Grand Canyon National Park
137 days away
21 km / 13 miles since last post
52,227 km / 32,452 miles total
Despite it being a cold night outside we were snug and warm in our little home on wheels last night, and had a good nights sleep. This morning we headed off to the visitor centre just down the road to get our entry passes for the Grand Canyon National Park - which are valid for seven days - then drove up into the park. Our campsite is just a mile from the entrance so just a short drive for us this morning.
We are visiting the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and over the opposite side is the north rim. It says in our leaflet that the canyon is ten miles wide between the north and south rims, as the crow flies, but to drive between the two would be a journey of 215 miles. It also says that the north rim is closed in the winter months (i.e. closed right now), so it's a good job we came to the south rim otherwise that would have been a long detour!
We parked the motorhome in the main car park at the visitor centre, which is a few miles into the park, and walked over to the canyon rim. There had been quite a bit of anticipation for this moment, especially as we had arrived at the campsite last night but hadn't yet seen the canyon. It has to be said that seeing it for the first time is amazing. It is such a stunning view. Even though you know it's going to be big, nothing prepares you for just how awesome it looks. A real highlight of our travels.
You can take the walk along the rim of the canyon in either direction, and there are also free shuttle buses which run some of the way - so if you feel you can't walk anymore you can just hop on a bus. We decided to take a stroll along the rim heading west and see how far we get.
Not far from where we started we saw that a few people were climbing down to a cool lookout point below. It looked a bit dangerous to get down there - but aren't all the best places like that? In fact it wasn't really that dangerous at all, there were just a couple of tricky rocks to climb down - only tricky for me as I needed longer legs. Once down there it was great because you could walk right out with a great view of the canyon, and because it was a bit tricky to get there it meant not many people were there either. We got some lovely photographs here.
After taking lots of shots we had to tear ourselves away and climb back up to the main path. Here we carried on our walk along the rim, although it was very slow going as you stop every few metres for yet another amazing photo opportunity. I am very glad we came here during the week, as although there were plenty of people around I am sure it would be heaving at the weekends. This was just fine as it was.
Each time you stop and take another picture, although it's still the same canyon, you still get a different perspective each time. It really is an amazing sight.
We found a great little place to stop for some lunch. We had come prepared with some sandwiches, fruit and water. We found a spot on some benches in the shade, with a great view over the canyon. While we were there a guy had set up a scope to look at a couple of points in the canyon. One was a trail which led down to a small two story building - I had no idea they actually had buildings down there! He then pointed it to an iron bridge which straddles the colorado river down below. Despite it looking tiny from where we were, it was around 450 metres long. Stu also managed to look at them through his zoom lens.
After some sustenance we continued our walk along the rim, for yet more great sights and photos. We even spotted a few of the Pinyon jay birds in the trees and flying around us - very attractive blue birds.
We had been walking for a few more hours round the rim, and I think a combination of the walking, the elevation (7,000 feet), the sun beating down upon us and, not to mention, our camera equipment and other baggage we carry around, we were feeling a little tired. We decided to pop into a bar nearby and got a drink and some food. It was a well deserved rest, and just what we needed - and so was the ice cream afterwards too!
As sunset would soon be approaching we wanted to get slightly further round the rim to try and get a good spot. We caught one of the free shuttle buses to take us a couple of stops further along the rim path heading west. We got off at Powell Point, which had a great little lookout point we could climb down to. But after this we walked onto the next spot at Hopi Point to stay for the sunset. There were already some people there, but not too many so it was easy to find a good spot.
As time went on and the sun began to drop we could see that it probably wasn't going to be an amazing sunset, as the cloud had increased. It was still nice to see the warm colours of the setting sun reflecting off the rocks. However, the setting sun meant that all the heat of the day was going, and as the wind picked up too it started to get very cold.
After the sun had disappeared beyond the horizon we walked up to the shuttle bus stop, which had a massive queue of people waiting at it. I assume everyone was leaving at the same time. Fortunately, these buses run every ten minutes so there wasn't long to wait.
We had to get this bus back to the village where we had eaten earlier, then switch to another bus to take us back to the visitor centre where we had parked. Along the way we spotted some of the Mule deer in the headlights of the bus, as they were just crossing the road. They looked very sweet.
Once back in our motorhome we drove back to the campsite where we had stayed the previous night. It made sense as it was only a short drive, and we would be able to hook up to the electric and water - campsites within the National Park would not be able to provide this.
The campsite was closed by the time we arrived, but this isn't a problem as you can just register yourself in and pay them in the morning. We settled down to a nice cup of tea to warm us up, got cracking on our blog posts and settled in for the rest of the night.