South Rim, Grand Canyon
In a rainy day, the guide spent almost all day announcing the wonders of the sunset in the Grand Canyon. I thought it was just "guider's conversation" but, at the right moment (American efficiency) the clouds opened a small frame and... well... even the rainbow adhered to the party.
Do not miss, and good luck.
Most visitors to the park coming from las vegas come to the South Rim, arriving on Arizona Highway 64. The Highway enters the park through the South Entrance, near Tusayan, Arizona, and heads eastward, leaving the park through the East Entrance. Park headquarters are at Grand Canyon Village, a short distance from the South Entrance, being also the center of the most popular viewpoints like Yavapai Point, and the Village Architectures like Bucky O'Neill Cabin, El Tovar Hotel, Kolb Studio, Hopi Indian House and Bright Angel Lodge. The village is the Jump-Off point for many activities like whitewater rafting, hiking and Running. The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials because of the distance, steep and rocky trails, change in elevation, and danger of heat exhaustion from the much higher temperatures at the bottom
Grand Canyon Village is an essential stop on the South Rim side of the canyon. It is the main base from which one can explore the rim east-west or embark on treks across the canyon to the North Rim. It also has a cluster of accommodation facilities within walking distance from the rim plus all the catering from restaurants to grocery stores and souvenir outlets. Most importantly this is the place where one has to reach in order to have any access to the western part of the canyon park. It is accessible only by park authority bus, free of charge. The catch is that the busses are not that frequent and might prove waste of time. Moreover, the only time that one might want to be on the western side is at sunset, hense if pressed this is the time to use the bus. Unfortunately everybody else does the same thing so it is a mad house - around Easter anyway.
Most visitors to the park come to the South Rim, arriving on Arizona Highway 64. The Highway enters the park through the South Entrance, near Tusayan, Arizona, and heads eastward, leaving the park through the East Entrance. Park headquarters are at Grand Canyon Village, a short distance from the South Entrance, being also the center of the most popular viewpoints like Yavapai Point, and the Village Architectures like Bucky O'Neill Cabin, El Tovar Hotel, Kolb Studio, Hopi Indian House and Bright Angel Lodge. The village is the Jump-Off point for many activities like whitewater rafting, hiking and Running. The floor of the valley is accessible by foot, muleback, or by boat or raft from upriver. Hiking down to the river and back up to the rim in one day is discouraged by park officials because of the distance, steep and rocky trails, change in elevation, and danger of heat exhaustion from the much higher temperatures at the bottom
In the afternoon we managed to catch a rangers talk about the California Condors, which live in the area.
Their story could have been one of extinction, as in the 1980s only 22 California Condors remained. These were trapped and a captive program began. This was a success and by the late 1990s captive-reared condors were released back into the wild in California and northern Arizona.
Over the years pairs formed and nesting attempted. In 2003 a wild -born condor fledged from a cave in Grnd Canyon - the first fledgling in Arizona in more than a century.
The California condor population now stands at around 360 birds, with 180 in the wild, with more than 70 condors soaring in the skies of northern Arizona and southern Utah.
The rangers talks that we went on were always good fun and are free. The rangers are usually very interesting people who have a wealth of experience and will give you great tips about how to get the best out of your trip to the area.
So, you're in Las Vegas on vacation and you're considering a side trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Good choice. Of all the "Rims," it's the South one that's got all the world-famous views.
How to get there if you're on a budget? By tour bus, of course.
Prices at the time this article was written ranged from $80 to $160. Book online - the best deals are on the Internet. For more information about pricing, please see link at bottom of article.
These are not the motor coaches of yore, either. They are state-of-the-art vehicles, and they come equipped with the following:
* Deluxe, reclining seats
* Maximum legroom
* Removable arm rests
* Climate control (air conditioning and heat)
* Large custom windows
Most bus tours, which hit the road around 7 a.m., include free hotel pick up and drop off, as well as a complimentary box lunch (we've tried them all and they're quite tasty).
The drive to the South Rim includes such sights as Lake Mead, historic Hoover Dam (there will be a brief stop for photos), the Colorado River, and Black Canyon, exclusive habitat or big horn sheep.
The entrance to Grand Canyon National Park features quite a dramatic change in scenery: You'll be up on the Kaibab Plateau, home of the largest stand of Ponderosa Pine in the world.
Your adventure begins at Bright Angel Lodge, the main structure in historic Grand Canyon village. The Lodge, built in the 1930's, is surrounded by restaurants, a museum, other lodgings, gift shops, and the Bucky O'Neill Cabin, the oldest structure on the Rim. It's also here that you can board one of the many free shuttles and discover such key viewpoints as Mather Point, Yavapai Point, Yaki, and more. Typically, you will have three hours to enjoy the South Rim and The Village.
