June 14 – 16
The drive to the Grand Canyon was about 2 hours through the most desolate looking desert I’ve ever seen. There was nothing upon nothing for miles and miles. Having never been to the southwest I was really enjoying the scenery and trying to figure how people live in the middle of the dry, hot desert.
We rolled in around 10:30am and the park was already super busy. Our first stop was the Deser View viewpoint and watchtower for our first look at the Grand Canyon. Despite the mass of people, out first look was spectacular. The canyon is bigger and even more grand than I imagined. It definitely took my breath away. After taking lots of pictures at the viewpoint we climbed the stairs to the top of the watchtower which gave you an awesome view of the canyon, the desert and the Colorado river all the way at the bottom at of the canyon.
We spent a little more time wondering along the rim taking pictures and taking in the view, then headed out to see if we could find a place to camp for the next two nights. We had originally planned to camp on BLM land outside the park again, but the viewpoint is right next to the Desert View campground so we decided to check it out in the hopes we could find a spot. The campground is first come, first serve and we had heard that there are rarely spots available. We got there right after checkout though and lucked into the best spot in the campground. As we pulled in the camp host was going around cleaning up vacant spots and told us to check out a couple spots that he thought were open. The spot we nabbed had lots of shade and was only a few hundred yards from the rim of the canyon. Nice! And was only $12/night! Yay!
We paid/registered for our spot then headed out to hike the Grandview Trail. The trail is a few miles long in total, but we were only doing 2 miles – 1 mile down into the canyon, then 1 mile back up. All the hikes in the canyon are down, then back up so there are signs everyone saying “remember: what goes down, must come back up!” and other stuff about bringing food and water. This hike was pretty steep and after only a few hundred yards down I was already worried about coming back up. Also, the Grand Canyon is not a great place for people with a fear of heights, at least if you plan on hiking. You’re basically going down a cliff and there are some seriously dizzying drop offs. Huntar and I both got a little lightheaded a few times and had to have Ethan help us. Yikes!
After hiking for an hour down, we took a break for a snack and some pictures then headed back up. The way back up was hard, but it only ended up taking us an hour which was super surprising given how many breaks I took.
Back at the top we made lunch in the car and headed farther into the park to check out the visitors center and the Rim Trail. There were a gazillion people and the visitors center reminded me of a theme park. There are shuttles and water stations and picnic areas. It was a zoo. The Rim Trail is a paved path that follows the rim down to the museum and I think even farther than that. We stopped at the museum which was also super crowded. The views did not disappoint though and Ethan took every opportunity to hop out on some terrifying cliff to get a picture. He’s either brave or stupid – or maybe both?
On our second day we got up early so we could get to our first hike fore it got too hot and crowded. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had this idea and it was already super busy. The Bright Angel trail is a popular one and we ran into lots of people who were hiking out of the canyon either coming from the North Rim or they had taken the trail down spent the night and were coming back up. It was already pretty hot at 9am and we were glad we didn’t have a bunch of crap to carry. Since the trail keeps going all the way down into the canyon you just decide where you want to stop and turn back around. We made it 2 miles down and decided to turn back. The way back up was grueling and I got passed by a lot of people who were clearly in better shape. Woof. The trail was gorgeous though and gave you some awesome views of the canyon and the many ravines and valleys you can’t see from above.
After recovering from hike one, we found a picnic area where we napped on a picnic table, then walked to our second hike from there. The second hike took us 1 mile down and to another spectacular viewpoint aptly named Ooh Aah Point. It was lovely but it was also 90° and we were ready to be done for the day. Other than the views the best pro of the hike was the breeze coming up from the canyon. Felt like heaven when you were in the shade. Ahhh.
We headed back to our campsite after grabbing some snacks and drinks at the General Store. The Grand Canyon was pretty amazing and we were all super stoked to have checked off a major bucket list place. Yay! Onwards to Zion National Park!