the north rim.

A little history
For thousands of years, the area has been continuously inhabited by Native Americans, who built settlements within the canyon and its many caves. The Pueblo people considered the canyon a holy site, and made pilgrimages to it.

Spaniard García López de Cárdenas was the first European known to have viewed the canyon in 1540. He, along with Hopi guides and a small group of Spanish soldiers, travelled to the south rim. It is thought that their Hopi guides knew routes to the canyon floor, but were reluctant to lead the Spanish to the river. No Europeans visited the canyon again for more than 200 years. James Ohio Pattie, along with a group of American trappers and mountain men, may have been the next Europeans to reach the canyon, in 1826.

Near the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Near the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Near the north rim of the Grand Canyon

Near the north rim of the Grand Canyon

US President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, Roosevelt established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve that year. The Antiquities Act of 1906 followed and gave Roosevelt the power to create national monuments.  He declared the Grand Canyon an official national monument in 1908. It became a national park in 1919.

And for those of you who want to know the gory bits—almost 800 people have died in the canyon since the mid-1800s. Causes have included falls, dehydration, drownings, lightning strikes, heart attacks, suicide and murder. The worst casualties were in 1956 when two commercial airplanes collided and 128 people were killed.

Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air

And finally a rant
The visitor centre wasn’t open when we first arrived at the canyon, so we stopped at the coffee shop. The fellow at the counter simply filled two paper cups with black coffee from a machine.

Imagine my surprise and rather enormous irritation when Poor John tapped his credit card to pay, a $1 tip was automatically added to the US$4.70 for the two coffees. A more than 20 per cent tip for virtually no effort or genuine service!

Maybe someday I’ll do a post on my attitudes about tipping in general.

P.S. Enjoy the pics and don’t worry about the absence of captions. Seriously, what is there to say?

Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air Grand Canyon from the air


Leave a Comment
  1. paolsoren / Sep 9 2018 9:21 pm

    Dear Peggy,
    Your post has arrived on my blog as a comment, Has something gone wrong?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 9 2018 9:46 pm

      How weird. I can’t explain.

      Liked by 1 person

      • paolsoren / Sep 9 2018 9:57 pm

        No and I can’t. Let me explain a bit. When you make a comment there is a little square ‘talking’ balloon in grey circle. When you hit like there is a star in a circle but now there is a ! in the circle. And I can’t highlight and delete nor does it appear in the comments page. But I will just ignore it.
        So don’t you worry.


      • leggypeggy / Sep 9 2018 10:02 pm

        Thanks, I try to worry as little as possible. But let me know if it happens again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Prem / Sep 9 2018 9:33 pm

    Just fantastic, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ksbeth / Sep 9 2018 9:37 pm

    what a beautiful view and well worth it –

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Andrew Petcher / Sep 9 2018 9:59 pm

    Great pictures. In 1996 I took a light plane ride from Monument Valley to Grand Canyon. It was a great thrill but I did get a little air-sick. Thanks for the memory nudge!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 9 2018 10:01 pm

      You are most welcome. That would have been an amazing flight, even if you got a little air-sick.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Eliza Ayres / Sep 9 2018 10:26 pm

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal and commented:
    I love the little bit of history in this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. beetleypete / Sep 9 2018 10:30 pm

    After going all that way, it just had to be worth the helicopter ride, and it was. Better value than the coffee, for sure! Thanks for all the views, and for adding the informative history too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pvcann / Sep 9 2018 11:13 pm

    what a wonderful read, love the photos too, but I learned a few things – thanks Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 8:25 am

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

      • pvcann / Sep 10 2018 9:26 am

        You’re most welcome, very worth the stopping by, I always enjoy learning.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Sy S. / Sep 9 2018 11:38 pm

    Hello LeggyP.,

    These helicopter images on balance are better then the first blog photos of the Grand Canyon…for the most part. What time of day did you take theses shots? They are sharp and with very little haze…. beautiful. How much did it cost and for how long was the flight? Did you have to pay an extra $1 as a tip?

    To bad you got ripped off on two cups of coffee and a $1 tip added! Bad, very bad.. this got to be one of the ugly sides of the Grand Canyon (and people hanging off the sides of the rims). I hate automatic gratuities, which are added on disregarding any especially good or TERRIBLE services. I hate it…!

