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The Vegasification of the Grand Canyon

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" "I SAID ISN'T THE GRAND CANYON JUST MAJESTIC AND INSPIRING WHEN SEEN FROM A VERY LOUD HELICOPTER?" 

Vegas is always a hoot. But I was amazed by the many hucksters selling Grand Canyon National Park air tours. Storefronts along the Strip have garish signs promoting the flights; there are fliers and ads everywhere. The air-tour companies will even send a limo to your hotel to whisk you to a nearby airport, where they'll load you onto a helicopter or plane heading to the canyon.

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I have mixed feelings about the canyon flights. They haul a lot of people over the canyon and probably help build support for its general protection. But I've also experienced the conflicts. On our honeymoon 27 years ago, my wife and I backpacked from the North Rim, making a tough hike down to Deer Creek Falls and along the Colorado River and up Tapeats Creek, past Thunder River, a huge spring that roars from the rock wall. I've also taken an oar-powered raft trip through the canyon, feeling the natural touch of water, stone and sand. On both of those trips, the aircraft noise was a noticeable intrusion at times.

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As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.