It was all of our first times seeing the Grand Canyon! We had heard a lot about it, of course, but it is a thing you really have to see to believe how truly grand it is!
We stayed on nearby free land in the Kaibab National Forest just a mile right outside of of the south entrance to the park. Besides the frequent helicopters, this was a nice free site in close proximity to the park. On most of the days we were there, we went into the park in the morning to beat the heat, and the crowds, and came back to the RV in the middle of the day for work and naps, then went back to the Canyon for dinner and sunsets.
On our first day there, we headed to the Visitor Center where we learned a bit at the exhibits, and watches the 20 minute video about the park that even the kids enjoyed. Then we walked to Mather Point for our first view of the Grand Canyon! It was really magnificent, and we saw some elk right next to the trail we were walking on. It was tempting to reach out and touch them, but unlike the lady in front of us, we didn’t, since it is dangerous and illegal. Anyway, it was pretty crowded in this part of the park, and we held the kids close as there are some spots without a railing. We took some great pics, and some people from other countries took pics with our kids since they had light hair and blue eyes. We and the kids thought it was pretty funny that they wanted pics with our kids at the Grand Canyon. Tyler stated with these first views of the Grand Canyon that “It has to be one of the best places in the world”. It is one of the 7 wonders after all, and after seeing this beautiful and colorful canyon stretch on for miles and miles, we can see why. For our last stop on this first day, we boarded a shuttle and headed to the nearby Yavapai Geological Museum, where there was great info about the rocks in the park, and wonderful views from the museum area.
On our 2nd day, we took a 2.5 mile round trip hike down into the canyon on South Kaibab Trail to Ooh Aah Point which offered beautiful 360 views like we hadn’t yet seen. It was a great hike, though the uphill part was slightly challenging. We then headed to Yavapai Lodge to have lunch, and checked out the Market in the Village, which had a lot of nice souvenirs and groceries too. Later in the day, we headed back to the Village area to get ready for the sunset. We went into the Kolb Studio, another wonderful place for views, with a small gift shop and museum about the Kolb brothers who had owned the studio. Right next to the studio, we went on a walk about 0.5 mile on the end/beginning of the Bright Angel Trailhead, where many people who had hiked all day, or for days from Rim to Rim were coming up to the end of the trail. There was a small arch carved in the mountain for the trail to travel through. We checked out the to Hopi Lookout, which we had to take a shuttle to get up to as cars aren’t able to drive to the Hermit’s Rest stops. After that, we went to a ranger program about the Constellations and night sky in the Grand Canyon. We then headed back home, to our RV nearby in the National Forest, after our adventure filled day.
On our 3rd day in the park, we headed to an unmarked trail to check out Shoshone Point, which we had heard about from friends. It was about a mile walk through the trees with no other views, past a picnic area, out to an amazing viewpoint at Shoshone Point. We loved it here, though it was a little more dangerous to get to and no railings, so we didn’t stay too long. We then headed to the Tusayan Museum and ruins, and then onto the Desert View Watchtower. It is a 25 mile drive from the Visitors Center to the Desert View Watchtower, which we weren’t totally expecting, but it was worth the drive! There is a small ice cream shop, gift shop, grocery store, and snack bar at the watchtower. We got some really good ice cream at the snack bar area, and walked out to see the views from the watchtower. It was another beautiful stop near the east end of the canyon with sweeping views to the north and west. It was a lot of fun to climb up the many levels of the watchtower and look out all of the windows for more awe inspiring views. We took a break back home in the RV, then headed back to the Village area where we ate a mediocre meal with a nice view of the top of the canyon. There is also a soda and ice cream fountain, and more restaurants right here in the village on the rim of the canyon. We explored The Lookout Studio, the cool Hopi House, and El Tovan Hotel at this spot. I also really liked the Verkamp’s Visitors Center here as it had an interesting museum and was nicely put together. We saw more elk and deer here and throughout our entire trip the elk were spotted often. We watched the sunset here on our last night in the canyon and headed home with a bit of sadness that we would be leaving the Grand Canyon area in the morning.
For our trip north heading to Page, we had to pass through the Grand Canyon for the last time, this time driving Irvin the RV through to get a grander look at the canyon. It was fun to see it from higher out our big front window heading west on 64. We were passing the watchtower again on our way out of the East Entrance to the park, so we stopped again to get the kids Jr Ranger badges before we left.
As we drove through the Canyon on the way out, we realized we had grown to love this place over this weekend! We sure do hope to get back there soon, and hope to catch a glimpse of the North Rim in about a week when we are a little closer to it!
Have you been to the Grand Canyon before? Let us know what your favorite part about your visit was!