The Grand Canyon National Park is in Arizona, with 277 miles of the Colorado River running right through it. The Colorado River runs roughly east to west through the park, from Lake Powell on the Utah/Arizona border, to Lake Mead in Nevada, and passes through the Hoover Dam on it’s way south through Nevada and then California. The west end of the park, and the river, is bordered on the north by the National Park and on the south by the Hualapai Indian Reservation. It is also a short helicopter ride from Las Vegas.
From the Hualapai website:
The Hualapai Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in northwestern Arizona. “Hualapai” (pronounced Wal-lah-pie) means “People of the Tall Pines.” In 1883, an executive order established the Hualapai reservation. The reservation encompasses about one million acres along 108 miles of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River.
My friend Mike and I took Papillon Helicopter’s tour of the Grand Canyon that included a short boat ride on the Colorado and a chance to venture out on the Skywalk.
The tour begins at the Boulder City airport. The approximately thirty minute flight to the west end of the Grand Canyon passes by the Hoover Dam. The landing zone near the river is on the south side, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation land. The short boat ride on the river is operated by the reservation.
The helicopter dropped us near the river, in a pretty desolate looking area.
We had a short ride along the Colorado, with our Hualapai Indian boat operator. The river is muddy, cool and swift.
After the short boat ride, another helicopter touched down just long enough for us to climb aboard and take off for the vertical hop up to the top of the canyon.
At the top of the canyon, many helicopters and buses unload guests for the Skywalk experience. A short van ride from the heliport and we were ushered into the Skywalk.
The Skywalk is owned by the Hualapai. It is very controlled. The one thing that didn’t make me happy was the ban on cameras on the Skywalk. They have photographers there and you can purchase photos, but you can’t take your own.
So we did the walk over the glass panels and it was pretty cool. We found a spot on the outside where you can take your own photos.
The best spot for pictures of the actual Skywalk, is from the restaurant in the building.
The following two photos are professional shots which you can purchase on a thumb drive along with the photos of yourself taken by the Skywalk photographers.
The experience was fast paced and had a bit of a circus feeling to it, due to the amount of people milling around at the heliports. The views were nice and I had really wanted to see the Skywalk since it’s construction ten years ago.
All in all it was a fun way to spend half a day outside of the Las Vegas Strip. Papillon has quite a few tours to choose from. We began our tour at around 10 am and were back by 2:30 or 3:00 with about 1 1/2 hours at the Skywalk.