The Drive to the Grand Canyon
Following my tour of the Antelope Canyon, Page, I headed South on a 3 hour drive to the Grand Canyon.
As mentioned in previous posts, the 89 Highway is currently impassable- so as a detour I decided to take an Indian dirt road as an alternative to the 1 hour paved detour. It definitely shook me around a bit but well worth the time and fuel saved. (The road, which was formerly Coppermine Road 20 has since been renovated and upgraded to Highway 89T to accommodate the traffic that would have been occupied by the 89.)
I eventually took the turning onto the 64 which took me on a 1 hour scenic drive along the rim of the canyon all the way to Grand Canyon Village.
As expected there are several lookout points along the Desert View Road, some of which include Native American market stalls and craft shops. I twisted along the road stopping off at all the notable pullovers- The Watchtower, Najavo Point, Moran Point and Grandview Point before finally arriving at Grand Canyon Village.
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Grand Canyon Village
When I first visited the Grand Canyon, about 6 years prior with my family, we didn’t really make it into the Grand Canyon Village itself. Instead we took one of the most memorable tours we have done together; Departing from Vegas we were driven down into the depths of the canyon where we then went rafting with a Native colony. We drifted along the Colorado river,bumped through class 3-4 rapids, stopped off at several of banks along the canyon and then took a helicopter flight from the basin to the summit at the end of the day.
This time, on my own, my plan was to obtain a permit and hike down from top to bottom along the South Kaibab trail, set up camp and sleep by the Colorado River before hiking out of the canyon via the Bright Angel Route the following day.
I went to the Wilderness Permit office almost immediately when I arrived, to ensure I would acquire the pass for my planned hike in the morning. However, much to my disappointment, I was told that there were no available passes for a week. In addition all the campgrounds were full up- there wasn’t a spare spot to be had anywhere. It was the first time along the trip that I had hit some misfortune with the permit system and was a real setback.
Dispirited I took a quick tour around the village- definitely much more of a town. I was totally unaware that the Grand Canyon had a school, train links and a supermarket, not to mention a huge population of Elk that roamed freely around the whole area.
The South Rim
As the evening drew closer I headed to the South Rim for my first real walk along the tip of the Grand Canyon. Again, like so many of the national parks I have visited it didn’t disappoint. The sheer size of the Canyon is mind blowing- its totally out of control and truly makes you think about the scale and timeline of things around us: You can see the different layers and sediments of time- fossils and individual realms locked into the canyon walls, which have taken over 2 billion years to erode into a mile deep canyon- its mad when you think about it!
I walked from the top of the Bright Angel trail head to Yavapai point, where I perched myself up against a rock to watch the sunset across the canyon. It was awesome!
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The Canyon at Night
With the sun now replaced by the moon I headed to the Grand Hotel, partly to eat, partly to recharge my camera batteries and mostly just to snoop around. Situated on the edge of the Canyon, the lodge boasts perhaps the best back garden in the world.
I used the extensive decked porch area as a base to nap and watch as the night canvas revealed itself. As the people dissipated and the Rim of the canyon emptied, large families of Elk took over and grazed the green garden patches across the hotel grounds. With the exception of the occasional drunken slur from groups of friends as they left the hotel bar in a bid to find their lodges, the grazing from the Elk herds was the only noise on top of the canyon.
With the night at its darkest, the farthest away galaxies began to glimmer and the faint dust clouds of the milky way began to emerge. I listened intently as a Ranger talked to a small group of people about the vast star line and with his navigation, watched as Venus dipped below the horizon and Saturn began to rise. Again being in a place this monumental, with such an incomparable scale, watching as the outer reaches of our galaxy revealed itself and as planets walked across the night sky, is crazy and it doesn’t half boggle the mind! Anyway here’s some cool pictures of the nightsky-It was so dark that you could see, fairly clearly the lights of St.George and even more clearly the lights of Las Vegas, both of which are more than 200 miles away!