After a 14 hour flight from Brisbane to LAX, and a further 1 hour connecting flight to Las Vegas we were finally here in the USA.

We were in Vegas for the WPPI Photography Conference and tacked on a couple of weeks to do some sightseeing around Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, before flying out to New York for a couple of weeks.

We stayed at the MGM Grand Hotel, mainly because that’s where the conference was held and made bouncing from sleep (what little of that we got) to seminars to out partying at night so much easier. Here are a couple of photos of our swish MGM suite and the views of the pool below, city buildings and snowcapped mountains in the distance.

One of the highlights of my first visit to America was booking a scenic helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We booked our Grand Canyon helicopter tour with Serenity Helicopter Tours and I can tell you it received a 5-star rating.

Our Serenity helicopter pilot was not only full of information about the Grand Canyon but the added drama of music as we flew through the air plus his enthusiasm just added to the experience. It was my first time in a helicopter too, but the tour starts with a pre-flight safety induction along with the company’s perfect safety record of over 25 years.

I was really impressed with even shooting through the dirty helicopter glass windows (through no fault of Serenity Helicopters, it’s just a nature of flying so high up in the air they gather some dust from the desert) at how amazing the photos came out. The photographs have a painterly-look and I’m so glad I have so many great aerial photos of the Grand Canyon as keepsakes.

One thing that surprised me about the Grand Canyon was the changing landscape, I guess I naively expected the desert to be fairly consistent brown dirt. The ever-changing colours and textures of the land, water and mountains, and the occasional greenery splattered throughout the canyon.

We chose the Sky Dancer Landing & Picnic Tour which is ranked as Serenity’s most popular tour. The Sky Dancer Tour takes you flying over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and The Grand Wash Cliffs on route to the Grand Canyon. The views will take your breath away as it did mine and my fellow travel buddies.

With the Sky Dancer Landing & Picnic Tour, you land at the base of the Grand Canyon, nearly 4000 feet below the rim at Serenity’s private landing site. Here you will enjoy a complimentary champagne picnic and a chance to soak up the experience of being in the Grand Canyon and among one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. There is time to go for a wander and opportunity to take photos from ground level too. Also, be prepared to be greeted and dine with the local wildlife, a family of chipmunks, darn adorable little creatures. As an Australian, I totally enjoyed meeting these critters as we don’t have chipmunks in Australia, well apart from the cartoon character variety on TV.

A helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon is an absolute must if you visit Las Vegas. Serenity Helicopters is about a 40-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, but they will pick you up from your hotel in VIP style and drop you back again after the tour.

While you might think the US$499 price tag is a little expensive, it truly is a once in a lifetime experience and totally worth the price tag.

Serenity Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours do offer other tours as well – Day Star Air Only Tour, The Sky Dancer Sunset Tour, Sunset Dinner Tour as well as create custom tours on request.

I highly recommend Serenity Helicopter Tours and was my absolute best experience while in Las Vegas, find out more on their website here.

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