No tour of U.S. National Parks would be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Neither Finn nor I had been there so we were excited to finally visit. We camped in Williams, AZ, about an hour and twenty minutes south of the park entrance. There is a train you can take from Williams to the Canyon but the trip takes two and a half hours and is an expensive ticket. We decided to get up early and drive there.
Many of the parks and monuments we’ve visited can be seen from miles away as you approach. The Grand Canyon, however, doesn’t give you any indication of what you’ll be seeing until you’re about fifty feet from the rim. Then it opens up to the extreme gulf of space a mile deep. The park, 277 miles long and up to 18 miles across, is made all the more impressive by the fact that you can see very large portions of it from almost any vantage point. Visitors typically come to the southern rim and hike the rim trail. It’s a 5 hour drive to get around to the northern rim, so we viewed the canyon from just one side.
The day started out sunny but by the afternoon the weather grew hazy and then came rain. We walked along the southern rim and then drove east along the rim to more overlooks.
Along the rim trail there are lodges, museums, and shops to break up the hike. There are also free shuttle buses along the way to help you get around the various visitor locations. We were there for the canyon so we spent most of the time on the trail until the heavy rain came. Then we ducked into a lodge for lunch.
The canyon is as big as I imagined. There are a few trails that take you down but they warn pretty heavily against hiking it in the signs and literature. They say they have to rescue 250 people per year hiking on the descending trails. We stuck to the rim and enjoyed a full day of sightseeing. We think next time we visit we’ll plan for some of the activities like a mule ride down or rafting on the Colorado River. I think to fully appreciate the canyon you also need to get down into it and experience it from the bottom.