Experience The Canyonlands

4 June 2016
Read Time: 2.1 mins

A one-in-a-million moment is a hard act to follow but several of them, well that’s definitely something worth writing home about.  I’m on an nine-day Cosmos tour of the canyons of Arizona, Utah and the Wild West in the United States. With no early starts we depart Las Vegas, have a coffee kick on Route 66, and in five hours we’re walking the rim of the Grand Canyon and tentatively peering over the edge into a massive, two-billion-year-old chasm.

Two men look out from one of the scenic lookouts at Grand Canyon National Park Looking over the edge of the world.

It’s breathtaking and one of the seven great natural wonders of the world. Four hours later, as sunset signals, three endangered, magnificent Californian condors appear to waltz on the wings of thermal energy. Wow! But little do I know that some of the best is yet to come.

I decide to take an optional tour and the following dawn, our red, six-seater helicopter is skimming towards the Grand Canyon.

A man stands outside a helicopter that has landed on the floor of the Grand Canyon The scale of the Grand Canyon is simply breathtaking.

There’s a huge thrill and many shiver moments in our low-level approach. There’s the scariness of the impending situation and our vulnerability, especially when the chopper tips over the rim and seems to drop like a pebble. But a split second later the chopper rises up. One passenger grabs a paper bag but I’m ecstatic and feeling brave, look down between my toes and there, one mile below, like the tail of a dragon, is the mighty awe-inspiring Colorado River.

It’s a one-in-a-million moment that I shall remember all my life.


More Grand Canyon experiences:

Whitewater thrills. America's All-Action Grand Canyon

Instagram-worthy vistas. Sean & Craig's USA Road Trip Part 5: Las Vegas & Grand Canyon


Magnificent Monument Valley on the Navaho Indian Reserve in Utah, just 13 miles from Arizona, resembles a scene out of a John Wayne movie because it is. In this vivid, red raw desert, with its colossal sandstone monuments called Mittens, Cosmos has booked us into Goulding’s Lodge. MGM made Goulding’s Lodge their home while shooting many movies including She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Stage Coach and The Searchers.

The Colorado River runs through the steep landscape of the Grand Canyon The mighty Colorado River snakes through the Grand Canyon, stretching from Colorado to Mexico.

Following our day of Wild West adventures, I pull up a chair on our private balcony to watch the sun set behind the massive Mittens and I can’t help thinking these are hard acts to follow. But they do, the following morning, on our 4WD tour. Then when Cosmos Tour Director Dan informs us, “I’m not going to tell you too much about our next stop. I think seeing is believing and I shall just walk you up to the point of the lookout”, we do as he suggests and stand there, with jaw-dropping amazement. It’s another one-in-a-million moment!

A male and female tourist look at the topography of Grand Canyon National Park from a ledge Tourists survey the scenic surrounds. (Image: Gina Reynolds)

Bryce Canyon’s honeycomb-coloured, sandstone fissures called hoodoos are nothing short of amazing and we’re struck dumb. With plenty of time many of us reverently wind our way down to the bottom.
There is so much to praise on this tour, which also includes the Painted Desert, Glen Canyon Dam, the milky moonscape of Lake Powell, the Mormon town of St George, and hiking the awe-inspiring Zion National Park before returning to Las Vegas.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling with Cosmos in the USA.

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Travel and writing are great passions of Gina Reynolds. She has had articles published in International Traveller, Fairfax - Senior Traveller and Peninsula and North Shore Living, and is the co-author of a book, soon to be released in Australia and the UK.

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