A Grand Old Time

0906_btupgradeTackling the South Rim by Jeep
Eden Batki

Parents-to-be from Chicago get a bird's-eye view of the Grand Canyon, courtesy of BT.

Using our powers for the good of the people
"When you're staring out from the rim, the canyon looks like a movie set," says Chicago native Meghan Nelson. "It doesn't even look real." Meghan and her husband, Ben, weren't quite sure how to tackle the Grand Canyon on their road trip from Tucson to Las Vegas—the avid hikers were expecting their first child three months later. "I won't be as mobile as I'd like," she wrote to us. "But it's our first time, so we'll want to see as much as we can."

BT set out to find the parents-to-be some land and air transportation with thrilling access. First, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters flew the couple over the gorge's widest and deepest part. "Seeing it from above made us appreciate how vast, three-dimensional, and utterly spectacular it is," Meghan says.

That afternoon, Grand Canyon Old West Jeep Tours drove them along the more accessible South Rim, where they spotted a newly built bald eagle's nest. Their guide said it looked like a starter home, where a mother would lay one of her first eggs. For Meghan, the nest held special resonance: "I wish we could find a home with a view like those eagles had."

Behind the Upgrade
The only outfitter that flies the entire canyon, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters offers eight itineraries, like the North Canyon Tour, which took Ben and Meghan around the North Rim for about 25 minutes (papillon.com, from $129 per person). Grand Canyon Old West Jeep Tours drove the couple on a scenic ride through the Kaibab National Forest and then along the South Rim, with a stop at Grandview Point, the canyon's southernmost tip (grandcanyonjeeps.com, from $63 per person).

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