your first stop on a grand canyon tour will be at the Grand Canyon Visitor's Point in the south rim at Maher Point where there are several displays and memorabilia of grand canyon artifacts like wagons, horse carriage and more, plus assorted dining and souvenir shops and then you can go around the Maher Point Lookout outside for the stunning views of the south rim of the grand canyon.
the Visitor Center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
We booked our Helicopter flight through the Qantas activities page which was offering a discounted price at the time. It was a flight that included Imperial Point (north rim). From our hotel (Bright Angel) we had to make our own way to the airport. The shuttle buses do not go to the airport so you need to book a taxi from your accommodation. There are a number of different companies that offer helicopter flights over the Grand Canyon and it seemed as if you could just turn up and organise a flight on the day-probably because it was low season. Our flight was booked with Papillion Helicopters and was the Imperial Air Tour. Apart from a couple of rather surly attendants check in was very efficient. Imagine our surprise when we found that we had our own personal helicopter!!!! The flight was brilliant. Our pilot was excellent and the addition of music was both comforting and it seemed appropriate. Going over the rim to the sound of "Ride of the Valkries" made it seem all that more exciting and exhilarating. The flight lasted about an hour.
Just before you take off someone takes a photo of you and the pilot in front of the helicopter. They then produce a mock up photo of you with various images of the Grand Canyon behind the helicopter. You can purchase this and a digital image for $30.
Cost: A$ 470.99
We stayed at the Bright Angel Hotel. It was rustic, friendly and warm. There are a number of rooms available some with views. We originally booked a room without a view and then changed to one that had a view of the canyon (for an extra price). To tell you the truth the rooms with a view was just a window view. If it had had a balcony that you could sit at it would have been magnificent. The room was comfortable, television, adequate bathroom and toilet and one of those coffee pod machines (that you did not pay for extra!!). The staff were friendly and there is a restaurant and shop attached to the lodge. The hotel also provides information on shuttle buses and sunrise, sunset times. We booked the hotel directly from its website.
We booked our transport (bus) into the canyon through the Qantas actvities page which offered discounted prices. Because a quota was not reached the company upgraded us to fly in and out. It was fantastic. Vision Air flights(the company) appeared to be very professional and quite a large operation. The planes, Deniers consist of about 20 seats with an aisle between each seat so everyone gets a window seat so it is the luck of the draw as to whether you get a window that is clean and which side you get. The check in operator weighs you with your hand luggage and then they assign you a seat. If you weigh a lot you are more likely to be assigned to the back. When you get in there is an audio you can listen to. You need to change the channel number to access your language and a volume number. They are not good giving this instruction.
On the way to GC sit on the left hand side if you want to see Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Also, if you are tall make sure you bend as you get into and out of the plane - the cabins are not very high.
We booked our tour on the activities page on the Qantas site. The transport into the Grand Canyon was originally booked with Vision Air and was a bus tour into and out of the canyon. We thought this might be a good way to see the country. We had no idea it would be a 5 hour trip there and then 5 hours back!!! Luckily for us the company did not get the required quota of passengers and so they upgraded us to a flight there and back. We planned to spend the night in the canyon and stayed at the Bright Angel Hotel. This turned out to be one of the best decisions we made and we were able to see a sunset over the canyon and walk along one of the rim trails. We were also able to organise a helicopter flight to the north rim which was spectacular. The flights over were a bonus and as the weather was also brilliant sunny blue skies we were able to see quite clearly Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.
Take a picture with a Native American near the edge or with the Hualapai dancers.
Members of the Hualapai tribe are very hospitable and aways ready to answer any question you may have about the area etc.
Do not forget to say"Gamyu", that is the traditional greeting of the Hualapai. And remember that the Hualapai economy is based completely on tourism. Small gratitude is required.
Sweat Lodges were used for spiritual purposes as well as places of healing for men and women.
Used fo ceremonial purposes the Sweat Lodge accommodated 4 to 6 people and was used for cleanse the mind, body and spirit. Small stones were hited on the fire and placed in the middle on the mud hut. Water was then poured over the rocks to create steam. While in the Sweat Lodge, participants pray to the Creator.
A Hualapai Wikiup is comprised of a Juniper trunk curved downward to provade the frame. The Hualapai used readily available resourses such as earth and brush to create the walls while the flooring was lined wuth animal skins.
Wikiups were often constructed in a larger capacity to accomodate intire familes.
Hoover Dam is a multipurpose reclamation project on the Colorado River, on the border between Arizona and Nevada. It was completed in 1935. This structure is amazing.
