We have just returned from a visit to Las Vegas that included a road trip to spend two nights at the Grand Canyon's south rim. It was a highly-anticipated first-time visit and I will never forget the feelings evoked as I approached the canyon edge and caught that first glimpse of one of the world's natural wonders.
Photos can't begin to do justice to the breathtaking beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyon but these are a few of my favourites from our two day stay.
Arriving at our hotel in Tusayan, Arizona toward the end of the day after a long drive from Las Vegas and a stop at the Hoover Dam, we paused only long enough to drop off our luggage before heading to the National Park to see the canyon for the first time. Fortunately, we made it just in time for sunset.
Upon arrival, we parked the car and headed to Mather Point which is quite close to the Grand Canyon Visitor's Center. I was simply awestruck by my first view of the canyon. We have all seen images of the canyon in print and on screen but nothing can compare to the experience of seeing it in person. My 9 year-old daughter's immediate reaction was "Wow! The Grand Canyon rocks!!" and that summed it up quite perfectly. The sun was starting to set when we arrived which made the lighting difficult for taking photos but just seeing the canyon at that time of the day was incredible.
We returned the next morning and stopped for the obligatory photo at the Grand Canyon National Park sign.
We spent some time in the morning walking around Mather Point again as we were waiting to attend a presentation by one of the Rangers on wildlife in the Grand Canyon.
Emma was excited to earn her first Junior Ranger badge at Grand Canyon National Park and is keen to visit more parks so that she can collect additional badges.
After Emma had earned her badge, we boarded one of the shuttle buses heading to Yaki Point and South Kaibab Trailhead to take in different viewpoints.
One of my favourite photos from our two days at the canyon is this one of a squirrel sitting on a ledge overlooking the canyon near Yaki Point apparently enjoying the view as much as we were.
After returning to the Visitor's Center, we transferred to another shuttle bus that transported us to Grand Canyon Village where we walked along the rim near the El Tovar Hotel, had an ice cream break, purchased a cap to protect Emma's head from the sun and shopped for souvenirs at the Verkamp's Visitor Center.
We were starting to tire at this point as it was getting on into the afternoon, but decided to take the Hermit's Rest shuttle to Hopi Point in order to get a view of the Colorado River.
We opted to hike between Hopi Point and Mojave Point and the path was a bit narrow, icy and slippery in parts but we made it safely and the views were spectacular.
Wildlife sightings were an unexpected highlight of our visit as well.
We were spoiled by picture-perfect weather for the length of our visit to the Grand Canyon and enjoyed every moment of our stay. I am thankful to have had this opportunity to experience one of the world's natural wonders firsthand.
Grand Canyon National Park Facts
- The Grand Canyon is 277 river-miles long, an average of 10 miles wide and nearly 1 mile deep;
- The Grand Canyon began to appear 5 to 6 million years ago when the Colorado River began downcutting into the rock of the Colorado Plateau;
- The area was first established as a forest reserve in 1893 and gained national park status in 1919;
- Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 1,218,375 acres of land in northwestern Arizona;
- The south rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round;
- Entrance to the park is currently $25 per vehicle and $12 per person for pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists and is good for 7 consecutive days. 12 month passes are also available (pricing current as of March 2013);
- There is a free shuttle bus service at the south rim which transports visitors around several routes in the park;
- Maps as well as information on hikes, ranger-led programs, weather and other activities are available at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center;
- Kids ages 4-14 can receive Junior Ranger badges and certificates by completing a list of activities in the Junior Ranger Activity Book that can be obtained at the Visitor Center free of charge;
- There are seven distinct lodges located within the park at the south rim;
- Visitors may travel from Williams, Arizona on the vintage trains of the Grand Canyon Railway.
- Additional Information is available on the National Park Service's website.
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