After all, I had seen it in so many movies and documentaries, it just had to be another highlight on our trip.
Those movies and documentaries? They don’t do it justice… at all.
We started the day with a helicopter tour. Browsing the internet learned that the best time of day was around 9-10am, because of the morning light and the wind.
It was a rather bumpy ride (first helicopter ride ever, you know), but you forget about that as soon as you cross the canyon. The view is absolutely breathtaking.
I have no words for it. I think I even got teary-eyed at some point (and I still do when watching the footage of our ride).
The helicopter ride lasted just close to an hour which was, in my opinion, good value for money. I found out about Maverick helicopter tours while doing research for our trip in The New York Times’ 36 Hours, USA and Canada edition. They have a fleet of large, recent helicopters at their disposal and as a bonus the whole tour is filmed. I’ve long gone off the tourist road, but hopped right back on when purchasing said DVD. It brings back so many memories, especially because you hear my husband talk at some point.
After what will go into history as one of the most fun rides ever, we hopped into our car and headed for the national park itself. Since we had our own car, we decided to take the Desert View Drive, a scenic route to the east of the Grand Canyon Village (the main area where you enter the park). The route offers the most spectacular viewpoints and covers about 40 kilometers. Since we spent all day there it was quite interesting to see the changing light on the canyon.
Since we had dinner reservations at El Tovar, we decided to watch the sunset from the Grand Canyon Village. I’m not sure which sunset I liked best, the one at McWay Creek (Big Sur) or the one here, but these two are definitely marked as the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. Dinner at El Tovar did not disappoint either: an amazing setting and delicious food.
We did not stay in the Grand Canyon Village, though. All lodging was already fully booked when I was preparing our trip so we ended up staying in Flagstaff, which was about a one and a half hour drive from the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. On our way back to Flagstaff (a long, dark and very quiet road) we met an elk. Our hostess at the b&b we were staying at warned us that we had to be very careful during the drive, because they came out at night. My husband drove very carefully and spotted the elk in time and then we had to wait this thing out: the elk decided to cross the road, take a good look at those two human beings in that fancy convertible and then decided to cross the road again. Call me crazy, but I was so happy we came across one of these, it was utterly special.