The Grand Canyon
I have visited this amazing place twice and have not yet written a review mainly because it really is impossible to do this justice just writing about it. It is somewhere that just takes your breathe a way when you first see it. Even on my second visit I was still 'wowed' by my first view of the canyon despite having seen it before.
The first time I went was about five years ago and I was just with my husband; we drove up from Phoenix and stayed at the Bright Angel in a cabin. On this occasion we took a helicopter flight over the canyon and that was a bit hairy just flying over the canyon rim but the views were worth it .Once I got used to the fact that the helicopter does bounce around just like a plane when there are air currents I was able to look out of the window around me and enjoy the experience. The window was under and beside me so I really did get a bird's eye view.
On the second occasion we stayed once again at Bright Angel but in the main building this time. We were travelling with my daughter and her partner and we met my son and his partner there as they flew in to Las Vegas and drove down to join us. That made it quite special for me as my son lives in Toronto now and so I only see him when we go to the States or he flies home .
OPENING TIMES AND FEES
This is a National Park so entry is free if you have an 'America the Beautiful' card - annual National Park card but if not then you will have to visit the park headquarters nearest the entrance and pay $25 per vehicle or if coming in by foot then it is $12 per person which I think is great value.
The South rim is open all year every day but the north rim which is where the main accommodation is and most visited does have a very restricted season. This goes from May 15th through to mid October. Both of my visits were in summer, the first in August and the second in June.
HOW TO GET THERE
We drove there on both visits and it is an easy drive but there are few service stations en route to Flagstaff so be aware that you will need the car fueled and food for you if you don't want to pay silly prices for average food at the Xanterra lodges! To drive from Las Vegas and back in a day would be a very LONG day but could be done I suppose.
The Grand Canyon Railway has steam trains between Williams, AZ (on I-40) and Grand Canyon Village.The steam train delivers you just near the Bright Angel and then you have a couple of hours there and returns you back to Williams. The only issue with that is you only get to see the canyon in the day time unless you choose to stay overnight and go on the train the next day. Then Amtrak has a train service from Flagstaff, AZ to places nationwide.
You can take a scenic flight over the canyon from Las Vegas and you can fly into the little airport at the Grand Canyon but the planes or helicopters are private charters so it is not a cheap option.
PLACES TO STAY
The lodges in the National Park are all run by Xanterra. My feeling is that Xanterra have a monopoly and that because their accommodation is within the National Parks they will always be full as there is no competition. The accommodation has been basic and functional but at the same price as we paid for far nicer places outside the National Parks. I think they are resting on their laurels somewhat and make little effort to offer decent food because people have nowhere else to go so they have to eat there. Little effort has been made to update the accommodation either but it is clean and the beds were comfortable so I have no major complaints there.
I would say if you are visiting any of the large National Parks in the USA book well in advance and don't expect bargain prices or luxury accommodation. The accommodation is somewhere basic to stay while you experience the wonders of the park it is not somewhere to stay to experience the accommodation.
If you are planning a visit in the US summer break then be prepared for crowds. When we were at the Grand Canyon in August it was really crowded, there were cars at every car park and crowds at the viewing points. We had to queue to check in and out and getting food was a nightmare. The next time we were there in June and although the lodge was pretty full and there were still plenty of people around the place somehow it seemed calmer. We were able to walk along the rim by the Bright Angel without dodging children with ice creams.
We arrived around 2 o' clock in the afternoon and drove along the canyon road popping into each look out point as we passed by. Once we arrived at the Bright Angel we walked along the Canyon pathway taking in the sight before having another walk through to Yavapai lodge where my son had booked into. The walk was lovely through pine trees along a bark path and we found Yavapai Lodge but my son had not checked in then.
On the way we also passed the steam train waiting for its passengers to return. It was a very spectacular sight watching it chuff off later that day. We also passed the mule enclosure where they keep the mules you can ride on down into the canyon for a price.
We left the lodge and found our way to the little shop where we bought some supplies, mainly beer and wine and crisps I admit so that we could watch the sun go down over the canyon later that evening.
Bright Angel is a great spot to stay as it is right on the Canyon North rim so we were able to take our beers etc out and sit on the ledge just outside our room. We wandered up and down the area just nearby and spent some time in the old view point but to be honest you can see the colours changing from anywhere along the ledge. Most day trippers have left by sun down so there is plenty of space to get a good view. We sat on the wall and enjoyed our 'Grand Canyon' beers watching the colour changes and taking far more photos that we needed to.
My son arrived around 9 pm and by that time we were starving so went to eat in the restaurant in the Bright Angel. I have written a review on the Bright Angel already so won't go into that.
The next morning just before sunrise we struggled into our warm clothes and ventured out to watch the sunrise. No beers this time! We were so pleased that our lodging was only about a dozen paces from the ledge so it was not too much of an effort to get there.
If you can't be bothered to get up for sunrise I would say that in fact sunset offers better colour changes and you won't miss that much. Having made the effort to get to the Grand canyon we decided we would do it all.
You can take a walk out on to the glass platform if you have tons of money. It was almost the same price as our helicopter ride had been so we felt it was not worth the effort of getting there and really you can see pretty much from the edge anyway.
We had a very average breakfast at Yavapai lodge before heading on our way to Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam.
This really is as good as it looks on the photos and films. The colours are perfect and do change as the light changes. Go and just sit and look around you. Find a spot and sit and just be amazed at what nature has carved out.
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When my husband and I did a road trip around the US, the Grand Canyon was our first stop. I have actually been before, but even previous visits can't prepare you for the breath taking beauty of the place. You'll need a set of batteries and a memory card for your visit here alone because every step you take brings another wonderful sight and photo opportunity - it simply is that good! We went to the South Rim area known as Grand Canyon Village, which is almost 300km away from Las Vegas, driving along highways and interstates. The drive is very easy (we have never driven abroad before and found it to be a doddle) and the views on the way are great.
Entrance to the park is $25 per car, regardless of how many passengers are in it and that fee allows you unlimited access for seven days from issue. This is fantastic if you are there for a couple of days and still worth it even if you are only there overnight like we were. It also has the added bonus of meaning that you can choose to stay in a cheaper hotel outside of the park gates and drive in each day without incurring extra charges.
The park can, as you would expect, get very busy in summer. We went in October this time and it wasn't too bad. The area we visited is the most popular, but it is such a big place that you can still find peace and even solitude quite easily. The busiest areas are around the cafes and shops, which was fine with me, because that wasn't the bit that I was visiting!
