"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Three Views of the Grand Canyon, Part Two: From the Sky

We've found that seeing a place by getting as low as you can and as high as you can gives you a pretty comprehensive perspective of it.  So here's the second way we saw the Grand Canyon: through the super-sized windows of one of Grand Canyon Airlines' customized de Havilland Twin Otter planes, which they have been flying over the Canyon since 1927.

The approximately 45 minute scenic flight took off from the Grand Canyon Airport, just south of the National Park.  It was a full flight with about 12 passengers, and cost us about $125 each. (Many of our fellow passengers were young people who spent most of the flight taking selfies. While seeing the Grand Canyon? Really.) We all had headphones with a prerecorded narrative telling us what we were seeing down below.

Grand Discovery Tour Map Grand Canyon Airlines

We started heading northeast, crossed over the South Rim and watched the ground fall out from under us. Whoah!!! Just like in the IMAX version!

Soon the Colorado River came into view. (The grey blur in the picture is the ever present propeller.)

We pretty much followed the meandering Colorado west for most of the flight.

At one point we also crossed the Little Colorado

The Grand Canyon is not just one long single canyon like I used to imagine. It is a broad and complex system of canyons formed by the many tributaries that join it from the North and South Rims and beyond.  I have no idea what river this one is, but it made quite a canyon of it's own.

I don't recall any of the rock formations we saw being identified in the narration. But I do know that many of them are named after gods of various religions, like Vishnu, Woton, Buddha, Manu, etc. Some are named for what they look like, such as the Battleship, or were named after early explorers, settlers or founders of the park.

The Grand Canyon is over 6,000 feet deep and 18 miles wide in some places.

We skirted along the North Rim for awhile so the pilot could show us a herd of buffalo that he had spotted earlier that day. No pictures of those guys, who were on the other side of the plane.  You can see in the picture below how complex the canyon is.

The deep green areas are part of the Kaibab Plateau beyond the North Rim.

After traveling quite a ways west we turned south, across the South Rim again, and headed back to the airport. 

So, what to say in conclusion? Wowie zowie? I looked for some profound quote to help me express the impact of the experience, but was surprised to find very few.  I think the Canyon does leave one speechless. The flight helped us grasp the enormity, complexity and beauty of the Canyon. It was definitely one of those opportunities a lifetime that I'm so grateful we embraced.  

But now, what will be the third view????


  1. Wow! That looks amazing! I've seen it from the edge and from the bottom, but this way is spectacular! Thanks for taking me up in that plane!

  2. Somehow I'm not surprised that you've seen it from the bottom. And you're very welcome. It's the least I can do in exchange for all the hikes you've taken me on!


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