Observation Points, Grand Canyon
Driving along Desert View Drive, we didn't have to fight the crowds on the special sunset shuttles. We went to watch the sunset but didn't hit it lucky for a great one. And it was COLD at night! Bring a heavy jacket if you go watch the sunset.
It takes about 20 minutes to drive here from the park entrance.
I am amazed that the Grand Canyon can possess so many different looks!
I recommend stopping off at the various observation points. I did that a long time ago and I forgot how cool and unique the different vews are. I drove from Desert View to the Village and stopped at every observation point. I am happy I did that.
Remember you can take the free shuttle west to Hermit's Rest for more views too!
Fondest memory: Hiking with my son to the bottom and staying over night at the Phantom Ranch.
Favorite thing: i know that your aren't supposed to venture off the track but our tour guide (not one from the national parks) took us to a ledge on the south rim which was just off the main track around the rim, it was a little difficult and dangerous to get to - however once there it was just perfect it really felt like we had the whole canyon to ourselves. we went there twice, once during the day and the second time for sunrise - it made it extra special being on ledge though getting down to it in the dark was a little challenging!
Favorite thing: We visited on a tour and our leader took us off the track around the rim to a ledge that stuck out, it was perfect we were the only people there at sunrise and when we went during the day, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. I know you arent supposed to leave the trail and understand why, but it was well worth it.
"And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Fondest memory: During the last mile of our journey, Jim and I stopped in front of an old Douglas Fir which Jim named Doug. Jim explained that its his ritual to stop and sit in front of Doug at the end of every trip past this part of the Canyon. For Jim, this was his way of saying thanks. "He's my link to the Big Guy upstairs," Jim explained.
We sat there for quite a while. I didn't have anywhere to go and preferred to savor these last moments of our time in the Canyon. And Jim had a lot to say to Doug.
Jim's been doing this for 26 years. He's 49 and has had his share of health problems. A couple of weeks ago, he was evacuated by helicopter from the Canyon due to hyponutremia. He took it pretty hard. Jim is under doctors orders not to hike alone in the Canyon. That's why Dan is on this trip as well.
At one point, Jim gazed out over the Canyon he considers home and wondered aloud, "how many more times will I be able to do this?" 26 years of hiking the Canyon has taken its toll on him. Yet he loves it. That's why he keeps coming back here for as long as he can.
At times, I wondered if Jim was saying goodbye to the Canyon itself. Maybe he always does that, but this seemed different. I could sense Jim's frustration with being slowed down by an illness a few weeks before. I could also detect a sense of fear and profound sadness as Jim said goodbye to something he loved so much.
You don't know if its fear or desire
Danger's a drug that taken you higher
Heaven, heaven, tenderness in the mire....
U2 So Cruel
Fondest memory: 6:30 p.m. Dark and chilly but not freezing. We finished dinner and Jim went off to call home on the satellite phone. Dan is cleaning up camp. They keep insisting that I don't help, but it would give me something to do. Lots of people milling about in adjacent campsites.
I 'm always more lonely in the wrong company than when truly solo. Not that Jim and Dan aren't nice guys. They are. But they're here to do a job and not be my buddies. I feel a bit isolated out here. Miss home or at least someone to share this with. Trying not to think in that direction, but as darkness creeps in, the witching hour lurks in its shadows.
One thing I learned over the past couple of days is not to give up when things go wrong. I used to think that a string of bad events meant that my luck had turned sour. But now I think it means you just have to fight a bit harder.
It took a lot of work to get on track on this trip. Started to think I should just go home. But something inside me said, fight harder. Never Die Easy. Its like a grueling workout or a long uphill hike where you're making that final push or struggling through the last mile.
Life's like that. My relationship with the unmentionable one didn't just break my heart. It destroyed my spirit and my trust. Made me so angry it scared me. But that was quitting.
Yesterday, Jim showed me a cactus growing on the black bridge, dangling precipitously over the edge of its steel rungs. He laughed and said it just goes to show that you can do anything if you don't quit trying. I quit trying. I quit on myself and I'm ashamed of that. But now I know what I have to do. Keep fighing because I know its out there.
The hour grows late. It's almost 7:30 after all. I'm a long way from that first solo trip. Hell, I'm a long way from everything. But I'm a lot closer to living my dreams. Guess its not such a lonely night after all.
The more famous points to view the canyon are in this area at Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station. A free Grand Canyon newspaper, The Guide, for visitors can be found at the Visitor's Center
Fondest memory: Mather Point:
This point was named after the first National Park Service Director, Stephen T. Mather. From here you can see Phantom Ranch.
If you're visiting the South Rim, you will find many lookout points with great views of the canyon. One very popular point is Mather Point. A parking lot with limited parking is available. As soon as you find a spot, go on over to the lookout area and have your first grand view of the Grand Canyon. Mather Point has a memorial of the person who first discovered that place as well as some posters about the canyon (how it was made, layers, etc.). Railing is placed so that you will not fall. For the best view, go when there are no clouds and when the sun is either rising or setting.
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of the Grand Canyon was when I saw the many, many stars in the night sky while I was in the Mather Campground - Juniper Loop - Site 143.
Favorite thing: There are so many different vantage points but to be honest, it is beautiful no matter where you end up! The only thing you really need to do it walk around, try to take it all in, sit and relax for awhile if you'd like. I found it quite peaceful even with all the other touists around! I know you can take some sort of hike but I have not done that.
You have to get out of your car and stand on the Rim where there is no fence. It's abosolutely breathtaking!
Fondest memory: Sneaking through the woods along side the vehicle road and coming onto a clearing and woops!! there's the biggest hole in the world. I felt like Lewis or Clark for a split second!!
Braving the cold long enough to reach the rim, take a photo and head back to the hotel.
Fondest memory: A visit here 40+ years ago was fantastic in the summer.
Fondest memory: It wa carefully designed with native stone and irregular roofline to blend into the rim of the Grand Canyon. Here Visitors could watch mule riders decending into the Canyon.
Fondest memory: The views of the canyon from all different vantage points are just spectacular. Again, I just say wow!