Grand Canyon National Park Arizona
Donkey rides on the valley floor, white water rafting, abseiling – there are many adventurous things you can do in the Grand Canyon.
And trust me, I wanted to do all of these things.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of the best laid travel plans.
Shortly before we left for America, I tore my hamstring and developed patella tendonitis (read: really sore middle part of my knees) from walking in a weird way to compensate for my dodgy hammy.
But we didn’t change our plans to visit the Grand Canyon, we just made sure we did it in a way that was safe for my limited mobility.
For those who have an inner geography nerd waiting to burst out, here are the geo-stats:
- The canyon is 277 river miles (446km) long, and up to 18miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.
- The landscape varies dramatically in different sections: the dense montane forests on the North Rim, to the desert next to the Colorado River deep in the canyon.
- Humans have been in the area for thousands of years. Relics range from Paleo-Indian 12,000-broken spear points 9,000 years ago and split-twig figurines from 9,000 – 2,500 years ago, to more “modern” abandoned mines and hotels.
- The canyon’s creation started almost two billion years ago with colliding tectonic plates. The heat and pressure from this process created the basement of the canyon. Further expansions of land masses and erosion from the Colorado River carved the layers exposing the red shale and limestone that we see today.
The spectacular views of the Grand Canyon are legendary. But we learnt first hand you can’t quite grasp the enormity of it until you are standing there looking out at the never-ending expanse of red shale and limestone.
Our visit was around the South Rim, due to the time of year we visited. Whils there is a free shuttle bus system available, we had our trusty 30 foot RV to stop off at the viewpoints and check out the scenery. We drove along Desert View Drive, stopping off at Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Desert View and the Watchtower.
The Watchtower is a recreation of prehistoric towers across the Southwest. It was built as an observation station and rest-stop for visitors, intending to give visitors a better understanding of American Indian history and culture.
It’s scattered with Indian art collected from a variety of sources, and the first large circular room represents the Kiva or the Sacred Ceremonial Chamber.
The centre contains a Snake Altar, displaying all objects used in the Snake Dance – a rain prayer performer every summer at the Hopi Villages 80 miles east of Desert View.
Next time we visit, I will be more mobile. We’d love to get up close to the Colorado River. And see more wildlife that the area is famous for! The desert is renowned for its rattlesnakes, and the mid-elevation in the Southwest for the mountain lions.
On this occasion, we saw an enormous American eagle, and many deer, who were unperturbed by the cars passing by. North Nomad caught me patting a fake mountain lion at the visitor centre – I put my embarrassment aside so he could take a photo!
Before you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon, take into consideration the time of year you’ll be visiting Arizona. There are two rims to the Canyon, 10miles apart as the crow flies, but 215miles (356km) by road.
The South Rim is around 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit (10-30 degrees Celsius) in Summer and 20-50 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to 10 degrees Celsius) in Winter. The North Rim is 10 degrees (6C) cooler. The South Rim is open all year around but the North Rim is open mid May to mid October.
Our visit was in mid October, which is heading towards Winter in the Northern Hemisphere. So, travellers from warmer climates would do well to remember to wear jackets which protect from the wind, and longer pants. Sometimes I’m forgetful, and my three quarter pants felt a bit chilly around my exposed ankles at this time of year!
Even if you visit in Fall like we did, or Winter, you’ll need your sunscreen. My face was a little pink after a couple of hours of hopping out of our RV to check out the sights.
And if you’re interested in booking a mule trip or visiting Phantom Ranch in the canyon bottom, you can book up to 13 months in advance. This suggests to me that they book out quickly, so I’d also keep this in mind when planning your trip.
Contact Details: (T) 928 638 7888
Location: Grand Canyon National park
Cost: Seven Day Single Visit Pass $25.00
You can connect with South Nomad, Jessica, over at Google+.