Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Road Trip Part 3: Grand Canyon

After a really scenic drive past Flagstaff, we arrived at the Grand Canyon South Rim. 
Despite booking somewhat late, we lucked out and found a room at the Yavapai Lodge inside the Grand Canyon Village. The room was actually a lot nicer than I expected and it was nice to be right on the bus line.

On our first day, we started at Mather Point and we walked the Trail of Time towards the Bright Angel Lodge. The views were incredible and it was insane how little railing is at the rim! Our tour guide in Sedona told us that there are actually a lot of fatalities every year at the Grand Canyon, but most of them are kept quiet since it's such a tourist destination.  

On our second day at the Grand Canyon, we knew there was a chance of rain so we decided to do a hike first. We decided on the South Kaibab Trail. Hiking to the bottom of the canyon wasn't an option since we weren't camping at the bottom. There are actually signs all over reminding people that over 300 people have to be rescued every year from trying to make it down to the floor and back up in the same day (not surprisingly, it's mostly men between 26-40 years old). 

I was surprised at how thin the trails were and that a lot of it was slippery (due to gravel) with a long drop off. It definitely took a little bit to get comfortable. We hiked down to the 2nd checkpoint (which was about 1.5 hours) before hiking back up to the top of the rim. 
This is one of my favorite pictures from our trip, but was possibly not worth it. Jason was definitely being very risky and a small slip could have been treacherous!

Our little friend who came right up to us on the trail! He was so curious!
After the hike, we drove out to Desert View watchtower.It's a 25 mile drive with stops along the way. The craziest part of the drive was how extreme the weather conditions were. It was sunny and 55 degrees around Grand Canyon Village, but at one point during the drive, the vegetation completely changed. We saw signs that there were panthers in the area and then it started snowing profusely for about 5 miles! When we got to the watchtower, the weather was just like it was at the start of the drive; however, we had snow again on the drive back in the same 5 mile area!

The views of the Colorado River were best from the Desert View stop.
There were Elk everywhere!
For the last part of our night, we took the Hermit's Rest bus route (the shuttles inside the Village are all free and they come every 10-15 minutes). We got off at various stops (Mohave Point and Pima Point were our favorites). We decided to watch the sunset from Mohave Point and it was well worth it (despite the drastic temperature drop)!
We ended the night with pizza and beer at a pub inside one of the lodges. The great part about being at the Grand Canyon for 2 days was that we really got to see everything. If we ever went back, we'd definitely have to do back country hiking and camping.

Now on to the final stretch of our trip: Hoover Dam and Vegas!

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