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On the edge of the Grand Canyon

No matter how many pictures you may have seen of the Grand Canyon, nothing compares to the first real glimpse of this natural wonder of the world. The immense depth, the rocks in all different shades of red, and the glistening Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon all make for an unforgettable experience. The vast size of the canyon can only be truly appreciated by standing on the edge. And even then you are only seeing a fraction of this natural phenomenon.

Nobody knows exactly how old the Grand Canyon is, but estimates indicate that the stone at the bottom of the canyon dates back to 1.8 billion years ago. From Las Vegas you can make a day trip by plane or helicopter, but to really experience the Grand Canyon it is best to travel by car and spend the night in one of the many park lodges. A sunset in the Grand Canyon is a truly memorable moment.

Sunrise over the Grand Canyon
Sunrise over the Grand Canyon

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On foot

The many hiking trails in the Grand Canyon offer ideal opportunities to explore this natural wonder on foot. You can also hike all the way down to the Colorado River but this requires a fair amount of preparation. Friendly rangers in the visitor’s centres are on hand to recommend the most appropriate hikes. The easiest route is the Rim Walk: a walk of several kilometres along the edge of the canyon which offers spectacular views. Those who prefer a short descent may opt for the South Kaibab Trail. The first descent along the canyon wall is quite steep, but you will quickly be rewarded by great views into the canyon. The South Kaibab Trail continues all the way to the Colorado River, and you can make the hike as long or as short as you like. Fit hikers can take the trail all the way to the end and spend the night at the Bright Angel Campground.

The view from the helicopter

The view from the air

The only way to get a panoramic view of the canyon is from the air. You can fly over by plane, but a helicopter flight is much more spectacular. Through the large glass windows you will have an amazing view of the dizzying depths of the canyon and the Colorado River. The highlight is the flight through the Dragon Corridor on the South Rim, the widest and deepest part of the canyon.

From the skywalk

For another aerial view without your feet even leaving the ground, take the time to visit the Skywalk. This glass walkway was opened in 2007 in Grand Canyon West. The land belongs to the Hualapai Indians, and you must pay to access the Skywalk and to enter Grand Canyon West itself. The glass floor walkway protrudes approximately 21 meters from the canyon wall, allowing you to stare straight into the very depths of the canyon.

The Skywalk

Photo credits

  • The Skywalk: jabiru, Shutterstock