On our way to the Grand Canyon we crossed over the Glen Canyon Dam. It is from this location that many of the rafting trips into the Grand Canyon begin. It was our first impression of how big and expansive everything would be from this point forward.
Our first view of the Grand Canyon was from the Desert View overlook just inside the East Entrance Station on the South Rim. We’ve seen a lot of gorgeous scenery out here in the West but we were impressed! It was huge and beautiful! We climbed the watchtower for a view from a higher perch and it got even better. What an amazing place! The watchtower itself had walls decorated with traditional Indian drawings. It was built by the National Park service as a visitor’s center but also as a way of honoring the heritage of the local Indian tribes.
We continued on through the central part of Grand Canyon National Park and made our way to our campground in the Kaibab National Forest, just south of the town of Tusayan. The National Forest has no place to fill (or dump) water (or waste) tanks so we had to fill the fresh water tank while still in the Grand Canyon N.P. The campground was very nice and we enjoyed the site even though we didn’t spend much time there.
On our first full day in the Park, we hiked three to four miles of the south rim and took the park buses to numerous overlook points. We were again impressed with the bus system which made getting around so easy and cut down on the motor traffic in the park. The National Park system really seems to have mastered this service.
The next day started early with a spectacular helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. It was Pat’s first helicopter ride and she certainly enjoyed it. The tour was with Maverick Helicopters and they did an excellent job. Our pilot was a great guide and gladly answered all of our questions. We have dozens of great pictures and even a couple of video clips!
We took the bus to the more eastern end of the central park area in the afternoon for more views from the rim. We also saw many of the donkeys that are used for tours into the canyon. The next day when we hiked into the canyon ourselves, we would see many of them returning from an early trip with supplies to the ranch at the bottom of the canyon. We also joined the geology walk with a park ranger to learn more about the formation of the Grand Canyon and why such a formation exits only here. We stayed late in the park to watch the sunset from Mohave Point
Our last day here started with a hike on the South Kaibab Trail down into the canyon. Bob had been looking forward to this ever since our arrival (Pat, not so much). The hike itself was only 3 miles round trip—a pretty short distance considering we do more than that most days as our morning exercise. The big difference—a 1,140 feet change in elevation. We started at 7,260 feet and the turn around point was at 6,120 ft. The first mile and a half was easy and pleasant. We passed “Ooh Aah” point which lived up to its’ name. The return trip was everything we expected—difficult and hot, but it was satisfying know we did it! The views along the route were impressive. It was very different looking up at canyon walls where previously we had looked down. If we had to choose one word to describe the Grand Canyon, it would be immense!
After we climbed back to the South Rim, we called it a day after a little souvenir shopping, then back to the trailer to pack up for an early start to Las Vegas tomorrow.