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Scenery Review: Grand Canyon West - 1G4 by X-Codr Designs

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Scenery Review: Grand Canyon West - 1G4 by X-Codr Designs


By Dennis Powell




Striking geological formations and bold colors await visitors at one of America’s most iconic National Parks. The Grand Canyon, a marvel millions of years in the making, scarcely requires an introduction. Since its establishment as a National Park in 1919, this awe-inspiring canyon has captivated people, drawing attention even before the arrival of the earliest European explorers in the New World. Today, it holds deep cultural significance for at least eleven Native American tribes, with connections to the canyon tracing back to times before recorded history.

Today, Grand Canyon National Park, with its multitude of attractions, draws millions of visitors annually. Nestled at the northwest corner of Arizona, the Grand Canyon West Airport is just a short flight from Las Vegas, Nevada. Owned by the Hualapai Tribe, this airport is perched almost at the canyon's edge, offering spectacular views of the vast chasm and the Colorado River, which continues to carve out the canyon to this day.


In X-Codr Design’s latest offering, the experience extends far beyond just the airport. The package also includes a nearby visitor centre, complete with a skywalk balcony overlooking the canyon rim, a bustling tourist town, a trailer park, and other notable attractions scattered throughout the area. The highlight is undoubtedly the terrain mesh, which brings the canyon's unique geography to vivid life. Ortho photos enhance the natural colors, and an added X-Codr Designs library enriches the scenery with detailed plant life and more. This package offers an expansive exploration experience, bringing the Grand Canyon itself to life with extraordinary detail.


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Installation of 1G4, Grand Canyon West, is a straightforward three-part process. The main scenery package for X-Plane 12 occupies 524 MB, while the terrain mesh and the scenery library are considerably larger, at 3.62 GB and 1.32 GB, respectively. Fortunately, the package includes an installation guide to assist with transferring all three files into your custom scenery folder. The great news is that no additional software, such as Scenery Animation Manager, is required. Everything necessary to fully enjoy this airport is contained within the initial purchase.

One notable aspect during installation is the extended loading time when you first launch X-Plane after installing this scenery, primarily due to the substantial size of the terrain mesh. In my experience, it initially seemed as though the simulator had frozen. However, after this initial phase, X-Plane should adapt to the new scenery data and resume opening as usual.

Turning to the documentation, you are provided with a comprehensive PDF. This document offers a brief introduction to the airport, alongside detailed installation instructions. These guidelines are designed to assist you in seamlessly integrating the airport into your custom scenery folder, ensuring that all necessary files are correctly placed. The PDF also includes steps for installing alternative versions of the airport, specifically those without vegetation. I found the instructions to be exceptionally clear and straightforward, presenting no difficulties during the process.


Exploration Walk Through
Thanks to the terrain mesh, miles of the Grand Canyon itself are open for exploration. In my view, the mesh significantly enhances the canyon's appearance compared to the default scenery found in X-Plane. The entire scenery package employs orthos, with X-Codr Designs meticulously eliminating the time-of-day-dependent shadows often found in other photographic sceneries. This attention to detail effectively preserves the immersive experience and is greatly appreciated.


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Navigating along the Colorado River at the canyon's base is a reliable way to avoid getting lost while exploring this iconic National Park. At the westernmost point near the airport lies Guano Point, home to the remnants of a mining operation that began extracting guano in 1930. The views from this old mine are spectacular, offering a 360-degree panorama of the canyon.


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Moving eastward towards the airport, you encounter the Eagle Point Visitor’s Centre and the renowned skywalk over the canyon. The main building features a limited interior visible through the windows. 


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An outdoor theatre with a sculpted fabric roof and several Teepees and rudimentary buildings reflects the historical presence of Native American tribes. The visitor’s centre, with its detailed exterior, stands out as a highlight of this scenery.


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To the southeast of the airport is the Hualapai Ranch, a quaint tourist attraction resembling a Wild West town, complete with guest cabins and a barn with open-air stables. 


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Nearer to the airport, a small trailer park adds intrigue, though its purpose remains unclear; possibly housing local workers or a worksite.


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Grand Canyon West’s main runway, a 5000-foot strip of well-maintained asphalt, is faithfully rendered. Notably, the runway's transparent texture, a holdover from X-Plane 11's requirements, means AI aircraft do not operate here, ensuring a solitary flying experience, with no chance of collisions.