We stayed inside the park at one of the park's five accommodations. We chose the cheapest of the bunch - Maswik Lodge - which was fantastic. It had a feel of a hostel to it, but the rooms are private and have plenty of facilities including a fridge and a huge 42" television, which has to be the most redundant thing on the planet when you consider the view outside of the window. All of the accommodations are understated and blend in with the surrounding nature and at around $70 per night, we thought this one was great value and perfectly suitable. The other places offer the full range of standards right up to the luxurious El Tovar, so you can find whatever you want.
Grand Canyon Village is aptly named because it is very much like a little village in that it has restaurants, café, bars and shops. Pleasingly though, it isn't in any way tacky. The shops are all part of the various hotels and so blend in nicely. They tend to sell basic things including snacks and a range of essential items, but at slightly inflated prices, given the location. If you are staying over and want a drink, I'd totally recommend the bar at the Angel Lodge hotel which is a wonderful little place offering, amongst other things, a wide selection of cocktails. The bar is a cosy place that is gently lit and often has live music on.
You can drive around parts of the park, although I'd highly recommend parking up in one of the many (free) car parks and using the (free) shuttle buses to explore. There are three routes called Red, Blue and Yellow (original hey?) and they pretty much cover all of the accessible areas of the park. They run completely regularly and are very reliable and convenient. Each of the bus stops details the route and the other stops available, as well as the bus timetables so they are very easy to use. We took full advantage of the bus and found it a very handy way of exploring. There are lots of different viewpoints that you can visit and the buses cover all of them. They also give you an exact distance between the stop that you are at and the next one each way. We really enjoyed walking between bus stops too - you can ride the bus out to the end and then alternate between walking and getting the bus to ensure that you aren't wasting time waiting for buses.
The park itself is absolutely stunning, as you would imagine, from whichever way you look at it. No amount of photographs can really do justice to the beauty that is literally all around you. I am really struggling to describe it without sounding all cheesy, but it really is like nothing else. The colours are fabulous and the shapes that the Colorado River has carved into the canyon are incredible - I could have spent hours just standing and staring and it is easy to do as there are so many things to look at. Squinting at the river at the bottom gives you some idea of the scale of the canyon, but there are placards around the edges that indicate spots in the distance are around 14 miles away. The placards also label some of the more interesting rock shapes and points in the canyon, as well as giving interesting facts about it. The signage is all done in a way that will engage everyone from children to adults and from casual tourists to keen climbers.
You can take walks down into the canyon, although it isn't as simple as just strolling down there. Thanks to the heat and the sheer distance down to the bottom, you really have to come prepared if you want to explore downwards. There are lots of information signs that warn of the dangers of going unprepared and alone. You can walk a little way down without too much strain, but to be honest we preferred walking around the edge and looking down at the view.
One of the most amazing things about Grand Canyon Village is how much thought and care they have given to maintaining the natural feel of the place, whilst opening it up to visitors. The buildings are all low and surrounding by trees to minimalize their impact. There are a couple of rules that are strictly enforced, such as no littering and making sure that pets are kept on a leash at all times. The best thing though in my opinion, was the complete lack of light pollution. There are very few lights in the village - just enough that you can see where you are going but not enough to ruin the fabulous view into the sky at night. It is worth staying over for this alone. I don't think I have ever been able to see as many stars in the sky as you can here, it really is quite spectacular. Remember that it is the desert though and so it does get cold at night, so bring warm clothes for that.
Needless to say, I absolutely loved the Grand Canyon and I firmly believe that it is one of those places that you should visit in your lifetime if you can. It doesn't have to be expensive because there are places to stay and eat that suit every budget and it isn't just about the walking - there is a great atmosphere around the social part of the village too.
After a 4 hour drive and stepping out into a cloud of baking heat, my enthusiasm about seeing this big hole in the ground had been drained. That was until I saw it and it turned out to be one of the highlights of an American adventure.
It's not just a hole in the ground, it's a REALLY big hole in the ground. It's so vast and intimidating most of the scenery looks fake, like a cardboard cut out stood up just in front of us. I can't imagine what would happen if anyone got stuck down there.
One of the best things about it was that although there were obvious restrictions to certain access points, you could just climb under them! Of course it wasn't the safest feat in the world but we were feeling a little bit dangerous and ended up with some pretty spectacular photographs stood right on the brink of the cliffs with the chasm just below our feet. We just climbed under the fence to get there. Other people were doing it too and no-one stopped us. I guess those responsible for the Park just figured, 'If you fall and die then it's your own goddamn fault.'
We ended up staying for quite a while, even if all there is to do is stand and stare open-mouthed. I wish we weren't poor students and could have taken advantage of one of the flights over or even the camping trip INSIDE the canyon, but we were.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park is located In Arizona, USA, and is one of the most impressive natural landscapes on the planet. Standing on the edge of the grand canyon is an overwhelming experience, photographs really don't do it justice. The Colorado river, originating up in the Rocky mountains, runs for 227miles and over millions of years has helped form this huge canyon. 17 miles wide in places and a mile deep, the truly is one of the wonders of the natural world.
There is so much to do around the canyon, with lots of visitor centres and tourist area's built up around it you won't get bored exploring around here. There are numerous hike routes into and around the canyon, usually with water points along the route and all with varying levels of intensity to satisfy everyone from novices to experience hikers. The route I did almost killed me, a 7.5 hour treck on the Bright Angel Trail, all the way to plateau point, which was still another 1,000feet above the river!
Aside from hiking you can always opt for a helicopter ride over the canyon, which is a once in a lifetime experience, the view from the air are something special and the sheer scale of the canyon can be seen from up there although it is still hard to believe.
As this area is fairly remote, expect to pay more for hotels/food and such, and I would reccomend going all out and camping somewhere around the park if you can face roughing it for a while. Or if you really want to go to town, and can get a permit, you can camp in the canyon, during one of your hikes. Which is the only was to actually get down to the river at the bottom.
If you ever get a chance to go, you must do it, the experience will stay with you forever.
My boyfriend and I decided that visiting the Grand Canyon was something that we had to do whilst on holiday in Las Vegas. It is not somewhere that we anticipate travelling to again therefore it was a somewhere that we were certain we wanted to see. It was day 4 of our holiday and we were running out of days to travel to the canyon so the main task of the day whilst viewing the hotels along the strip was to find a tour to the Grand Canyon that we wanted to go on that was also within our price range.
After going to the concierge desk at our hotel and being given a number of options that were well above our price range we were feeling a bit downbeat thinking that maybe we wouldn't get the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon after all. This was until we visited a Tix4Less stand with electronic boards which offer discounted tours and shows. On the board we saw a Helicopter Tour and a West Rim Bus Tour. I suffer from travel sickness big time. Before travelling, I visited Boots and bought some travel tablets as well as travel bands which had been recommended to me by a colleague at work. We discussed which trip we wanted to take and settled on the West Rim Bus Tour as we wanted to take lots of pictures of scenery that we had been told was amazing (especially as my boyfriend had brought his new lens for his camera with him) and the helicopter tour that they were offer flew over the canyon but did not land. Also, it was the less expensive option and we used the money we didn't spend on tickets to see Barry Manilow!
