2015: Lake Powell

Tower Butte Helicopter

April 1

Tower Butte.

One of the most iconic formations near Lake Powell is Tower Butte. It's not easy to get anywhere near it in a car, but surfing the web I found a local helicopter company that will actually land you on the top of the butte and let you walk around for about a half hour. Sweet!

So that morning at 7 a.m., we stumbled bleary-eyed into the Page, AZ airport to meet our pilot Dean. Tall, clean-cut, low-key and square-jawed, I would have sworn he was ex-military; but no, he learned to fly on his own, working in search-and-rescue before taking on the tourist gig.

Dean the pilot. Yikes!

Dean took us out to the helicopter and gave a short safety briefing, and then we were strapped in and ready to go. Turns out we were the only passengers today so we both got great window seats. Awesome! As the rotors started to gather speed, music swelled in our headsets, reminding me of a wonderful helicopter ride we took in Maui many years ago.

The flight was short but thrilling. It was difficult to take photos while in flight, so Mike waited until we landed. I was manning the video camera the whole time. We were both impressed with Dean's landing skills; as we started to set down, there was a bit of turbulence and he deftly maneuvered the small chopper through it onto the ground. After we got out, I was shocked at how close to a rocky ledge we were sitting!

Butte top. On top of the world.

The top of the butte was mostly flat, populated only with small grass tufts and scattered lava rocks. Dean told us that when the season gets busier in a few weeks, they put picnic tables up here!

But while the ground where we landed might be pedestrian, the scene around us was anything but, with Lake Powell and its surroundings laid out below in a 360-degree panorama.

What a view! Long way down.  Feelin' small.

Too soon, it was time to leave. On the return trip, Dean took us on a long and beautiful flight over many different parts of the lake and its tributaries before returning to the airport. Here's the video I took. Enjoy.