We stepped out of the helicopter at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the blades whirring above our heads, and looked up to witness the awe-inspiring immensity from a perspective that few get to experience.
When we told Ava that for spring break we were going to Phoenix to visit family and then Las Vegas to take her to Meow Wolf, she asked if we could also visit the Grand Canyon.
I went when I was a kid, but despite growing up in Arizona, Sarah had never been. A trip to the Grand Canyon sounded like a great family adventure.
Unique opportunities are possible on any trip, so it’s fun to be on the lookout for a Once-in-a-Lifetime experiences that create a core memory and will be talked about fondly for the rest of our lives.
As I looked through the websites with Grand Canyon experiences, one stood out. I hadn’t crossed helicopter ride off my bucket list yet, and what could be better than flying through the Grand Canyon, landing at the base.
On the drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon, we made an impromptu visit to the Hoover Dam. It added thirty minutes to the trip, but it felt like another unique opportunity. Someday Ava can tell her kids about visiting the dam before Lake Mead dried up.
We brought Sarah’s mom Maria along with us, but we didn’t tell her or Ava about the helicopter experience until we arrived and it was time to check in.
There was some shock and disbelief, but fortunately both were up for the ride.
I’ll never forget the feeling as we were flying over land and suddenly the ground below us fell away as the cliffs dropped down thousands of feet. The helicopter descended and our view in every direction was of the canyon.
It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I looked over at Sarah, thinking “I can’t believe this is real.”
After we landed, the pilot took the previous group back and we had time at the base of the canyon together to take in the view. Maria teared up a little and quietly said, “I never thought I’d see this.”
Six million people visit the Grand Canyon each year, but fewer than 1% make it to the base, usually by hiking for days and camping overnight.
That’s another Once-in-a-Lifetime experience that I’d be up for. Perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to do that someday.
PS. Did you know only 2-3 people fall into the canyon and die each year?
That seems pretty low considering the total visitor count and the number of people we saw getting precipitously close to the edge to capture the perfect selfie.