    Sighing Sy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 8:28 am

      Hi Sy. I agree that these pics are much clearer and brighter than the ones I took the previous day from the south rim. The flight lasted 45–50 minutes and cost US$284. And I’m still irked about that automatic $1 tip. Sighing with you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sy S. / Sep 11 2018 12:34 am

        What time of day, please? The lighting in the early morning or late afternoon generally produce softer better photos.. compared to the harsh light in the mid-day sun.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2018 7:42 am

        You’re right Sy. It was later in the afternoon—maybe 4pm?

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Sep 10 2018 12:39 am

    What a spectacular experience you and Poor John had, seeing the Grand Canyon from a helicopter. I’ve long wanted to take the trek to Phantom Ranch but that’s a daydream. It’s such a gorgeous place and you gave a great tour.

    As for the outrageous price of cheap coffee – yeah, bah! Now I know why John is Poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 8:32 am

      Oh Sharon, I just looked up Phantom Ranch. Staying there would be an amazing experience, but a daydream for us too. Still annoyed about the coffee.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. V.J. Knutson / Sep 10 2018 1:29 am

    We did this tour! My husband surprised me knowing I’m afraid of heights. So glad he did – it was fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary Halpenny-Killip / Sep 10 2018 1:51 am

    Thanks for the tour…BEAUTEOUS!! A national treasure to be sure. I hope you don’t mind. I’d like to *highly* recommend the book, ‘The Hour of Land: A Personal Typography of America’s National Parks’, by Terry Tempest Williams! Each chapter is on one of 13 different U.S. national parks. It is narrated by the author, who along with her father and family, spent a lifetime simply being and working in the great outdoors. It is historical, contemporary, full of stories told passionately, and in a way that distinguishes one park from the next. I don’t know much about any of these places, their uniqueness, and how they came about, but I am now fascinated to visit them. (She also talks in real time about the forces encroaching upon these national sites and monuments, and what is threatening their very existence.) It is s special book! Happy trails.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 11:03 am

      Oh Mary, thanks so much for recommending this book. Happy trails to you too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Gary Walker / Sep 10 2018 1:53 am

    I took a helicopter tour and a donkey trail ride to the bottom in the mid-90s. Isn’t it magnificent?
    Surprisingly, the donkey ride was a lot of fun but save that for your last day because you will be saddle sore and limping for days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 8:35 am

      Oh Potsie, I wish I’d known about donkey rides when we were there. Maybe someday.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lynette d'Arty-Cross / Sep 10 2018 1:57 am

    I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon in many years now – beautiful photos. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. frejatravels / Sep 10 2018 2:11 am

    stunning photos

    Liked by 2 people

  15. CarolCooks2 / Sep 10 2018 3:04 am

    Wow what an awesome experience and nice write up, Peggy I would have been irked by the automatic tip…Maybe a trip Adviser comment?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Norbert Haupt / Sep 10 2018 3:40 am

    Ah, Peggy, an article on tipping! I have been wanting do write one of those forever. You just incentivized me again!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yeah, Another Blogger / Sep 10 2018 3:50 am

    The Grand Canyon is unreal.
    The coffee shop stinks.

    See ya–

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. lexklein / Sep 10 2018 4:25 am

    Money well spent, I would say! Wish we had done it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. thewonderer86 / Sep 10 2018 5:05 am

    What a terrific birthday present!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. MeRaw / Sep 10 2018 5:20 am

    Fabulous photos and great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. PantryPortfolio / Sep 10 2018 7:04 am

    This is one of my favorite places but I’ve never traveled via helicopter. Beautiful. Also, you should definitely write a post about tipping. I’d love to read your perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 9:03 am

      Do the helicopter flight if you ever have the chance. And tipping, ugh! That post will take me a long time to write. Better get started.


