Will Gadd is one of the most skilled paragliders in the world today. If you get a chance, check out his DVD Three Flights.
One of the three flights is over Grand Canyon. It is tricky because Grand Canyon is a National Park with airspace rules that one cannot fly lower than 14,500 ft. And once you start, the only stop is across the canyon and beyond the national park boundary. There is no spot in between to land. Further, a paraglider loses approx. 200 ft. per minute.
Paragliders use pockets of hot air called thermals and fly in circles inside thermals to gain altitude. Once they have gained enough altitude, they start cruising hoping that they either make it to the end or find another thermal.
Here’s a small clip:
Will also broke the world record in 2002 for longest flight in a day: 263 miles. This was near the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. The geographical location for long flights is even more important than skills.