Visiting the Grand Canyon has been on my Bucket List for the past 5 years...
The Grand Canyon is one of the 7 "Natural Wonders Of The World" ( don't forget, there are many different types of "Wonders Of The World" ), and though it happens to be in this very country, I still can't believe it took me so much time to finally see it with my own eyes.
....unfortunately, it was absolutely opposite to how I dreamed/planned to visit this world famous Natural Wonder....
NOTE: There is a big different between "visiting" and "exploring" the Canyon.
"Visiting" mostly implies "stop by/drive by, take a bunch of pictures, and ,may be, do some light "exploring" ( short hiking, biking around the park, camping...)
"Exploring" ( for a small number of people ) means hiking rim-to-rim or multi-day backpacking or rafting.
Hiking rim-to-rim and getting "close and personal" was my original plan/dream. But as I happened to visit the park during one of its hottest months ( middle of June with day temperatures in high 80's ), I had absolutely no desire even to try to reach the bottom of the Canyon.
So I lowered my expectations, and settled with the idea to see the Grand Canyon like a tourist ( yeah, I still hate myself for that :) )
So, here are a few tips:
- I entered the South Rim through the East Entrance which gave me a good advantage to drive along the rim to the Village ( the heart of the park ).
- If you're a complete cheapskate ( and a bit of a dirtbag ), if you drive in after 8 pm it's practically "free" ( the park is open year round, there is no ranger on duty, and you'll "save" $25 ). But since I was on my Southwest road trip, I had my "America The Beautiful " annual pass for $80 from local REI
- The Desert View Campground was just a mile away from the park entrance, and, to my surprise, had available camp sites ( again, after 8pm "you don't really have to pay for camping"; $12.00 is not a whole lot of saving, but at least you could afford a cup of coffee at the local gift store the next morning ).
NOTE : Driving around the park is HORRIBLE ! So your best bet is to drive early in the morning, or late in the day.
- The park is huge ! Bring a bike ! Inside the park on the South Rim, cyclists are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads as well as on the Greenway Trail ( an awesome trail that links major points of interest throughout the park, opening up miles and miles of spectacular vistas along the South Rim ).
- Don't worry about bringing gallons of water with you, there are water fountains everywhere ( not to mention the stores )...Same for food, the South Rim is so commercialized that you could practically live there without leaving the park for months....
Even if you're visiting the park as a tourist, DON'T BE "THE TOURIST" !
It's a huge park with miles and miles of open spaces where you can take your own majestic picture ( without tons of people in the background ) ONLY if you're willing to move away from crowds.
Personally, I consider the Grand Canyon to be a classic All American Landmark ... meaning ... it is for lazy people ! It is possible to see it in a day. And that's what ,for most people, "visiting a National Park" all about...