We booked the West Rim Bus Tour with Tix4Less and it cost $280 for the pair of us which works out at approximately £170 which is quite reasonable for what incorporated a light breakfast, buffet lunch and the bus tour which incorporated a photo opportunity at Hoover Dam on route to the Grand Canyon.
We were collected by a shuttle bus outside the side entrance of our hotel (MGM Grand) at an unearthly hour of the morning, 5.30am. Our tour guide, Mark Gilmore (who looked very much like one of the chuckle brothers) checked our names off the list and handed us a sticker to put on our clothes. I felt a bit like I was at school although these stickers turn out to be very important to the tour guides when people go walkabout whilst at the Canyon. This shuttle then took us on to the Luxor Hotel where a large air-conditioned coach was waiting.
Free chilled bottles of water were supplied to all passengers on the coach throughout the day to prevent anyone from getting dehydrated. I was quite impressed by this as I was drinking a large amount of water whilst in Las Vegas and the water isn't very cheap out there.
Whilst at Hoover Dam, we were given a small boxed breakfast which contained fruit juice, a large muffin, an apple and some biscuits. And from here we were on route to the main event, the Grand Canyon. From Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon, the tour guide Mark put on a short DVD that spoke about the history of the canyon which I thought was quite a nice touch. He also showed his knowledge in telling us a lot of interesting facts about this amazing place. The journey was extremely smooth until you reached a dirt track road. It is a shame we didn't go next year or the year after as this is currently being concreted and the bumpiness of the road did make me feel a little sick. I just focused on the cool scenery on route to the canyon as we were driving through an area with masses of Joshua Trees. If you don't know what these are, have a look at a picture on google. They really are funky and make for a pretty good landscape on your drive up.
Before you can drive on to Eagle Point, the first stop is a main area where your tour guide registers your group and any of those in the group go off on their helicopter rides from here. There is also a small shop which allows you to buy any souvenirs of the Grand Canyon like books, key rings, postcards and other gifts for you to take home with you for friends and family or for yourself as a reminder of your visit.
The fist place that we stopped was called Eagle Point. The reason for it being called this is because the rocks appear in the shape of an eagle with spread wings. The landscape here is absolutely stunning. It is unbelievable that this scenery is completely natural. A member of the Hualapai tribe (the tribe that own the Grand Canyon) stood on the rocks where tourists like myself and my boyfriend would look at the views and was available to ask any questions and always offer to take photographs if you wish to have a picture of you in front of the beautiful landscape that is the Grand Canyon. I asked the member of the tribe if he ever got bored of the sight that although is breathtaking, seeing it everyday might get a little boring after a while. He said no because the landscape changes a little every single day. Small and big rocks break off and edit the sight. It was this comment that led me to move backwards from the edge as it is a long way down and there is nothing to prevent your from falling to a painful death. The tour guide told us on the way to Eagle Point to watch our step as there are no rails along the edge as the tribe do not want to spoil the landscape and that makes the landscape all the more beautiful. I think if rails were to be put up around the edge; it really would take something away from the Grand Canyon even if it would be safer. Also, if you do ever decide to go, take my advice and don't wear flip flops like I did. Eagle Point in particular have unsafe rocks as well as numerous cracks which mean that you can loose your footing quite easily but if you tread carefully and wear sensible footwear, you will be fine. And also make sure you take plenty of photographs. It is truly sensational.
The skywalk is also situated at Eagle Point. It is a structure that looks is approximately 70 over the Canyon. This is not something that interested my partner and I as the tour guide had put us off it a little. He believed that it is just a money making scheme (which in fairness it is) and is a bit of an eye sore.
When the hour that was allocated to Eagle Point was up, we made our way back to the coach. The next stop was Guano Point. Mark said that if we thought that Eagle Point had good views, we were now in for a real treat. I could not believe that this could be the case but they really were. Before taking a walk around Guano Point we were to the small restaurant which included a small, selective buffet of rice, chicken and burritos. We sat on the allocated benches outside which were undercover, thankfully from the blistering heat.
When we had finished our lunch we went for a walk around the edge of Guano Point. There was plenty of pathway to walk around to the other side of the canyon. As you walk along the path, you see different perspectives of the breathtaking views of the natural beauty of the Grand Canyon and you have clear views of the Colorado River. As you walk further around, you come to a large hill that you can walk up and take great pictures although I was too much of a chicken to climb up it myself. It is also at Guano Point that you can see mining remains. The scenery at this place looks like it is background from a film. It really does not look real.
On our return journey a film was put on for us to watch but I must admit I feel asleep until my boyfriend work me up to tell me we were taking a slight detour to see some horned sheep at a local park in Boulder City. This was a nice little break in the coach trip but not something that was scheduled into the trip. We were returned back to our hotel by the coach at around 5pm that evening so it was a very long day although I did see that there were longer tours available.
Visiting the Grand Canyon was remarkable. I can honestly say that I have not seen a scene so breathtaking in my life. The pictures that I have taken look like I am standing behind a film set, it really is unbelievable. I strongly recommend a visit to the Grand Canyon if you ever visit Las Vegas. It is something that everyone should see first hand. It may seem like a large amount of money and a whole day taken out of your holiday but I believe it was worth every single penny. And I am 100% pleased that we went for the bus tour as we have the most amazing pictures as a reminder of the views that we witnessed. If you get the opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon, do it!
Going to Vegas we decided to do a trip to the Grand Canyon - a once in a lifetime trip to one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. It's about a 2 and a half / 3 hours drive from Vegas and as my friend is scared of flying we did the coach trip rather than helicopter (which I wanted to do)!
We booked before we went and it cost $140 per person (about £85) and included the coach tour, lunch and a walk out on the Skywalk (more on that later). Not a bad price to be honest. Ours was the West Rim Bus Tour (the best tour is the West Rim one).
We got picked up at Ballys Hotel (opposite ours) in Vegas and were shuttled to Planet Hollywood where we had to queue up and get our tickets. We didn't have to pay til the day of the trip (just reserve it on a credit card) and we paid cash. We were given stickers to wear with our coach number on it and then were allowed a free drink (water or fruit juice) and a breakfast bar (cereal bar) for the coach journey. We got on the coach and our driver was also our tour guide and we set off at 7.30am. Our driver was very knowledgeable and narrated during the whole drive. He knew everything - we drove through Henderson, Boulder City and up to the Hoover Dam which is on the Nevada and Arizona state line. You get out for a photo op here - and a stop at the gift shop of course! Then you set back out on the road to the Canyon in Arizona. You have to drive along a dirt track (which is apparently being concreted next year) so was a bit bumpy towards the end. You drive through a Joshua Tree forest on the way as well which is quite stunning - in fact all the scenery is as you drive through the desert.
