We recently hit our seventh national park! The Grand Canyon, the mother of them all. Here are some Grand Canyon pictures to show it in all its glory.
Obviously we realised the Grand Canyon was big – the name sort of gives it away – but we truly had no idea just how grand it was until we saw it for ourselves.
We arrived via the East Entrance and watched the sun go down over Desert View Watchtower. The tower looks like it could be a Native American ruin, but it was actually built in the 1930s. It provides an amazing view over the Grand Canyon.
The next day we hiked the Bright Angel trail down to Indian Garden – a 14 kilometre round trip with an elevation change of more than 1,000 metres. Going down was fine, but coming back up was a shock and we took plenty of rest breaks. It was also a really dusty walk and we ended up with our legs and shoes covered in a fine red dust. Beware of reptiles along the way, as well. One of the rangers we spoke to on the way down had said she’d seen quite a few rattlesnakes that day. It was only 10 minutes later that we rounded a corner and saw a Grand Canyon Pink Rattlesnake slithering under a rock. A baby one, but a rattlesnake nonetheless!
Along the way we met several people who were hiking from the North Rim to the South Rim. This is normally a two-day trip but there was one group who was doing it in less than 24 hours.
On our last day we took the bus to a few of the viewpoints along the Rim Trail. Like Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon has an efficient bus system that avoids unnecessary car traffic around the park.
What to know
What to do: The Grand Canyon actually has three main parts – the South Rim, the North Rim and the West Rim. The South Rim is the most touristed, while the North Rim sees fewer visitors. The West Rim is the newest section, and is home to a glass skywalk 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon. I would definitely do this part next time we visit. This blog post by A Dangerous Business has a great comparison of the South and North Rims. Each section of the park has many hikes of various distance and difficulty – check out the National Park Service website for more information. If hiking isn’t your thing, the NPS website also lists a number of scenic drives.
Cost: You’ll pay $30 per vehicle which gets you access to both the North and South Rims for seven days. But, if you’re planning on visiting a few national parks in a year, make sure you get your America the Beautiful annual pass to save you money, just like we did on our Utah road trip!
Where to stay: There are a number of places within the park itself, both lodges and campsites – but you’ll need to book well in advance. The lodges book up a year in advance! Or you can stay outside the park in Grand Canyon Village. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Plaza Hotel which was comfortable but, as can be expected in touristy parts, overpriced. The town is small but has a few restaurants and bars to fuel up after a day of hiking.
Have you been to the Grand Canyon? Which one of my Grand Canyon pictures inspires you the most to visit?
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