  22. dinosaursdonkeysandms / Sep 10 2018 7:04 am

    Absolutely stunning photos. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  23. BoomingOn / Sep 10 2018 8:10 am

    It’s certainly spectacular – thanks for the photos. We did the same helicopter ride about 10 years ago. And I hear you about the tipping. The whole concept of compulsory gratuities, even when the service is crap, drives me mad. Just pay people a decent basic wage to start with.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. janesmudgeegarden / Sep 10 2018 8:43 am

    It certainly was a breathtaking view and thanks for sharing with those not likely to make the trip. A wonderful birthday present for each other and something to always remeber. About the tip: I agree, it’s more than irksome for that to happen and that you have no control over how much or even whether you leave a tip, but being the US, that guy could well be earning about $7 an hour, which means he needs the extra money from tips. It could also account for his attitude.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 9:10 am

      I know that staff in service industries are poorly paid in the US. That’s where the problem starts. The tip makes up part of their wage. But I think it’s a cop-out for the employer to pay low wages. As for the coffee shop, the young man didn’t show any attitude, but he also said nothing about the tip being compulsory.


  25. Vicki / Sep 10 2018 9:17 am

    The aerial images are spectacular and the cost of the helicopter rides were worth every cent. There’s no way you could have captured as much of the coloured layers in the rock from ground level, although I imagine those images would have been good anyway.

    Having worked in Waitressing etc back in my youth (3 jobs to save for overseas travel in th 1970s), I can well appreciate how some wages might be horrifyingly low and trying to nab a tip would be mandatory, but as BoomingOn says… them a decent wage in the first place.

    Best tip I seem to remember getting was for a wedding I served on and my tray of 3 full beer bottles overbalanced on to the bride’s elderly grandmother. I was horrified and spent ages trying to mop up then dry her dress. I was surprised to get a very generous tip at the end of the evening. Must have been my apologies and attitude to my misdemeanour.

    I think tips should be voluntary, but do appreciate that some wages in the services industry leave a lot to be desired. I remember ‘tipping’ the young waitress who’d waited on me in the hotel in Manilla for the whole 3 days I was there, with all my ‘useless’ local coinage, and I thought she was going to kiss my feet. Apparently I had give her many months wages in that pile of coins. It certainly wasn’t like the notes which I could have changed to A$ at the airport. Besides, she had done a very courteous and prompt serving and done her best to make me welcome in her country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 11:05 am

      Sometimes I take great joy in tipping and other times it just makes me cross. If a decent wage is paid to begin with, then a tip is a reward and a genuine thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Kristine Howard / Sep 10 2018 12:17 pm

    Fantastic Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Steve Favinger / Sep 10 2018 12:48 pm

    Been to the Grand Canyon several times (north and south rims) but have never seen it as beatiful as your pictures show. Chopper ride was worth every penny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 12:51 pm

      Thanks Steve. I’m so glad we did the chopper ride.


  28. Alison and Don / Sep 10 2018 1:21 pm

    The flight sounds fabulous Peggy. Wish I’d done that but I was a poor twenty-something when I went there. Even now I’d think twice about it, but I do get why you splurged. It’s such an amazing sight!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Emma Cownie / Sep 10 2018 5:38 pm

    Stupendous! Well done Roosevelt for making it a national park. I was excited to see the Bison from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 10 2018 8:16 pm

      Yes, Roosevelt did a lot to get national parks going.


  30. derrickjknight / Sep 10 2018 7:13 pm

    Some great shots here. Our local pub is part of a small chain where you are always told that you don’t have to pay the 10% which is added to your bill. I usually tip in cash if I pay by card because I need to be sure the gratuity will go to the staff. In this case we know it does go to the staff.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. a mindful traveler / Sep 10 2018 10:46 pm

    It’s a whole different encounter seeing it from a bird’s eye view. Fabulous Peggy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  32. indianeskitchen / Sep 11 2018 12:26 pm

    I have got to see this some day! Your pictures are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. shawnthompsonart / Sep 11 2018 12:33 pm

    Interesting views of the Grand Canyon. Whenever I see the grand Canyon, I am always amazed by the erosion patterns on such an enormous scale.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 11 2018 3:13 pm

      The patterns and colours are fascinating and breathtaking.


  34. J.D. Riso / Sep 12 2018 5:56 am

    I’d say that was definitely worth the money. Those views are amazing. I totally get your irritation with the tipping here. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been back is that it’s really gotten out of hand. A tip for pushing a button and filling a cup? Ridiculous.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2018 7:34 am

      I love the way you put it—A tip for pushing a button and filling a cup? Ridiculous.