Here are some facts to consider as you enjoy this incredible natural wonder:
* The Canyon was created by the Colorado River over a 5.4 million-year period.
* The Canyon is 277 miles long and ranges in width from four to 18 miles
* It's more than a mile deep.
* At 8,200 feet (2,500 m) above sea level, the North Rim is 1,200 feet (350 m) higher than the South Rim.
* It became a National Park in 1919
* 5 Million visitors annually
* It's populated by five Indian tribes
The return trip to Las Vegas usually includes a break in Kingman, AZ, where you can stretch your legs, grab a snack, or smoke (coaches are smoke-free). You'll then head back over Hoover Dam, skirt by Boulder City, and then drop down into the Las Vegas valley.
Total trip time from pick up to drop off is approximately 14 hours.
If you've longed to experience the magnificence of the South Rim, consider booking a trip with one of Las Vegas' many tour bus operators. Tours run daily, seven days a week. The price is right, too, if you shop and book on the Internet. There's no excuse to leave this Seventh Wonder of the World on your "bucket list" anymore. For more bus tour reviews and pricing, please go to http://www.GrandCanyonBusDeals.com
Hopi House was built in 1905 by Mary Colter. This Pueblo style building is the largest gift store at the Grand Canyon. This historic store features a large selection of authentic Native American Handicraft items and an upstairs Native American Art Gallery. On the list of U.S. National Register of Historic Places and U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Open daily year-round, 8am to 5pm, additional open hours vary seasonally.
For more information:
Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce
or the National Park Service web page.
The National Park Service collects a $25 per vehicle entrance fee that is good for seven days on both the South and North Rims.
We were driving from Flagstaff and arrived in the Grand Canyon area a little after 1. Eat BEFORE you get close to the area as the mcdonalds is not your typical Mcdonalds. I got a double Cheeseburger and a coke (Normally this is $2 at all other mcdonalds at least on the east coast it is) I paid over $7 for these 2 items!!! Anyway after eating we went to the South Rim, parked and found the shuttle system VERY easy to use. each bus is color coded with the stops and they run about every 10-15 minutes. You can hop off/on at your own Leisure.
We used the shuttle most of the time but hiked between the shorter points. I had heard that Hermit's rest was the most scenic. I personally did not agree and it was a tourist trap. If you want more souvenirs then this stop is for you. Each point does offer a slightly different view. We had the luxury of being there to see the sunset, while beautiful it wasn't as colorful as I had imagined it would be. If I am not mistaken Powell Point was my favorite. I think we paid about $20 for our car. The shuttles are included in your price. While we were there someone fell over the edge around Maricopa. So PLEASE be careful :)
Yes, Highway 64 is OK for a motor coach. You should be able to park it near the train station in Grand Canyon Village--which puts you close to the rim and in the heart of things. Lunch at El Tovar Hotel is outstanding. I would have the group picnic at Grandview Point on the way in--should be able to park the bus, lots of room, great views, but seniors would probably have to sit on large rocks to eat. For more info on Grand Canyon, download or print my free quarterly Pathfinder Newsletter at http://www.traveltheamericanwest.com. Can I help you with info about Page? Don't miss Lower Antelope Canyon there! My next newsletter issue is "The Wonders of Page, AZ." Should be on the website December 1. Would be happy to mail or email a draft.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Hans and I last visited Grand Canyon thirteen years ago, in 1996, when we did a road trip with Hans' sister Nel and husband Jean.
We made a return visit to GRAND CANYON on our "Road Trip 2009".
Starting out from our motel in Flagstaff, we made our way along the Hwy 180 and then on to Hwy 64 and the south entrance station. We paid our $25.00 US entry fee (good for seven days). Our receipt recorded us as arriving at 9:54 a.m.
First stop was the "Grand Canyon Visitor Center" which is also the location of the IMAX Theater ($12.00 US admittance fee).
Our first stop was Mather Point (7120 feet elevation). We backtracked a bit west to Yavapai Point and then continued on Desert View Drive to Grandview Point.
As it was now past 1:30 p.m. and we were getting hungry, it was lunch time. We looked for a Picnic Area and found a lovely spot with a table sitting in the bright sunshine. It was such a quiet and peaceful spot. The only sound you heard was the soft wind blowing through the trees. Not even sight or sound of any little critters scurrying about. I thought I would at least see a squirrel or little chipmunks.
