Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Grand Canyon

Established as a National Monument in 1908 and made a National Park in 1913, The Grand Canyon gets about 5 Million visitors a year. Though we try to avoid extremely crowded places such as this, the Canyon was a good distance from our last stop, Prescott, so we decided to brave the crowds and spend a few nights right in the park to marvel at this incredible geologic wonder.

After setting up camp, we walked half a mile to the main visitor center and then a couple of miles along the Canyon rim. No matter how many times one visits the Canyon, you can't help but be awed by its immensity and the colors that change with the light.

It really is GRAND!

Sunday afternoon crowd at Mather Point, close to the main visitor center.

There are three campgrounds in the Park at the South Rim, and Trailer Village has full hookups (we like our full hookups!). It's not particularly scenic or private, but it's only about half a mile from the Canyon rim and elk walk through at any time of day.

Taken from our front door at 2pm.

A short walk from camp gave us a colorful sunset view into the canyon.

On our first full day we biked from camp to Hermits Rest at the West end of the Park and back for a total of 21.5 miles of paved trail/road with excellent views into the Canyon. The great thing about the Park: most visitors don't venture far from the Village or the shuttle bus stops, and only about 1% go below the rim. Thus, as we rode, we would sometimes hit a vista point as the shuttle bus dropped off a load of sightseers, but more often than not, we would have the trail to ourselves.




Fellow RVers Sean and Marian (whom we met in Sedona) arrived in the Park and we enjoyed a couple of excellent meals together as well as a little hike below the rim. Calling it a "little hike" is kind of an understatement because what goes down must come back up! Starting at the South Kaibab trail head we dropped about 1200 feet into the Canyon in about 1.5 miles to Cedar Ridge.

The Park tries hard to make visitors understand how difficult the walk back up to the rim can be!

We road to the trail head on a full shuttle bus. In retrospect, an earlier start than 10am would have meant a more peaceful trail experience...

Down, down, down!

We had a great rest stop at Cedar Ridge before the steep hike back to the rim.

The colors and layers in the canyon never cease to WOW!

We're happy to have experienced Grand Canyon together (we'd each visited before) and with Sean and Marian...but we'll probably avoid the South Rim in the future. Some day I'd like to visit the North Rim.

Today we're heading into Utah for a couple of weeks...I hope you'll come along for the adventure!



20 comments:

  1. Gorgeous views. Great weather and no fires helps.

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    1. No fires in the campground either which makes us happy! Don't like the smell of smoke in the evenings.

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  2. The Grand Canyon is something to see, for sure, but the crowds do detract from the experience. We have yet to get to the North Rim, either, but hope to one of these days.

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    1. Since the crowds are minimal at the North Rim I can't wait to check it out...but they don't open until May 15th...it will be some other year for us.

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  3. What gorgeous photos! I am always in awe of the Grand Canyon and have yet to do that hike below the rim. I would also like to the raft trip someday. Thanks for bringing back the inspiration to put the Grand Canyon back on our travel list.

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    1. About 10 years ago I hiked to the bottom and back up in one day. It was a killer hike and once you get about 2 miles below the rim there are comparatively few people. I am glad I did it, but probably won't do it again!

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    2. We did the same in 2006. We took the S. Kaibab Trail down and the Bright Angel Trail back up (I am going from memory here; hope those are the right names). The hike was over 16 miles long and quite strenuous. And it's very true; although we were passed by a couple of mule teams on the way down, as well as a few younger, faster hikers; I think maybe only one or two hikers passed us on the way back up -- there just weren't that many people who hiked that far. This is not something you'll want to do on a whim; we had trained for a few months ahead of time in various mountain parks in the east. But it was certainly a memorable hike of a lifetime!

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    3. Emily, that is the same route I did!

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  4. I would love to do that hike and yes and early start should be an order. I've hiked only the Angel Bright trail and like you said the down part was easy the up was a different story.
    Great Pictures, and they are Grand!

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    1. When I did the Canyon in one day I started at the crack of dawn, lots of solitude at that time of day!

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  5. Gorgeous photos! I especially love the last one! I have been to the rim many times, but I am eager to "go below" on my next visit. Thanks for the tip on the park and the bike trail. Would be nice to ride along the rim.

    Suzanne (Still loving Point of Rocks!)

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    1. I would suggest driving to Grand View Point and "go below" on that trail...fewer crowds. We expected to hike that trail today but chose to move on instead.

      So glad you are enjoying Point of Rocks!

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  6. Great post. The North rim has a lot less people and great camping near and around the National Park. I have never had reservations and have always found greats sites! Enjoy..

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    1. Thanks for the tip William, it's on my list!

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  7. Great photos and the Grand Canyon is indeed grand :-)

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  8. You caught the light just right in all your pictures! It's so beautiful and yes, grand!
    We will be riding right along with you to Utah! It's one of my favorite states. I noticed you are staying at Kodoachrome. There is a hike not far from there...Williis Creek. Very nice canyon trail.

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    1. Thanks for the tip. We've never visited Kodachrome...can't wait!

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  9. Looking forward to seeing the magnificence of the Canyon but not the inevitable crowds :-(. Looks like you did it the right way to avoid them as much as possible. Good job on the hike up and out!!

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  10. Always love the Canyon! Last time we were there we saw a condor! Amazing!

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