White water rafting, helicopter tours, and a great sunset view, are just few fun adventures at the Grand Canyon National Park. There’s so much more to this natural wonder. Carved over 10,000 years ago, she has seen ice ages, Anasazi settlements, the Louisiana Purchase, a Civil War, and is presently bordered by Utah, Nevada, and Arizona.
As we headed east on highway 15 from Las Vegas towards the North Rim’s Kaibab Reservation in Arizona, the long, plain desert drive did little to prepare me for the breathtaking national wonder in the middle of the Mojave . While the South Rim offers the best views at Hermit’s Rest, Hopi Point, and Mather Point, the Walhalla Plateau at the North Rim contains some of the most pristine spots like Uncle Jim Point, Roaring Spring, Bright Angel Point, Point Imperial, Cape Royal, Jupiter Temple, Dragon Head, and Buddha Temple. The South Rim, featuring Market Plaza and Grand Canyon Village is open all year, along with East Rim’s Desert View Drive and Tuweep or Toroweap Overlook. The North Rim is open Mid-May through Mid-October. We are cautioned that there may not be a gas station for miles ahead in the desolate desert.
In the dry heat, one frequently feels parched and our sun block does little to protect from getting burned. In mid-afternoon, we had taken a one-day river trip which started from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry. As the currents from the Colorado River twist and turn through the canyon’s belly, I am humbled by its myriad formations, color patterns, and ancient history that is unveiled by the spectacular landscape. A small child has fainted from the prolonged exposure to the extreme heat. When the sun is directly above the head, it is best to find shade and always carry a water bottle.
The nearest hotel at the North Rim is The Grand Canyon Lodge which gets booked quickly during the tourist season. Further away, towards the South rim, a wider selection of hotels become available. From the hotel, mule rides, camping, and backcountry hiking can be booked. Don’t worry if you don’t explore everything in one trip. To become familiar with the canyon, you have to visit it more than once.
Arrangements can be made for trips to nearby points such as the Hoover Dam, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Las Vegas, and a Hopi Indian Reservation. The native tribes are so richly tied to the region’s art, literature, music, and culture that to visit the canyon is to experience their story. At the souvenir shops, I find their motifs and handiwork on every item. As my trip comes to an end, I am left with a sense of awe and wonder at its vastness and beauty. I have returned since that trip to the canyon, which still calls me to return once more!