Nigel Thompson Visits the Crazy Over the Top Neon World

We joined an epic bucket list-ticking trip there with 5 Star Helicopter Tours based in Boulder City, about half an hour by shuttle bus from The Strip. The Firm is run by a British couple, and we were on one of their newest excursions - the Grand Canyon & Valley of Fire Experience.

Admittedly, an aerial tour of the canyon is not cheap, but this 85-minute flight is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. Our pilot-guide John swopped over the mighty Hoover Dam and then Lake Mead, the vast reservoir formed by the dam, and which is suffering from low water following a lengthy drought. Then we entered the canyon itself, passing the scary looking Skywalk glass path over the ravine. Once in the canyon proper you are overwhelmed by its scale, with the Colorado River almost a mile beneath you and a general feeling of being about the size of a gnat as you fly through a mind-blowing spectacle of red and golden-hued rock that is all simply the result of water erosion over 17 million years.
On the return flight there’s a stop at the Valley of Fire State Park, where you’re supposed to enjoy a glass of bubbly as the sun sets, turning the eroded outcrops of 150-million-year-old sandstone a blazing red. Well, that was the best idea. Despite John’s best efforts, us passengers ignored the fizz and wandered around int he states of varying gob smacked ness looking at the scenery (we didn’t miss out, we had the fizz after the flight!) and snapping away. It struck me it looked exactly how I imagined Mars would be - through doubtless minus the bubbly in a cool box. John agreed that indeed it did. It was a location for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Martian Epic Total Recall and the likes of Star Trek and Transformers have filmed here too. The trip returns you to a small airport to the north of Las Vegas, so just 10 minutes back to The Strip, and you get a great view if the neon-soaked skyline En route.