Arriving at the Canyon you get off at the main terminal. You follow your driver into the terminal where you are handed your park tickets. If you've bought Skywalk or helicopter tickets in advance you'll be given these too. We got there at about 10.45am in the end and were told to return to the coach at 2.45pm - so we had 4 hours at the Canyon which is more than enough. There are three main places at the Canyon West - Eagle Point where the Skywalk is located, Guano Point which gives better views and a better place to eat lunch and an Indian Tribe point where again you can eat, and watch tribal dances from the Walapai tribe. There is a coach service which does all these points (all included in the ticket price). You can also buy tickets for the helicopters here if you fancy a ride to the bottom of the Canyon on one - you will need state issued ID for this though (i.e. a passport). We were told to bring passports along for our trip but never showed them once. From the main terminal you can get on a coach to go to the Indian Tribe point, and then when you've finished you come back to the main terminal and get another coach to Eagle Point - this bus also drops off at Guano Point afterwards. The buses are about every ten minutes. We didn't go to the Indian Tribe point, just Guano and Eagle so we got on the bus that went to those.
Stopping at Eagle Point first, we were stunned by the scenery - it is beautiful. The Walapai tribe who own and maintain the National Park don't believe in handrails or anything, so you can literally just walk off the edge. I suppose it so it stays as natural as possible but it is quite dangerous - people were teetering on the edge to get pictures looking down - one wrong move and they'd have fallen to their death! Was simply stunning though. You can just about see the Colorado River from this point but its better viewed from Guano Point around the corner of the Canyon. Eagle Point is named because of the rock formation looks like an Eagle with it's wings spread. The Indians believe it will keep their nation safe. It's quite easy to spot this - but careful you don't fall off the edge trying to get a picture! There are cracks all over the Canyon (some quite wide), so as you step over them you can see straight down for 4000 feet. Very scary!
Eagle Point though is where the Skywalk is situated - if you didn't buy tickets in advance you can buy tickets there and then (cheaper in advance though). The Skywalk was opened in 2006 and is basically a manmade structure or bridge that hangs 70 feet over the Canyon. The floor is glass so it's literally like you're walking on air. Not for the faint hearted. My friend held onto the handrail the entire time! I thought it was amazing though - looking down and seeing thousands of feet of nothing underneath you is quite surreal and breathtaking. Not only that but because you descend 70 feet over the edge of the Canyon a little bit you get much better views. You can't take anything on the Skywalk (no cameras!) and you have to wear plastic bags over your shoes. You get free lockers to put your stuff in which you get back after the Skywalk. There are plenty of official photographers though (of course) so you can have loads of pictures taken and pick the best ones. They have you laying down, sitting down, everything! It's like a mini photoshoot! It's pretty amazing being out there in thin air though. The glass sheets have half inch gaps between them (on the floor) which makes it even more scary and there is also a gap all the way round between the glass floor and the glass wall (about a foot). My friend wasn't impressed!! I thought it was amazing though.
Photos are quite expensive - they were $30 each or 4 for $100. I paid the $100 (gasp) and ended up with all rest of the pictures we had taken put on a USB stick for free (about 20 pics) so I can print these off at home if I want to. The pictures come framed and you also get a free gift which is some pens, a hat and a t shirt. So if you're going to buy all that junk anyway at least you get it free! There's a gift shop at Eagle Point too that sells lots of old toot (all the usual souvenir tat but you have to buy something - it is the Grand Canyon after all!).
Then we queued up for the coach to take us to Guano Point. There are much better views here and you can walk around a lot further than at Eagle Point. There are lots of hills which people were climbing all the way to top of and taking pictures up there - I didn't wear the best footwear for this outing so I didn't bother with that! There's some stunning views of the Colorado River and I got some great pictures that look like they are out of a book the views are so stunning. It really is quite eerie and magical standing there amongst it all. We walked around the corner to a bit where there were no people and literally just sat on the edge overlooking the river and Canyon in the slience and it was amazing. We had lunch here - you hand in your meal voucher that was attached to your park ticket - it wasn't great - I think it varies everyday but it filled a rather large hole! There are benches outside so you can eat your lunch with the view of the Canyon around you - amazing. There's no gift shop here - there is a big gift shop at the main terminal though for when you head back.
We probably had time to go to the Indian Tribe point but instead just sat at Guano Point and took in the views (and a lot of pictures!). We didn't fancy rushing about in the heat and felt that we had seen what we wanted to see at the Canyon. We headed back at about 2pm to the main terminal on the bus and browsed the gift shop (where you get a free certificate and gift if you buy something) and then headed back onto the coach. We had a film played for a couple of hours (Iron Man) until we reached the Hoover Dam again, and then our driver made 2 extra special stops - he says he doesn't do it all the time but I bet he does. We stopped at Lake Mead next to the Dam on the Nevada side -which was stunning. And then in the town of Boulder City to look at some curly horned sheep (the national animal of the state of Nevada). Quite random but extra bits to our trip we weren't expecting!
We finally got back to Vegas at about 7pm and were dropped direct back at our hotels which was nice. The Canyon was amazing - once in a lifetime experience and I would highly recommend doing this if you're going to Vegas. It does take a whole day and is rather tiring (we were up at 5.30am and back in the hotel at 7.30pm) but is SO worth it. The views are stunning and I am so glad I went. Plus it wasn't very expensive either.
We drove from Vegas to the Grand Canyon in a hired RV. The day we arrived there was a massive thunderstorm and this was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen- lightning shooting down the canyon right infront of us! However, I wouldn't recommend standing on the canyon edge in a storm because most of the trees near us were dead from lightning strikes!!
We spent four days walking along the rim of the canyon in various different areas. The views from each corner you turn are truly astonishing! Altough only experienced hikers/ guided treks trek right down to the canyon we walked a part way down towards Plateau point for an hour or so on a windy path. Although we had only scratched the surface of the canyon, I would recommend walking part way down as looking up to the rim gives you a sense of being in the canyon, not just above it. There were mule treks going all the way down to Plateau Point which looked great (not much effort involved!) and I can imagine the view from the edge of the Plateau t the Colorado would be fantastic (there are very few areas on the rim where you have a clear view of the river.)
Would also recommend a very early start to watch sunrise at the canyon.
