Last winter we rented a house for a month near Phoenix. One of our side trips was the Grand Canyon.
We drove north from Phoenix, through Sedona, where we met friends for lunch.
We arrived in Tusayan, about 15 minutes south of the Canyon, in the late afternoon. It was getting close to sunset and the park ranger at the Visitor’s Center suggested we go into the park to see the evening colors in the canyon, then walk the rim the next day. Off we went!
I had been here as a kid, Will never, but we were both breathless at our first sight! You are standing right at the edge – no railings in most places! (That alone took my breath away.) It is just so big! Grand! It needs a bigger word….Grandzilla!
We had driven to Yavapai Point. It is one of the closest places to the rim where you can park. It was pretty chilly and very windy so we didn’t stay outside long. The Geology Museum at this lookout has huge windows so you can get good views out of the wind.
The next day we stopped back into the National Geographic Visitor Center in Tusayan and watched the IMAX Grand Canyon movie. It’s a good background for the visit, some geology and history. In the Park we drove to the Grand Canyon Village where the centerpiece is the El Tovar Hotel.
This is a wonderful old lodge which opened in 1905. Built from local limestone and Oregon pine, it was considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
From here we drove north on Hermit Road, along the rim, stopping at many of the lookout points. This road is closed in the summer. Probably too many tourists to be safe.
We could not have ordered a more perfect day, sunny and warm for winter. It was so quiet, we could hear the Colorado river rushing through the gorge almost a mile below!
Hermits rest is the farthest point west that you can drive. We backtracked 7 miles to the “Village” and the El Tovar Hotel where we parked. We began our hike along 2 miles of the canyon rim here, walking east.
The path is paved and is fairly flat. It weaves right up close to the rim in many places. I would be very nervous to have kids along this trail. There are very few barriers to a sheer drop off the edge!
That’s a tiny little person standing up there (above). This is as close to the edge as I would go when we got there!
We ended our hike at the main Visitor Center where we had a snack. The park runs a very handy bus service between the two major centers so we were able to get a ride back to our car. We only waited a few minutes. The driver said summer time is a totally different experience.
We finished up our time at the canyon by driving farther east, along Desert View Drive, to the 70 foot Desert View Watchtower. Built in 1932 of stone and mortar, it was inspired by prehistoric towers found in the region.
Here is a cool picture taken by my son later in the month when he and his wife drove up to the canyon for a day.
The Grand Canyon is truly grand. It is so big you can’t take it all in. I can only imagine the crowds in the summer. No thanks. We were so lucky to get such a perfect day to walk the rim trail.