After our Picnic lunch, we headed for Moran Point (7160 feet elevation) which in my opinion is the most beautiful view, with the sight of the mighty Colorado River winding its way through the Canyon below.
Next was Lipan Point (7360 feet elevation) and finally Desert View (7438 feet elevation). We finished our day at about 6:00 p.m. A full day indeed and such a wonderful experience.
The South Rim is the most famous part of the Grand Canyon, and the busiest too. It is the place you may have seen already in National Geographic.
When you enter the park you get a free copy of the park Guide, with a lot of informations, announcements about activities.
Mather Point is the most popular viewpoint on the South Rim as it is closest to the entrance. The majority of visitors including me first gaze over the Grand Canyon here, although other lookout point have probably better views for photos.
The South Rim averages more then 2100 metres above sea level. The Colorado River flows along the bottom of the canyon, about 1500 metres below the rim. Because of the enormous depth of the Canyon, the river is visible only from certain viewpoints.
At the famous Bright Angel Lodge you can shop, take pictures, and stroll the walkways to gaze out at the colorful sites. Across the horizon, you may see the painted peak of Isis Temple and the neighboring flat-topped formation known as Cheops Pyramid. Looking east, the Clear Creek becomes visible, which has formed a deep, private canyon towards the Walhalla Plateau.
The Grand Canyon, one of the wonders of the world, has been created by Colorado River cutting through rock for two billion years. The canyon is 446 km long, from 6 to 24 kilometers wide and more than a mile deep.
Alot of the formations of the Grand Canyon have Egyptian names, such as Cheops Pyramid, Isis Temple, Tower of Set, Tower of Ra, Horus Temple, etc. Some of the names are of East Indian gods, such as Buddha Cloister, Vishnu Temple or Brahma Temple; there is a Zoroaster Temple, which is Persian.
Park Entrance Fee $12 valid for seven days.
There is a lot of history assiciated with El Tovar. El Tovar Hotel, the premier lodging facility at the Grand Canyon, opened its doors in 1905 and was most recently renovated in 2005.
In the past, the Hotel has hosted such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, and many others.
I liked (and the kids would too) the stuffed animals on the walls. You would be able to see a wild boar and other interesting animals.
It's worth a quick stop!
We just got back from a trip that started at the Grand Canyon. There will be many places where you can get unobstructed views of the canyon -- it is HUGE (after all, it IS called the "Grand" Canyon) and there are many well maintained viewing spots and accessible trails which cover long distances.
While most people head straight for the South Entrance of the Grand Canyon, from Flagstaff you can take US 89 to Arizona 64 to reach the EAST entrance of the park. Desert View is the first official "vantage point" and the views are extraordinary. For the next 25 miles, you can drive and stop at several viewing spots such as Navaho Point, and Lipan Point (where you get great views of the Colorado River). You park your car and head down the paths to the vantage points. Having taken advantage of seeing some of these places, continue on this drive until you reach "Grand Canyon Village" where there are multiple parking lots. This is where you'll find some of the crowds - but you can see what the in-the-park lodges are like, and pick up general park information either at the Info Center or in the lobby of Bright Angel or El Tovar Lodges.
If you've packed a picnic lunch, you might want to catch one of the shuttle buses to Maricopa Point or Powell Point if you want a longer trek, and hike the rim trail back to the village, stopping to picnic along the way. (There aren't tables or clearly marked spots, but it's not hard to find some shaded rocks or felled trees just off the path. Obviously you will need to haul your trash out with you to be disposed of in the containers that are easy to spot at each "viewing" area. ) Even if you don't take a lunch, be sure to CARRY WATER, and drink it! You get dehydrated easily at high altitudes!
I'm sure there will be more people there in July than we saw in April, but don't worry. You won't be stuck "in a crowd" at very many places.
Take the shuttle bus and do the Hermits Rest Route (at a minimum). Stop by all the points, admire the canyon and its incredible colors. My favorite stop is Lipan Point (the eastern side). The canyon will mesmerize you and you will agree that the pictures do not do justice! Its beauty is hard to capture on photos. We all try to do it, of course, but the canyon does not want to reveal its entire beauty in the pictures. You have to be there to experience it first hand.
Bright Angel Trail is a typical trail; but you yourself choose how hard it is. The most daring may go down to the river or if you just want to be one of the 5% of the visitors that go below the rim you can take a walk to the archway. On the way down on the left are some petroglyphs. You are mostly in the shade so it is not too hot. If you are a hiker this is a pretty good trail, just make sure to bring lots of water. Even if you are not that much of a hiker you can just take a small walk down to be one of the few who stand under the rim.