Road Trip: Grand Canyon National Park

This post is part of  our 26-day road trip from Wisconsin to California.

Grand Canyon is such a famous park that I feel I don’t really need to talk much about it.  The moment you see the grand canyon, you cannot help admiring the grand scale of the canyon. The canyon changes its look when you see it at different times of the day, from different spots, and under different weather conditions. No matter how you see it, it is just stunningly beautiful.

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When it is sunny

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Colorado River

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When it is cloudy

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When it is foggy

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foggy again

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When it is raining

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How did it grow so tall?

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Big Cliff

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Turkey Vultures or Hawks or just a couple Ravens? I was hoping to see condors.

Hiking, Hiking, and Hiking

 

The hiking trails in Grand Canyon are quite straight forward, you either hike along the rim, or hike down towards the river.  We hiked down 3.2 miles to the River Rest house point along the Bright Angel Trail. It was foggy in the beginning,  became sunny, and then pouring rain!  We were silly enough not to put raincoats on  earlier util it got  too late to make a difference.  Fortunately, as long as we kept moving, being soaking wet was not that intolerable.

Our biggest regret is that we couldn’t hike all the way down to the bottom since it requires camping at the bottom overnight. So, one more item to add to our bucket list: backpacking from the south rim to the north rim, and water rafting along the Colorado river going through Grand Canyon.

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Bright Angel Trail

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Bright Angel Trail

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Bright Angel Trail

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It says everyday there are several people bitten by squirrels in the grand canyon. Seriously?

The trail along the rim ( Rim Trail) is much easier. There is a bus stop almost every half mile along the rim, so you can choose to hike whatever distance you feel comfortable and ride back. The whole time we hiked along the rim, the weather changed minute by minute, from foggy to sunny to raining and back to sunny again, which certainly made the hiking more interesting.

Camping : Please, Stop Raining

 

We camped for three nights at the Mather Campground right by Grand Canyon Village. The campground is very nice and spacious, however, it rained every single night! Luckily,  the park has the best general store. I have never seen a general store in a national park that provides such a wide variety of options for both groceries and daily items. Seriously, it even sells paint brushes and tray ( although I don’t know why). The whole roasted chicken we got there might have been the best chicken I have ever had (though we were starving and had hiked for hours that day)!

Finally, the last night, it looked like the rain had finally stopped.  We decided to have a fire ( having a camp fire is the absolutely the No.1 reason that I always prefer camping over a hotel) . Although most of the wood was quite wet from days of raining,  we still managed to get it burning after quite a bit of work. I was so thrilled and ready to make dinner, when the rain came on quite harshly and unexpectedly.  I just couldn’t give up on my fire and insisted to protect it with an umbrella.  After five minutes of standing there and not seeing any sign of the rain stopping, I felt like a fool and gave up.

It rained about 30 minutes, and all our neighbors gave up and drove out for food.  Guess what? Our fire somehow magically survived the rain and was burning happily!!! It would be so wrong if we didn’t cook anything, so we did.  We grilled steak over the fire and had one of the best meals in our whole trip!

Grand Canyon Have the Best Park Service

I feel I am obligated to praise the people who are in charge of managing Grand Canyon National Park because they are just so much better compared to other parks. It has the best bulletins posted right outside the visitor center, telling you everything you need to know to get around the park and nearby attractions; a general store that has everything you could possibly need; free wifi in stores, visitor center, and Laundry place ( seriously, they are so considerate to provide wifi there), Shuttle service with convenient schedule and routes, nice and spacious campground,  tons of restaurants …   Best of all, it emphasizes recycling, composting, and green energy wherever you look.

Oh, Almost Forgot, the Grand Canyon Skywalk

Grand Canyon Skywalk is a 5-hour drive from the Grand Canyon Village. Before we went there, I was all excited, thinking that I can walk on the transparent skywalk right at the edge of the canyon. How cool would that be! While we were having lunch half way there, luckily or unluckily, I did some research and realized two things: first, cameras are not allowed on the skywalk; second, you cannot just buy tickets to the skywalk, instead, you need to buy a package.  The description about the Grand Canyon West, where Skywalk is located, appeared so commercial that it just killed all my enthusiasm instantly.  No camera? You must be kidding me!    Let’s just go to Las Vegas instead… There we went, next stop: Vegas and Death Valley.

 

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