Just remember it is HOT! Sunblock and loads of water are a must for anyone walking the rim or hiking down.
Before going to the Grand Canyon I didn't really kow what to expect. We put it into our travels as we knew it was worth seeing but beyong that we didn't really have any expectations.
We spent a whole day at the Grand Canyon. We firstly walked around the rim, seeing the amazing views. Although what you're seeing is pretty much the same thing the whole way round at the same time what you're seeing is different due to the different colours and shapes.
The sheer size of the Canyon is hard to describe, I thought it was HUGE!!! I didn't realise how huge until I went in a helicopter over the canyon and this just shows the vastness of this wonder. even then it's still quite hard to comprehend.
The helicopter ride is well worth the money, particularly the view just as you fly over the rim of the canyon. You can see the little lakes and rivers in the bottom and just get a feel for how big it is - something that you cannot do just by standing and looking or walking around it.
The Grand Canyon is simple what it's called! Well worth seeing especially if you're not sure what to expect.
The Grand Canyon was the greatest trip of my life. A few years ago, I visited Las Vegas and stayed at the Luxor. At around 6am, we had to get up as the bus was picking us up at 8am and we wanted lots of time to get ready and eat. The trip can be done from a variety of companies, and can cost anything from £150-£200 per person. It is an expensive trip but one of the wonders of the world and well-worth it!
You can either fly over the Canyon by plane such as a Cenessa, or you can go by helicopter like I did. The helicopter gave a very good view as the windows were large and went right down near the floor so you had a great review. I had never been in a helicopter flying before so it was a fantastic experience. The pilot obviously trusted us as he simply sat in front of us and flew - we all had headsets on but there was a microphone attached so we could speak to each other as it was very loud in there (the ear muffs lowered the noise). Before boarding, we even got our photos taken with the pilot in front of the helicopter.
The actual flight was a once in a lifetime chance. It was simply amazing. This canyon was absolutely enormous and one part we flew over went down around a mile deep. I felt so small over this huge canyon, it was quite surreal! It had a lovely sandy look and the high cliffs shadowed over the lower parts of the canyon where rivers ran down some parts. The immense size of the canyon was just amazing to experience. The helicopter itself was flown well. It took off rather quickly and made a quick ascent. The flight itself was very smooth and the landing was quite quick too but didn't make you feel bad. The touch down was very soft, as we landed at a ranch!
Yup, we went to a ranch for lunch! We hung out with some proper cowboys and checked out this ranch. I remember having a cheeseburger for lunch with some fries, which was really nice. We then got to ride horses as well as practice throwing ropes around wooden animal heads like rodeo. We were taught the motion of swinging the rope above the head and throwing it out accurately. It was great fun and a real experience - like being on a different planet! There were a few dogs around the ranch too. After a good hour and a half, we flew back by the side of the canyon with it in good sight. We saw other helicopters as we flew back, so it's obviously quite popular! We flew from and back to Las Vegas airport to a special part where the helicopter pads were. It was a trip I'll never forget and really is a once in a lifetime chance! It is really amazing and well-worth doing, even for the money.
Thanks for reading,
- Recon -
As we thought we may never go back to Las Vegas, we decided to pay that bit more for our trip of the Grand Canyon, after all, this was a trip of a lifetime, and with much deliberation, we decided to do the more extensive and little more expensive trip
..and I am so glad we made that decision! We booked it on line before leaving for our holiday, and the price quoted was £199.00, but as they dont take it from your credit card till the day you go on your trip, the exchange rate at that time put us in a favourable position and the trip actually only cost us about £160! Our tour operator was Papillion Tours www.papillon.com. They picked us up from our Hotel at 9am, then picked up other tourists from various Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip (so this gave us a chance to see the front door of other Hotels!) Then onto Henderson aerodrome in about 20 minutes.
Arriving at the aerodrome, we all booked in, showed our passports and paid for our trip, got weighed and then waited perhaps about half an hour for our Cessna to be ready! Off onto the tarmac, where a photographer is waiting to take your picture with one of the crew members and your plane in the background (which on your return, you have the opportunity of purchasing for around $10) ,
This small aeroplane was something that scared me a little (having been on a small sea plane before), as I knew the turbulence could be quite scary and the thought of going over rough terrain in this was quite overwhelming for me! Anyway, everyone gets a window seat as there is only one seat either side of this plane. You get your earphones on, and listen to a commentary, which is all quite interesting, and it certainly muffles the sound of the very noisy engines! This flight lasts about 45 minutes, and takes you over the Hoover Dam, which was exciting, seeing it for real, and of course, the famous Lake Mead, the reservoir created by Hoover and Davis Dam. The plane journey alone is a nice experience, so didnt know what else would top that?
We landed at the small aerodrome for West Rim, but now it was time for the Helicopter ride to go down into the Canyon floor .. I had been worried about the small aeroplane, how on earth was I going to cope with this experience! I had been quite anxious beforehand about this side of it, seeing as I have a fear of heights, and just the whole thought of descending down 4000 feet into the mouth of the Canyon, absolutely terrified me, but I had paid the money to do it, so I had to go for it!
After getting some of the passengers checked in again for the Helicopter tour,(as some were only doing the coach tour) we were given what seat number and what helicopter we would have on our trip, plus a safety film to watch in the waiting area, we were back on another tarmac waiting for our helicopter to arrive. There was quite a cool wind up there, though the sun was shining, but within 5 minutes we saw our helicopter land, and that is when I nearly hyper ventilated! Well, I had to force myself to walk towards that helicopter, but once seated, the assistant re-assured me I would love it! Making sure our seat belts were fastened securely, we were are off the ground in seconds! Initially I closed my eyes, until my travelling companions pointed out to me that that was a silly thing to do, considering thats why we booked this tour, was to actually see the Grand Canyon from a helicopter!?
When you first lift off, the helicopter skims over the Canyon and your first image is a huge gaping hole, then the helicopter, turns round again, and literally starts it's descent down into this big hole! It must have been the scariest and most exciting thing I have ever done in my life, and because you are so close to the steep rock formations, this makes it even more scarier! Now when you stop thinking about yourself being taken down 4000 feet into a Canyon over millions of years old, and try to enjoy the experience, it is the most exhilarating experience you can have! Looking down as we descended was just so surreal that you can be accused of not really taking it all in and the expanse of it all!
Bear in mind, we are only seeing a small part of the 277 mile stretch of it! The journey down seemed to take forever, and it probably wasnt, perhaps we were in the helicopter about 10 minutes? When you first start the descent, the Colorado River looks smallish, until you get closer, and you realise it is much broader than what you first imagined (well, at that particular point we were at). We landed with a nice smooth touch down, and how satisfying it was to have your feet firmly on the ground again, even though you were 4000 feet below any other form of civilization!