We had a photo stop at Hoover Dam, and it was a wonderful sight. It does not matter, which one Rim - South Rim or West Rim - of the Grand Canyon you are going to see, tour bus will still pass the Hoover Dam.
If you require an in-depth visit, tours are available and worth doing: you can buy a tour of the visitors center, a tour of the power plant including the visitor center, or the entire tour including everything.
Descending to the river is hard, taking time (and money or... risks). Most people follow the rim using the several marked and protected points to a view over the wide scenery.
One interesting detail is to use the frequent changes in the weather to appreciate the game of colours: the bright contrasts of the different chemical layers, giving place to the dramatic softness of the shady slopes. And with luck, a surprising scene may be captured - see Sunset under the rain or The Power of Nature
The excellent NPS website has a TON of great information for planning a trip to the canyon but, judging from the amount of questions I see on the forums about the park, a lot of folks either aren't taking a look, or have trouble finding their way around it.
That said, I thought I'd make it easy by providing a few key links to getting started.
Click on this to go directly to the best page on the website for downloading seasonal newspapers in 8 different languages, guides, maps, info on permits, tours, weather etc. The park newspapers and guides cover ranger walks and talks available during specific seasons and are updated regularly: great to have before you go. There is also a link to a terrific, downloadable planner that encapsulates all the general info you need to know.
Additionally, you can plug your dates into the schedule of events calendar.
Knowing where the visitor centers are and the scope of services they provide is nice too.
My photo above is of the patio at the North Rim lodge. The rangers give a fair amount of informative talks from this venue and it's THE place to hang out with a beverage (like a cold beer from the bar) after a long hike. Very nice any time of day as the view is amazing but it's particularly great for star-gazing beside a roaring fire at night: definitely a "thing to do"!
Gotta put in a plug here for the men and women of the NPS, though. We've come into contact with a lot of rangers in the parks and they're the best resources you can find for what/where/how to have a good time.
These folks are the caretakers of our most valuable natural treasures and the multitudes who come to enjoy them. When you run across one on a trail, they'll be making mental notes of how much water you have, if your footwear is going to get you into trouble, and generally what kind of shape you're in. These are also the folks that have to come and get you if you break a leg, collapse from heat exhaustion or fall over an edge. It's good to keep in mind that anytime you decide to risk your neck doing something careless, you're risking theirs as well?
Getting the skinny from the rangers at NPS visitor centers is the very first thing we do. They love to be asked about "their" park and are full of great ideas for activities that match your specific skill levels. They're also regularly re-assigned to different parks and often have but a few short weeks to learn enough about the flora, fauna, geology and history of that location to be able to give those great, free campfire talks and tours.
So be nice to them - they're pretty amazing people.
My buddy and I rented bicycles the day after our day hike to Phantom Ranch and back up. This rental facility is new for 2010 and a much needed one. The owners are very helpful describing where to go and what to do and how to make your day more enjoyable. They recommended to ride out to Hermit's Rest (mostly downhill) and put the bikes on the bus for most of the uphill trek back. This service is fantastic as you can stop at the overlooks when you please and as long as you like. It may be the best possible way to experience the South Rim! You can ride out to Hermit's Rest where only park buses allowed and view the Canyon along the Rim Trail....FANTASTIC! The bikes performed very well, comfortable and fit my 6'2" frame. I highly recommend renting these bikes and seeing the GC from a different perspective.
It's not easy to get there, it's not advised to drive when wet and the cars should have high ground clearance also when dry, especcialy last miles.
Better have also a good map and/or GPS, have plenty of water with you and fill the tank before you go. In case you need to stop for some reasons, it might take a long before someone pass by and you might need to keep the engine on to be cool or warm.
Always keep a slow speed and also beware at the cattle guards...
Make sure you have also a spare tire and all the tools needed to change a tyre, I had a flat tyre :(
last pic shows how is the road at end.
the cliff is nearly vertical, dropping almost straight down some 3,000 feet to the Colorado River.
To get there I drove BLM Road #109, which is the easiest route to Toroweap. It leaves Hwy 389 about seven miles west of Fredonia, there are 61 miles from the highway to the viewpoint. The way back I drove the Clayhole Route (BLM Road #5) which leaves Hwy 389 at Colorado City, I liked more beside it's along this road I had to change the tyre.
it could take also 2-3 hours to drive from the highway to the overlook or back.
If you have my luck (visiting the Grand Canyon under deeply different weather conditions) you will have the chance to feel how strong the natural elements are.
Not only the carving of the canyon evidences the mighty power of water and wind, but the behaviour of nature may provide a live performance of some of its strong power. Dramatic shadows, thunders, bright colours, compose a kaleidoscope hard to forget.
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