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Heading to one of the world’s most epic landscapes?

Obviously the ideal way to do it is to take a couple of weeks off, pack your hiking boots/ waterproofs/ thermal undies/ tent/ kayak (depending on the location) and immerse yourself in the place. That’s the dream, anyway. But if you’ve only got a day or so to see somewhere, then there’s always the cheater’s option – the helicopter flight. No preparation, no effort, all you have to do is just sit back, strap in and enjoy the views.

1. Grand Canyon, US

Of all the world’s greatest gasp-worthy, press-your-nose-against-the-glass kind of helicopter rides, one of the most sensational has to be a trip over the Grand Canyon. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a flight over the 277 miles by 18 miles of canyon scenery is really the only way to get a sense of the scale of the place. 

As you swoop over the canyon, you’ll be able to see almost two billion years of geological history, where the Colorado River has carved through deep layers of rock, which many geologists agree happened more than 17 million years ago. 

There are plenty of route options to choose between, some of which land for picnics or short hikes, others which are air-only. Either way, you’ll see the kind of scenery that’ll make you want to burst into tears, song or fits of whooping. Look out for the rich patterns and red, orange, pink and purple layers of the Painted Desert. The Desert View Watchtower (pictured left) at the canyon’s eastern edge is another impressive landmark, built by architect Mary Colter in 1932 and based on the traditional lookout towers of the native Pueblo people. Point Imperial, the highest spire in the canyon is beautiful, as is Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest part of the canyon.

All you have to do now is get a booking on a dawn flight when the colours are at their most dramatic. Papillon’s tours start from £162pp. 

2. Juneau, Alaska

Wrap up warm, this flight over the Juneau Icefield is going to be chilly.Much of this region, with its epic glaciers, surreal rock formations and icefalls, looks truly otherworldly. And a plus point is that most of it is only accessible by air, so no need to feel guilty about avoiding a hike. Era Helicopters offers a Glacier Adventure Tour, which includes a quick stop to give you the chance to walk on an Alaskan glacier, for £189pp. 


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Top 5 helicopter rides: See the world's most impressive landscapes from the sky
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