Once you reach the bottom, and step off the helicopter, the heat hits you in the face! The temperature within the inner canyon can be as much as 30°F / 18°C higher than temperatures on the rim. (Summertime highs along the Colorado River can reach 120°F / 49°C) So if going, take something light to cover you up on the rim as there was cool breeze up there, but when down inside the Canyon, the heat is fierce! There were huge bottles full of water down there, with drinking cups for your use (free), and we accepted this gratefully, while looking around this awesome sight! It is very hard to imagine you are on the floor, inside this 7th Wonder of the World! and looking upward to this amazing rock formation! A friendly guide welcomed us and showed us the way down to the Colorado river for our boat ride, and this consisted of a very rough track down some 20 metres of rocky terrain, so take suitable footwear for this part! There we were met by our Captain of a small boat that would take us down the river for a 20 minute trip.
I cant say, this was the most exciting part of the whole trip, but just the fact you are actually cruising along the Colorado River with the rock formations of the Grand Canyon on either side of you is exciting enough! Our Captain did try to make it sound interesting though, and his humour was second to none! The first thing I noticed about the Colorado River is it's very dirty, but our Captain informed us that this is due to the falling water level of the Colorado, hence dirt & rocks falling into the River through erosion, and indeed you can see where the original water line was as you drift along here. We just went down a small part of the river, then our Captain offered to take our photos with our own cameras, with a beautiful backdrop of the rocky surfaces of the Canyon walls. I will treasure this photo as it is my proof I was there!
Much of the vegetation in the inner canyon is typical of that found in Southern deserts: cacti and drought resistant shrubs. Plants include thickets of willow and tamarisk, and our Captain talked to us of the wildlife living there, including bats, bighorn sheep, coyotes, desert cottontails, elk, mountain lions, mule deer, raccoons and squirrels. There is a variety of birds too in the Canyon that includes bald eagles, ravens, golden eagles, great horned owls, peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, white-throated swifts, violet-green swallows, turkey vultures, and wild turkeys. But alas, we never saw anything while down there! He also informed us that at this particular part of the Canyon, one side belonged to the Government and the other side to the Indians.
Now, back to our pier and disembark, to climb back up this rocky path, and would you believe it, when going up this path, there is a Porta loo stuck right in the middle of nowhere! Very handy though, as there is nothing else down there, should you need to spend a penny!
We waited about 5 minutes, happily chatting to the guide who spends his days down there, guiding the helicopters in, and generally looking after the tourists who are brave enough to do this tour, and he gave us a little more history of the Canyon.
We saw our helicopter approaching down into the Canyon (even that is awesome to see), and we were soon climbing aboard again, and ascending the Canyon walls! I dont know if it was just me who felt this, but ascending was a bit more frightening than descending! The helicopter literally hovers very close to the walls, and you feel that if our lady pilot just steered a few yards more to the right, the blades would whack this rocky surface ( but think this is part of the tour, to let you see as closely to the walls as possible! ) I just prayed she was the most experienced helicopter pilot in the World and we would get back up there, without me having a severe panic attack! Again, such an experience, but you are unable to take in the beauty and excitement of it all, for thinking of how scary it is! One good thing, we seemed to reach the top quicker than going down it!
We land back at the aerodrome, in one piece, and then onto our Motor coach (which does 15 minute interval trips), for a short ride to Eagles Point where you can see the shape of a massive eagle in the the rocks. I believe the Indians believe that while this Eagle stands there with its outspread wings, then their nation will always be safe! It takes a little while for your eyes to pick out this bird and once they do, it is quite eerie to see! Because there are no railings, I am afraid I was the one left taking the photos from a safe distance of 10 yards away from the edge, and left the braver ones to get closer! One of our group cleverly crawled up to the edge , then laid on his stomach to be able to look straight down over the edge of this part of the Canyon, something I could never do, as there are even thin cracks (about 6 inches wide) in the ground , where you can look through straight down into the Canyon 4000 feet below, and that was scary enough for me!
The Hualapai Reservation tribe own the tourist centre at Grand Canyon West, a small settlement on the rim 3,600 feet above the river. While there we had our first experience of the new (still being constructed) Grand Canyon Skywalk. Opening, at the end of 2006, but originally scheduled to open in January 2006 but has been set back due to specification changes and design delays. I was pleased by this, as I would have hated being talked into going on that! Visitors will pay $25 to walk along a curved bridge with a glass-bottom walkway projecting 70 feet out over a section of the canyon with near vertical walls, and so look straight down to the Colorado River, 4,000 feet below! Oh the thought makes me break out in a sweat! Even seeing the large placards advertising it, is very scary! If I ever return, I think I will be giving that a miss! Can you imagine being 70 feet out, looking down 4000 feet and nothing to save you should this platform collapse? Who says I dont trust the architects & builders of this monumental attraction when it finally opens!? I will wait till a billion people have tried it first to convince me its safe!
After a quick look round the small Indian reservation, and at some of the Indian ladies goods they were selling, it was time for lunch. The Guano point serves up some nice food, nothing elaborate . salad, potato, coleslaw and spiced beans and a couple of things I could not think what they were, but more than enough to fill our grumbling stomachs, along with drinks (non alcoholic). We ate our lunch al fresco on one of the many bench tables, overlooking the Grand Canyon! What more could you ask for?
Then back on the coach to take us back to the aerodrome to catch our flight back to Las Vegas, and would you believe it? No turbulence coming, but we had a few going back again! Never mind, after what I had dared to do, a little turbulence wasnt going to scare me!
All in all, we were back in our Hotel for about 2pm ..5 hours later! My only regret would be that I wished I had taken more in, but too immense to absorb this Wonder in the short time we had there!
The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking venue that must be visited by everyone at least once in their lifetime. HOWEVER, be forewarned of those vendors who are apparently unconcerned about their reputation due to the transient nature of their clientele.
I had the distinct displeasure of dining at the STEAK HOUSE AT THE GRAND CANYON which is situated just outside of the park on route 180/64 in Tusayan. The food itself was marginal at best. What was truly outstanding was the abysmal service. Our server was a humourless woman who treated us with what I most accurately describe as utter contempt. In retrospect, I should have simply walked out at the first sign of this behavior but having just hiked half way down and up the canyon, hunger, in this case, trumped principle. I was, nevertheless, firmly committed to reflecting my complete dissatisfaction with the service by neglecting to leave a tip. When reviewing my bill, I noticed a line item entitled "SUB TOTAL" which did not in any way resemble a sub total. Upon enquiring, I was advised the amount shown was actually the gratuity. Gratuity suggest to me that I'm grateful for something other than my rapid departure from the establishment. When paying my bill I protested and was abruptly (they've apparently achieved a consistent (low) level of service) directed to the microprint at the bottom of the menu indicating that gratuity is automatically added to the bill. So, as the old saying goes, "let the buyer beware!". This is definitely a classless establishment to be missed at all costs.