  35. Phil Huston / Sep 12 2018 6:15 am

    Whew, you guys have some cajones. The Canyon has a 60 year history of air disasters. Now, for that Ute thing. The Utes have a history of warfare by theft. People, horses, anything of value. And even to the Navajos, who should have known better, the Utes used their secret trails up and down the mesas and canyons so well that they sold their ability to be at the bottom, and then the top without a known route as magic. Even the frontier military couldn’t figure it out. Their ways up and down those canyons were the secret to their success and the stuff of legend around the four corners.
    Hey, I got tipped for being in the elevator that ran up the side of the Sheraton Waikiki and pointing out landmarks. The other passengers who got on after me thought i was some sort of guide. In a self serve elevator. I picked up some decent change until the manager rode with a car full or tourists and told em to stop or I’d get to meet 5-O in person. I was going to tell you about the grand canyon when I was six, but you’ve seen it! By helicopter! Good show!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2018 7:40 am

      Your opening line gave me a good laugh. Great way to start the day. I’m still laughing too about you getting tipped in a self-serve elevator. Aren’t they all self-serve now?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Phil Huston / Sep 12 2018 8:02 am

        I think. I saw an old Perry Mason where the elevator operator was a critical witness because he looked at shoes all day and remembered them! Third floor. Ladies foundations, little girls dresses, stripes and plaids, Boy Scout uniforms, watch your step.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2018 8:08 am

        I can hardly type, I’m laughing so hard. I do believe the last time I heard ‘ladies foundations’ was in an elevator in a department store in Omaha Nebraska. Not sure whether it was third floor?


  36. Gilda Baxter / Sep 12 2018 6:41 am

    Beautiful photos and enjoyed your descriptions with some history thrown in. I did this trip few years ago and loved seeing the Canyon from above. It is priceless 😄

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Lynz Real Cooking / Sep 12 2018 9:43 am

    Wow stunning Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. jeanleesworld / Sep 12 2018 12:50 pm

    They did WHAT?! Lousy American tourist nonsense. I’m surprised yet I’m not surprised.

    But as for the helicopter, I’m glad you two gave that ride to each other! Those photographs wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and your light was perfect. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2018 5:05 pm

      I was shocked at the coffee shop. But that helicopter ride was an amazing bonus. And you’re right—the light was perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Sep 12 2018 8:41 pm

        There is definitely something to this “American Entitlement” nonsense. I see the same thing in my students–“You didn’t give me an A.” You didn’t do the work. “But I showed up to class!” That’s one hour a week. There’s still projects to do. “BUT I SHOWED UP.”


      • leggypeggy / Sep 12 2018 8:54 pm

        I’m hearing more and more about the non-sense of entitlement. Not only in the USA, but here too. Must be so disheartening to encounter it.


  39. Mackenzie / Sep 12 2018 4:14 pm

    stunning views!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  40. America On Coffee / Sep 13 2018 1:04 am

    Really enjoyed the historical overview. I love the helicopter innovation … It added more to the tour.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2018 7:59 am

      The helicopter ride was a wonderful experience.


      • America On Coffee / Sep 13 2018 8:04 am

        You both have suggest energy for travel. I can only marvel at the adventure!❤❤❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2018 8:09 am

        We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to travel widely.


  41. jHulsey / Sep 14 2018 2:05 am

    What an experience to fly over the Grand Canyon!

    Liked by 2 people

  42. sushilove51 / Sep 14 2018 11:26 pm

    how did you get birds eye view. looks like you flew over it. perfect pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Miriam / Sep 17 2018 11:07 pm

    Gobsmackingly gorgeous. Seriously, your pics don’t need captions. They speak for themselves. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 17 2018 11:08 pm

      Thanks Miriam, I simply couldn’t think of anything to say.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Miriam / Sep 17 2018 11:10 pm

        Your pics say it all, better than any words could.

        Liked by 1 person

  44. adventuredawgs / Sep 20 2018 8:22 am

    You are absolutely correct: no captions needed. That tip on lousy service and no-effort coffee would send me round the bend!

    Liked by 1 person

  45. etravelersclub / May 17 2020 10:34 pm

    Nice to come across your blog. Infotaining tales with inspiring photos. Also welcome to visit my blog 🙂
    Be well.


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