||Redtail AviationI saw more in an hour flying over Canyonlands than I had seen in three years of driving around it.Hiking on solid earth has always been my favorite way to experience Southern Utah, but as a travel writer I am sometimes required to change my mode of transportation. So it was that I buckled into a four-seat Cessna aircraft to get a bird’s-eye view of Canyonlands National Park.Lavar Wells is one of the pilots for Redtail Aviation out of Moab. “I’ve been flying people over Canyonlands for 33 years now”, said Wells.”I had a young couple with me yesterday. They were on their honeymoon and told me this flight was the highlight of their entire honeymoon.” Now that is saying something.
I was nervous at take-off, but it helped to remember that Redtail has never had an injury-causing accident.
We headed south and soon we were flying over Dead Horse Point and entering Canyonlands. I have been to the park more than 10 times in the past year, but I suddenly realized I was seeing it for the first time. This is the way Canyonlands should be experienced: all at once, in one view. The erosive forces of the Colorado and Green rivers unfold before you.
Seeing Canyonlands from the ground is like feeling an elephant in the dark. You can tell what each part of the elephant is, but you still can’t imagine what the entire elephant looks like until you see it all at once.
First we viewed the Maze district, so named for the red rocks that appear to have been arranged into a giant brain-teaser puzzle. I have never visited this area on foot because it is so remote.
Then the sight I had most looked forward to, the confluence or joining of the Green and Colorado rivers.
The two rivers are different colors and, as they join, the colors stay separate for a quarter mile.
From here we flew over the Needles section in the far south end of the park. Pinnacles stretched upward to create an alien world. Lavar told me of a lady from the Netherlands who, as she saw the Needles section, commented, I don’t have enough eyes to see it all.
Bonnie Lindgren met me as I got off the airplane. Bonnie and her husband own Redtail Aviation, flying out of both Moab and Green River. You get the most for your money with the one-hour Canyonlands Scenic Flight, said Bonnie. You can see all three sections of Canyonlands, Dead Horse State Park and the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in one hour. We find that if people fly longer than an hour they get too overwhelmed.
Plan a flight over Canyonlands on your next trip to Moab. You can reach Bonnie at Redtail Aviation, Moab airport (north of Moab).