Mike Bercik - Ottawa, Ontario Canada
During my recent visit to Las Vegas I decided to book myself on a tour to the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of companies to choose from and I would suggest you do not book your Grand Canyon tour until you get to Vegas. If you are anything like me you might not even want to go there anymore because you are having too much fun in Vegas to spend the best part of a day travelling to one of the 7 Wonders of the World.
I waited until I got to Vegas before I actually booked my trip. There are plenty to chose from and you will find special offers in your hotel and also virtually all souvenir shops along the Strip.
What trip you ultimately chose is down to personal preference. All tours pick you up from your hotel and also drop you there again once youre back in Las Vegas.
If you are expecting me to rattle down the size and dimensions of the Grand Canyon then you are reading the wrong review. Let me just say that its big, really, really BIG. And scary!
I went to Vegas in January, which means that the weather is not quite as open for trips to the Canyon as at other times of the year. The South and North Rim, part of the National Park system in the USA, are situated in Arizona, as is all of the Grand Canyon. Chances are that there is new snow at either of the rims and trips have to be cancelled.
When I first had the idea to go on a day trip to the Grand Canyon (its a given when youre in Vegas, after all, its just screaming out for you to come and visit) I didnt realise that most of the Canyon is actually more than 200 miles from Vegas, the popular South Rim being about 300 miles away with the North Rim even further away.
I checked with a number of companies offering trips to various points in the Canyon. I was told that on the day I wanted to go they had forecast snow and chances of the trip to the South Rim going ahead was pretty slim.
In the end I booked a tip to the not quite so well known West Rim. Unlike the other two tourist areas, the West Rim is not part of the National Parks; it belongs to the Hualapai Indians. They run the little airport as well as the viewing areas at Eagle Point and Guano Point.
Because the trip to the West Rim is a) not so far and b) not as spectacular as the South or North Rim, you will find that the price is lower then that of the other trips. But if you shop around you will find a good price for all of them. Haggle as much as you can I say.
The Grand Canyon West Tour I booked cost me $190 ($50 had to be paid as deposit, the rest when checking in at the airport).
I had booked the tour for the Sunday. My friend and son didnt fancy the trip out to the Canyon. Philip had a few problems due to the smoke in the hotel casino and his asthma flared up a little. He didnt fancy flying that day and wanted to stay in bed, but thats 16 year olds for you. I had booked the first trip of the day (the company offered two trips that Sunday) and the hotel pick up was arranged for 6.30am when a bus would pick me up.
I was a little worried I would oversleep but there was no chance of that. My body was still struggling to adjust to the 8-hour time difference and a 6.30am start was no problem, my body thought it was afternoon anyway.
While I was waiting for the bus to arrive I saw one of the loveliest sun rises. Las Vegas lies in a basin surrounded by mountains and seeing the sun peek from behind the mountains and colour the sky a beautiful red was worth getting up for any day.
I was picked up on time and in my group there were only 7 other people, two people from the UK and 5 from Korea. We got dropped off at Henderson Airport no more than a little airfield/strip where checking procedure started immediately. We all had to pay for the rest of the trip and then had to stand on a set of scales. Very embarrassing but it was necessary as the plane needed exactly enough fuel for the flight and the seat allocation had to be done according to weight so everything was evenly distributed.
The flight in the little Cessna plane was no more than 40 minutes. We followed Lake Mead for a while and I had no idea of the sheer size of the lake, man-made, not natural after the construction of the Hoover Dam.
The plane was very uncomfortable because you were so cramped in your seats. But whatever the level of being uncomfortable, the scenery and landscapes we were flying over made up for it big time.
When we reached the edge of the Grand Canyon our pilot tilted the plane slightly so you had a nice view down into the canyon and even take some photos from the air. It was certainly breathtaking to see the canyon from the air.
We landed at a small airport on the Hualapai Reservation. Our pilot told us that they are hoping to extend the airport soon and have a second runway and bigger terminal building. At the moment it is not more than a shack. But it has restrooms, a souvenir shop and coffee and soft drinks dispenser.
Because our tour was pre-booked we didnt need to pay for anything else and were given a coupon with tear off portions. Every time you did one of the items printed on the coupon that part was taken off.
To reach the canyons West Rim we had to board a bus that took us along some dirt roads to a stop near an Indian Village. Here we had a tour of all the different American Indians houses, wigwams, tepees and more. We had a proper Indian guide explaining it all to us, the difference between the tribes and so on. And boy did he look like a picture perfect red Indian. When you see Native Americans on TV thats what he looked like. Shame I didnt take a picture of him.
This stop is also known as Eagle Point one of the faces of the canyon looks like an eagle in flight, hence the name. It will get pointed out to where this Bald Eagle apparently is in the rock face and yes, with a little imagination you can actually see it, too.
We had only about 15 minutes to spend near the canyon rim after the tour but because there is nothing really to do, 15 minutes is plenty.
The beauty of the West Rim is that there are no restriction, platforms, barriers or whatever to stop you. You can move towards to edge of the canyon as far as your guts will allow. I had shaky knees all the time because I didnt trust those rocks not to break away. Just be very careful because if you slip or otherwise lose your balance its a 4000 feet drop straight down into the canyon. There is nothing to stop you going over the edge.
Next and last stop on the tour is Guano Point, named so because there used to be a Guano mine at some point. This is where the West Rim gets really interesting. Again, no barriers to stop you from falling over or slipping or anything. But you have a fantastic view over the canyon and Colorado River.
There were plenty of opportunities to take photos and with a little luck even get some daredevil shots by creeping almost on your knees to the edge and holding onto a rock for dear life while holding your camera over the edge.
While we were at Guano Point we had the opportunity to have a light snack. It was included in the price of the tour so we made use of it. The food was nothing to write home about but it filled a hole in my stomach considering that I had got up before 6am and left without breakfast it may only have been 10.30am but I did feel a little peckish. I had some coleslaw, corn on the cob and what looked like shredded beef. It was barbeque beef but cut very fine and tasted quite sweet. They only had hot drinks on offer and the water for the coffee and tea was barely lukewarm. But we didnt go to the Grand Canyon for the food.
Native Indian women had set up stalls with hand-made silver jewellery but as nice at it was, I couldnt find anything I like enough to part with my money.
