Grand Canyon National Park
There's a good reason it's called the Grand Canyon. It is really grand. The canyon is really unbelievably large. We approached the park from the east, and drove through the Little Canyon area on the way. It's pretty large and spectacular. And then you get to the Grand Canyon. You just have to stop and gawk. It is so large, wide and deep.
We learned about the layers of rock and how the Colorado River just kept eating through the rock as the ground rose around it. That's nice to learn but it is just so LARGE it is really difficult to say anything else about it.
We drove in and had trouble finding a place to park with the trailer, so we kept going to our campground. We had made reservations in the trailer village, and it was a good thing. Even though we were just before the season started, the place was packed. I can't imagine what it must be like in the middle of summer.
Many of the park areas require you to take a shuttle bus or walk or bicycle to see them as otherwise there would be so many people vying for so few parking spots that it would be a real mess. Even though you have to have some patience while waiting for the bus, at least it's better than it would be if all those people were all trying to drive.
The first day, we took the shuttle bus to Hermit's Rest. We started by walking the start of the rim trail from the Bright Angel trailhead to the west along, well, the rim of the canyon. So how do you think the places happened where they put the trails down to the bottom of the canyon? Thank the earthquake faults for providing a little gap that you could squeeze a trail in. We stopped at the Trail Overlook and could see a lot of the Bright Angel trail as it went down from the rim toward the Colorado River. At this spot, you can't see the river but there are a number of places where you can see it. We walked for a while until we started to get tired and hot, and then started taking the shuttle bus along the rim trail, and eventually, 7 miles later, we ended up at Hermit's Rest. Many of the places like Hermit's Rest are where the first tourists came to stay along the rim as the railroad or wagons brought people to visit. Some like Hermit's Rest didn't survive as hotels but are now just footnotes in the canyon history.
After returning from Hermit's Rest, we caught another shuttle bus back toward our campsite. Did I say how crowded the buses and the whole place were? The later in the morning until suppertime, it was pretty packed. We made our way back then were able to catch several park ranger programs, including one on the condors who have returned, and the geology of the canyon. Then after dinner, we decided to go to Yavapai Point (by car) and see the sunset. That worked out well. We had time to see the Geology Museum and to then see the sunset from the point and from the shelter of the museum, as it was getting cold and windy along the edge of the canyon.
The next day, we took the Kaibab Rim shuttle bus (the only way you can get there) to South Kaibab trailhead. A ranger had told us that this was a good place to take a little of the trail into the canyon without having to hike too far down. We went as far as Ooh Aah Point. It's a good place to get below the rim of the canyon and to ooh and aah at where we were. It was about a mile down and a mile back, of course, and was a great hike.
We walked around the Village area, and visited the several stores and museums there as well as poking our heads into the hotels there. At Bright Angel Lodge, we stopped at the tour desk for the mule trips and asked why the one-day down and back trip which we took 29 years ago was no longer offered. We were told that the park service decided a few years ago that the trail was just too crowded with the ever increasing numbers of tourists for so many mule trips and so many people, so they discontinued that same-day trip. That was too bad as we really enjoyed it.
After returning to our campsite and having dinner, we again went to Yavapai Point to see the sunset. Wow, a great sunset from a great location two nights in a row!
We stayed at the Trailer Village which provided full hookup trailer and RV sites. The sites were like typical RV camps, pretty close together but tolerable. And we got some entertainment at our site with the elk walking through browsing for breakfast. That's elks, like 3 elk.
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Retirement is great. We bought a travel trailer and are exploring National Parks. (Actually, we bought one and sold it and bought a second one better suited to us. It happens...) And I have time to do some woodworking projects and things around the house. And now I have gotten interested in ham radio so there goes any free time.