The Skywalk Grand Canyon

Las Vegas' best outdoor activity? The Skywalk Grand Canyon, of course. For good reason, too: Where else in the world can you walk 70 feet past the edge and be suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River? If the idea of defying gravity intrigues you, take a moment to read my list of the top frequently asked questions about the "glass bridge:"

1. Where is the Grand Canyon Skywalk Located?

The glass bridge is at the West Rim, which is just 120 miles east of Las Vegas. Bus, helicopter, and airplane tours from Sin City take 2.5 hours, 45 minutes, and 25 minutes respectively.

2. Exactly how much do tickets cost?

There are three packages. You want the Legacy Gold Package, which costs $87.69 per adult. It includes Skywalk tickets and full access to Grand Canyon West, including the shuttle bus, Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point, Guano Point, Native American demonstrations, cowboy performances, and lunch.

3. How many people are allowed on the Skywalk at one time?

One hundred and twenty people can be on the bridge simultaneously. By contrast, the bridge was engineered to hold 800 people at once or a weight that's equivalent to 71 jumbo jets.

4. Are there long lines?

Yes, there can be. The Skywalk is the canyon's hottest attraction. Annually, more than 200,000 travelers experience it. Reservations are available. VIP tickets can be purchased that get you to the front of the line quicker. I suggest you show up in your most comfortable shoes. Consider bringing your iPod if you have one.

5. Anything special I need to bring or wear?

Definitely bring a water bottle (full) and sun block. Dress appropriately: Wind-resistant and cool in the summer months and warm layers in winter.

No outside food or drinks (except water) are permitted. The Skywalk sports a full-service snack bar if you get the munchies. Remember - Legacy Gold Packages include lunch.

Bring a camera and extra batteries and memory sticks. Yes, personal electronics are not allowed on the Skywalk in order to protect the glass deck. Professional photographers are available to take your picture on the bridge. Don't let that discourage you. You've got the entire West Rim to photograph, and the views are one-in-a-million.

6. Is there a time limit?

Currently, there is no time limit, so take your time and enjoy the incredible landscape. The best views are to be had on the right side of the bridge.

7. Is there anything else to do or see at the West Rim other than the Skywalk?

Plenty. There's the Indian Village with authentic dwellings, Guano Point, The Hualapai Market, a western town replica called The Hualapai Ranch, and a 250-seat amphitheater. The basic Legacy package ($43.05 per person) get you access to all of these attractions except the Skywalk.

Need a quick, enjoyable Las Vegas day trip? Look no further than the Skywalk Grand Canyon. Choose carefully how you visit as the price can add up. Bus, helicopter, and airplane tours are your most economic route to go, especially if you book online direct with the tour operator. I consistently save up to 35% using this strategy. So put the Skywalk on your list of things to do. It'll be the highlight of your trip.

A lot of people visit the Grand Canyon via the West, South or North rims. Each offers hiking to the bottom. But only the West Rim offers you the chance to ride a helicopter to the bottom.

Helicopter operators such as Papillon, Maverick, and Sundance, depart daily from Las Vegas for the West Rim and can complete the 120-mile trip in about 45 minutes, making this day trip ideal for travelers on a schedule.

These helicopter trips are a bargain when you consider how much you can do in such a short time frame. Papillon's Grand Celebration tour, which takes you to the bottom and includes a Champagne toast, retails for $399 but can be purchased on the company's website for $270. The price gets cheaper if you book a group of 10 or more people.

The great thing about the West Rim tour are the upgrades, which include the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a rafting trip on the Colorado River, and a flight over the Las Vegas Strip. Of those, the Skywalk is the most popular. It's a glass bridge that extends 70 feet beyond the edge of the Rim and suspends you 4,000 feet over the river.

The South Rim offers a helicopter tour, but it is banned from landing on the bottom and flies a strictly controlled airspace. That said, the 20-minute tour is magnificent and is a "must-do" if you are headed that way. Upgrades at this Rim are minimal, but do include a fantastic raft ride.

Papillon helicopter trips include transfer to and from your Las Vegas resort hotel. Flights depart from McCarran International Airport, and, en route to the West Rim, you'll see Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, before descending into the Canyon and landing at the operator's private landing site. A light lunch will be served under a real Indian Ramada. Afterwards, you're free to explore the river and the West Rim's ancient floor.

The ride to the bottom is spellbinding. This 15-minute descent would take you at least six hours on foot. As you slowly lower into the Canyon, you'll come face to face with millions of years of geology: Sheer cliffs, solitary buttes, undisturbed ravines, red sandstone, plus much more.

The ride up to the top is equally spectacular. You'll see all of the Rim's key landmarks, including Guano and Eagle Points, will unfold before your eyes, most of it unobstructed as the helicopter is comprised of wraparound glass windows. You'll also get to plug-in to the aircraft's digital communications system - it allows two-way conversation with the pilot and other guests as well as a recorded narration about the tour in multiple languages.

Grand Canyon West is the only place where you ride a helicopter to the bottom. Flights depart daily out of Las Vegas and are an ideal day trip for families, groups, and travelers who are tight on time. Papillon Helicopter's Grand Celebration tour is the most popular trip and offers visitors a host of upgrades, including admission to the Skywalk and river rafting. Trip prices start at about $270 - a total bargain when you consider that you can be at the West Rim and experiencing it in 45 minutes. For Papillon's best prices, book on-line on-line. If you are looking for something adventurous to do while in Las Vegas, consider taking this helicopter tour. It will leave you breathless.

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