The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park

          The splendor and enormity of the Grand Canyon is so mind-boggling that it’s no wonder people flock from all over the world to see it. On my recent trip to this World Heritage Site I encountered so many enthralled visitors speaking foreign languages that it almost felt like I was in another country. This one mile deep, eight mile wide canyon was formed over a period of millions of years through erosion carved by the Colorado River which snakes through it for 277 miles. Various Native American cultural groups inhabited the canyon dating back as far as 1200 BC. President Theodore Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to the area and was instrumental in preserving the Grand Canyon, which became a National Park in 1919. If you’re staying in Sedona, the Grand Canyon is just a 117 mile, two hour drive north, making it an easy day trip.

Colorado River on the Grand Canyon Floor?

Can You See the Colorado River on the Canyon Floor?

Spectacular Colors of the Grand Canyon

Spectacular Colors of the Grand Canyon

Historic Sites

          We encountered a bit of a wait at the South Rim entrance to the park, but that’s the price you pay to see one of the world’s most popular destinations. Speaking of the price to pay, don’t forget that seniors (age 62 and older) with a lifetime pass (one time fee of $10) do not have to pay an entrance fee at this or any other national park. There is ample parking within walking distance of the viewing areas and the shuttle buses. Take a gander at some of the vintage trains parked in the nearby depot, part of the Grand Canyon Railway, which has been transporting tourists on the 64 mile trip between Williams, Arizona and the South Rim since 1901. Of course, you’ll be tempted to spend most of your time taking in the spectacular views, but be sure to check out the historic El Tovar Hotel, a former Harvey House Hotel, and the nearby Hopi House, both opened in 1905. The Hopi House is a pueblo style building which houses the largest gift shop in the Grand Canyon and an impressive array of Native American crafts and artwork, arranged in museum fashion. Precariously perched on the rim of the canyon is the Kolb Studio dating back to 1904, which has a great selection of books and a magnificent art gallery, not to mention a wonderful view.

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon

El Tovar Hotel, Grand Canyon

Hopi House, Grand Canyon

Hopi House, Grand Canyon

Spectacular Views from the South Rim

          By now you will have mastered the network of shuttle bus routes that lead to the various lookout points on the South Rim. The views across this expansive chasm are breathtaking and it’s easy to see why it is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Although there are 19 viewing points on the South Rim, Mather Point and Yavapai Point are two of the most popular. If time permits, hike a little bit of the Bright Angel Trail, a somewhat notorious path that leads to the Colorado River on the canyon floor below. The truly adventurous can hike from ‘rim to rim’, but any trek in this wilderness area should only be undertaken after careful planning and preparation. The once nearly extinct California condor was re-introduced to the Grand Canyon in 1996. There are now thought to be around 70 condors in the canyon area and with a little patience and luck you can see them gliding gracefully over the steep cliffs. After a visit to the Grand Canyon it is impossible for even the most seasoned traveler to leave without a sense of awe and a renewed appreciation for nature.

Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttle Bus

Grand Canyon South Rim Shuttle Bus

Bright Angel Trail to the Grand Canyon Floor

Beginning of Bright Angel Trail to the Grand Canyon Floor

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