Saturday, November 2, 2013

Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

I visited the north rim of the Grand Canyon way back in August 1974 BD (Before Donna) when I was traveling around the country with a college chum. Donna had never seen the Grand Canyon. It was high on our bucket list of places to visit. On our recent trip to Nevada (October 15, 2013), we decided to make a quick scouting trip through the south rim.

We entered the park from the east. Click here for a map of the area we covered in the park. From the East Entrance to the Visitor Center, there are a number of pull-outs where you can view the canyon. We stopped at several of these and snapped the following pictures.

East Entrance to the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Colorado River snakes its way through the canyon. This view looks eastward from the Desert View lookout.
This picture is taken from the same spot as the one immediately above, but it looks west. The river is not visible in this picture, though its course is clearly visible by the deep gorge in the center of the picture.
This shot looks west from Lipan Point. If you look closely, you can see some of the rapids in the river. It's rough, broken country, isn't it?
As we journeyed from overlook to overlook, it became clear that the canyon basically looks the same from every vantage point. And that is the memory I took away from my first visit to the Grand Canyon way back in 1974. At the time, I said that it was simply a big ditch, and I more or less feel the same way today. Now, that does not mean that I'm not impressed with what nature has done here. But I've heard from other people who have said, "If you've seen one picture of the Grand Canyon, you've seen them all." And I think there is an element of truth there. As evidence of this, look at the picture below, which was taken from the Grandview Point lookout several miles down river. It really does not look that much different than the pictures above.

The Grand Canyon as seen from Grandview Point

Donna at Grandview Point.
One thing not often shown in pictures of the Grand Canyon is the forest along the rim. The area is indeed heavily forested with a great deal of wildlife. We saw a few elk grazing near the Visitor Center during our trip.

I snapped this picture in an attempt to show how heavily forested the rim of the canyon is. The trees on the bulge in the left center of the picture are probably at least one-half mile away.
As I said earlier, one reason for our trip here today was to scout the area for possible future trips. It may be that we want to return at another time and do more extensive sight-seeing and hiking. A number of hiking opportunities exist in the park. Most people are aware of the hikes down into the canyon itself, but there are also chances to hike along the rim, something which appeals more to me these days as my legs continue to age. After all, a hike into the Grand Canyon is a "reverse hike." On a normal hike, you go out, climb up a mountain, get tired, then come down the mountain. The Grand Canyon is exactly opposite. You hike down into the canyon while you are fresh, get tired, then have to climb out when your energy is fading. I don't know that I want to do that at my age.

There is also the Yavapai Museum of Geology near the Visitor Center. Here you can really learn about the geology of the canyon as well as experience some great views. Various lodging opportunities exist throughout the park, from the Phantom Ranch along the river to places along the rim.

One thing that caught me unexpectedly was the little community of Tusayan just outside the south entrance to the park along Highway 64. As we left the park, we were ready to pick up our speed and head towards Williams. We didn't realize there was a vibrant tourist community of eateries, hotels, and outfitter services just outside the park boundary. So, if you are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, keep this place in mind; it may be your best option in securing lodging if the park is full.

Well, we've seen the Grand Canyon; we can mark it off our bucket list. There are so many places we want to see that I doubt we'll visit the park again, but you never know.

1 comment:

  1. While shooting at the Grand Canyon National Park last month, I stopped and shot from dozens of viewpoints. This spot was after the sun set from an unnamed spot along East Rim Drive. This spot was right off the road and the trees caught my eye. Set the camera on a tripod and did some long exposures to get some light into the canyon and on the trees.
    grand canyon tours out of las vegas