Grand Canyon by helicopter
Truly one of the most spectacular ways to experience the Grand Canyon is via helicopter. This bird’s eye view will give you the opportunity to take some first class photos. It also offers a unique perspective of just how large the Grand Canyon is.
Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters pioneered the “flightseeing” industry more than 30 years ago. Their state-of-the-art equipment carries more than 120,000 visitors over the Grand Canyon each year. The majestic vistas viewed from the seat of a helicopter are enough to put one into sensory overload. I can’t recommend this experience highly enough.
For information or reservation on Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours, visit their web site at papillon.com. Papillion has several tour options to choose from:
- The North Canyon Tour: This 25 to 30 minute tour gives you a front seat view of the canyon. You could spend an entire day on foot and not see a fraction of the sights you’ll enjoy on this excursion.
- The Imperial Tour: This 40 to 45 minute tour combines the renowned beauty of the North Canyon tour with spectacular views of the Painted Desert, the Colorado River and the eastern canyon.
- Havasupai Daytime/Overnight Excursions: These unique tours allow you to enter into the unique world of the Havasupai Indians. Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, this village boast spectacular waterfalls and legendary views that are only found here. An optional Indian guided tour on horseback will take you to the foot of the waterfalls.
Grand Canyon mule trips
Mule trips are the first thing many people think of when talking about the Grand Canyon and as such, they are a VERY popular attraction. If you are interested in this activity, make reservations as soon as possible (trips in peak season are sold out as much as a year in advance!). If you don’t have reservations, you can get on a cancellation waiting list. In winter, your chances are of getting a mule are good, but the lists in summer can be long. For reservations or more information call (520) 303-29- PARKS.
A crossbreed between a female horse and a male donkey, mules are characterized by endurance, gentleness and good temperament. For safety reasons riders must weigh less than 200 pounds (91K) dressed, including equipment, be at least 4-feet-7-inches tall (1.38 meters) in height, fluent in English and you cannot be pregnant.
There are two mule trip options:
- Day Trip to Plateau Point: Riders will spend about six hours in the saddle. Brief stops will be made every 30 to 35 minutes to rest the mules (although riders are not allowed to dismount). About two and a half hours down the trail is Indian Gardens, a water and rest room stop. The trip then proceeds across the Tonto Plateau to Plateau Point, which offers a panoramic view of the Canyon and the Colorado River 1,300 feet below. Lunch is provided on the return trip at Indian Gardens and the entire excursion takes about seven hours.
- Overnight Trip to Phantom Ranch: (Three-day, two-night trips are available in winter only) From the head of Bright Angel Trail, riders descend to Indian Gardens where they are served a box lunch, the go on to the Colorado Rivers and along the cliffs of the inner gorge. After crossing the suspension bridge, the ride proceeds up Bright Angel Canyon to Phantom Ranch. There the weary riders will find cabins furnished with bunk beds, sink, toilet, bedding, soap and towels. Showers are available. After a hearty breakfast the next morning, the return trip follows the south Kaibab Trail, which provides spectacular panoramic views. Riders will be returned by bus to Bright Angel Lodge early enough for lunch. The ride down takes about five and a half hours and the ride back about four and a half hours.
Free rangers programs
The National Park Services offers a wide variety of free ranger programs to enhance your stay at the Grand Canyon. Some of these programs include guided hikes into the canyon and rim walks, a fossil walk, geology talks and daily special lectures and evening programs about the canyon’s culture and natural history. Check in at the Visitors Center to see what’s available during your stay.
Children aged four to 14 can also become “junior rangers” by completing activities outlined in the Junior Rangers tabloid (available at the visitors center or the Tusayan Museum). Kids will receive a special certificate with their name on it.