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The airport itself focuses on helicopter tours, featuring numerous helipads accurately depicted in the scenery. The main airport and heliport are separated by a fence line with several gates for helicopter tour customers. This is the only area where the gates seem slightly overdone.


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Each structure within the package, especially the unique main terminal, is custom-built and modelled with impressive attention to detail. 


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A notable feature in the parking area is a circular lot with varied textures, possibly reflecting an artistic element of the Hualapai Tribe, the airport's owners.


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Night Lighting
I began exploring the night lighting just after sunset. During twilight, the off-airport lights posed a challenge to discern, but they grew increasingly pronounced as the darkness deepened. A prime example was the row of very bright lamps along the flight line from the FBO. In stark contrast, the lighting near the tourist town, situated just over a mile away, was so subtle that it was almost imperceptible unless one was in close proximity.


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Performance Impact
My computer is somewhat of a 'Frankenstein' creation, assembled over the years by my son and me. It's powered by a somewhat dated CPU running at 3.5 GHz, a quad-core processor whose compatibility with X-Plane's core usage I'm not entirely sure of. We have 16 GB of RAM, and recently upgraded from an older AMD graphics card with 8 GB of VRAM to a newer Nvidia model boasting 12 GB of VRAM.

To my pleasant surprise, this scenery package yielded frame rates in the mid to upper 30s, a significant improvement over my past experiences. Previously, with an older card and a different X-Codr Designs scenery package, my computer struggled to the point of being unusable. However, this package, despite its detailed terrain mesh and orthos, ran very smoothly. This leads me to believe that even moderately updated, or slightly older systems, should be able to run this package without any notable loss in performance.



Grand Canyon West Airport by X-Codr Designs offers an engaging and detailed experience of a quaint airport set against the backdrop of the Grand Canyon's awe-inspiring landscape. The airport, while not extensive in size, impresses with its meticulous details, and the added attractions enhance its appeal. It's a perfect destination for helicopter enthusiasts and the fixed-wing community alike, thanks to its proximity to Las Vegas.


The effort X-Codr Designs has invested in the buildings and in achieving realistic runway textures is laudable, reflecting their commitment to authenticity. Although there are a few placement choices regarding the security gates along the fence line that might seem peculiar, this does little to detract from the overall excellence of the scenery. Additionally, the decision to use transparent textures for varied textures, more suited to X-Plane 11, is a minor point and doesn't diminish the experience for X-Plane 12 users. 


Overall, this scenery package stands out as a must-have, capturing the iconic essence and beauty of the Grand Canyon region in an exceptional way.


Dennis Powell, Sunset Arts LTD.






Grand Canyon West - 1G4 by X-Codr Designs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


Grand Canyon West - 1G4

Priced at US$14.99



Detailed rendition of 1G4 – Grand Canyon West:

  • All buildings feature ultra-high-resolution textures.
  • All buildings feature advanced PBR normal maps for realistic reflections and bump mapping.
  • All buildings are highly detailed, down to even door handles.
  • Most buildings feature "lite" interiors to give windows more depth.
  • Large scale realistic ground textures with high frequency tiled normal maps for detail.
  • All models optimized for maximum performance.

Living scenery:

  • Integration with X-Plane 12 weather effects
  • Ground equipment automatically serves your aircraft upon request.
  • Local Landmarks
  • Detailed rendition of the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk.
  • Detailed rendition of Guano Point and the old tramway
  • Detailed rendition of the Cabins at Grand Canyon West.

Custom surroundings

  • 30m mesh surrounding the airport covering roughly 40% of the Grand Canyon (+36-114/+35-114)
  • ZL16 USGS NAIP Orthoimagery is used for both ortho tiles.
  • Nearly all ugly shadows removed from Orthoimagery for a clean realistic view of the canyon.
  • Forests procedurally placed from ortho show X-Plane 12 3d vegetation in the correct areas, and nowhere else.
  • Alpilotx’s UHD Mesh V4 provides all other overlay elements (used with his permission).


X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included)
Windows, Mac, or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 4.8 GB
XP12: September 7th, 2022
XP11: 1.01 (February 7th, 2022)


Review System Specifications

Windows 10 Intel i5-6600K 16GB RAM RTX 2060 with 12GB VRAM




Scenery Review by Dennis Powell
29th November 2023
Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions).




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  • Dominic Smith changed the title to Scenery Review: Grand Canyon West - 1G4 by X-Codr Designs

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