The bus that dropped you at Guano point normally comes by every 30 minutes so if and when you are finished with your photo taking, snacking and looking at the jewellery you can board the bus and get taken back to the airport building.
To say that the whole area is desolate would be kind. Not even the Hualapai Indians themselves live in this area; they all live about 60-80 miles away and travel to the West Rim every day because its their business. The whole West Rim area is flat as a pancake until you come to the canyon bit where you have this really big hole in the ground.
We met up with our pilot at the airport and while we were waiting for the rest of the troupe to return, the Koreans were a little slower than the couple from Birmingham (but living in Florida).
We studied with awe the placards on the wall announcing a viewing platform at Eagle Point. What they are doing is building a glass-bottom viewing platform where you can walk out over the edge of the Grand Canyon and stare 4000+ feet straight down into the abyss. It looks absolutely fascinating but just looking at it as a drawing on the wall gave me the heebie-jeebies.
Once our little group was complete again our pilot took us all back home to Las Vegas. The flight back was a lot quicker simply because we didnt swing over the canyon and take a detour for photos. But we did get a good view of the Hoover Dam. I never expected it to be in such a tight area and had imagined it to be a lot bigger. But then again, I was up in the sky looking down on it. Standing on the dam is probably a lot different and gives you a better perspective of the size of the thing. But that has to wait until I return to Las Vegas another time.
Well, the whole trip took no more than 6 hours and I was back at my hotel by 1.30pm. The rest of the Sunday was still ahead of me and there was still time to do more that day.
I am glad I went to the Grand Canyon. Everyone should see it at least once. Im also glad I chose to visit the West Rim. It is less commercial and you can still feel the size of the Grand Canyon without having to share a viewing platform with hundreds of other tourists. As silly as it sounds, there are hardly any sounds and you really feel like you are one with nature.
A West Rim Grand Canyon tour with lunch at Guano point will take about 6-7 hours hotel to hotel. It is certainly worth it. There are plenty of companies offering trips and because there are so many you can expect a reduction in price if you haggle a little or go from one company to the next.
Will I go again? I doubt it very much. Despite being one of the wonders of the world and on everyones list of things to see and do before they are 30 (or dead) I can now say that Ive been, done it and although I dont have the t-shirt, what I have are lovely memories, some great pictures, still shaky knees when I think about how close to the edge I walked and a certificate telling me that I visited the Grand Canyon West. And if you think about it, all it really is is a big hole in the ground.
It is easiest to fly to the little airport and then take a bus to the canyon. But if you really want to drive all the way out to the West Rim, you should follow Highway 93 for about 120, past Hoover Dam and get directions. But why drive when you can fly?
For more information try www.destinationgrandcanyon.com
Nowhere desrves the description "breathtaking" more than The Grand Canyon, which is easily the most amazing place Ive ever been to. (And considering some of the places Ive been fortunate enough to visit so far, thats saying something.)
Theres been plenty of Top Ten Places You Must See Before You Die lists written over the years, and I think The Grand Canyon has been in pretty much every one of them. Reviewing such an awesome natural monument is almost impossible, but Ill do my humble best
I visited the Grand Canyon in January 2002 a group of four young guys on their first trip to America. We drove from Los Angeles up to Las Vegas (couldnt stand either of those cities personally, but then I might have liked LA more if Id had a chance to see more of it), stayed in a Travel Lodge for just $30 for the night ($7.5 per person wasnt bad even if the breakfast they gave you in the price was a stale cookie and carton of stale orange juice!), and got a trip to the Grand Canyon for about $150 (cant remember the exact price). This trip included being picked up in the morning by coach and taken to the aerodrome, flying in to the Grand Canyon in a 10-seater Cessna, a buffet lunch near a Native Indian reservation, and the return journey about 6 hours in total. (Also on offer was a helicopter trip, which I think was about $200 this didnt offer the lunch etc and lasted about 4 hours in total, but it did take you right into the GC, so if Id had the money I would have liked to do both trips.) The company that offered these trips was right next to the Travel Lodge, but you wouldnt be able to walk down the main part of Vegas for very long without being offered a similar package.
The coach came on time and it was only about 15-20 minutes before we were at the aerodrome. We had our picture taken in front of the Cessna with the pilot before boarding the plane, which while obviously being another money-spinner (I think it was $10) for them did actually make a very nice souvenir. Ive never been in a Cessna before and boy was it interesting! If, like me, youve only ever been on large commercial airliners, youre in for a bit of a shock. The tiny plane is buffeted by the slightest winds and of course is much more prone to air pockets, so every few seconds it felt like you were going to drop out of the sky. It was fantastic! It really was the most amazing ride of my life.
There was on-board commentary about what was below us, which at one point early on included the Hoover Dam. (On the way back the pilot opted for U2 instead, which wasnt bad either ) The commentary was quite interesting although to be honest the feeling of flying / being about to fall out of the sky, combined with the mind-blowing view, would have been more than enough to keep your senses overloaded, let alone busy. Seeing these amazing aerial views of the Grand Canyon will be something I will never forget.
Upon landing there was short wait for the coach, which took us to a sort of large, open cafeteria that served traditional Native Indian food (at least that was what they claimed, and I have no particular reason not to believe them anyway, it tasted good). It was eat-as-much-as-you-want too, though stuffing yourself would not be particularly recommended as looking over the side of any of the immense cliffs is severely vertigo-inducing. Out of the coach load I was with, only myself and one other person were brave (stupid?) enough to stand right on the edge. I think my bravery lasted, ooh, at least 2 seconds before I felt an overwhelming need to step back! Well, that was the first time I think I managed the amazing feat of 5 seconds the second time round Apart from breathtaking scenery everywhere you looked, the local Indians also has some handicraft jewellery, dreamcatchers, and so on -to sell. From what I saw it looked pretty good quality and fairly priced, but what they were selling wasnt really my sort of thing. Now if theyd been selling carvings of eagles and suchlike, I might have taken more notice. (Yes, I am strange. But I dont care.)
The Tour Guide on the coach on the way back (with another stop to survey one of the most impressive chasms) told us a little about this history of the local tribe (she was a member of the tribe herself), which unfortunately I cant remember the name of :-( - all I can remember is it wasnt one of the very well known ones I think it was either Hopi or "Havasupai" and then we went back and plunged through the air again in the little Cessna.
I cant describe my overall impression in simple words, even as Im typing this huge gestures are flying from my hands (and believe me, that makes typing rather difficult ). Its one of the most impressive things you will ever see, and like most impressive things, seeing pictures of it just doesnt convey anything truly pertinent about how it looks when youre actually there.
Superlatives fail me. I simply can't recommend enough that you visit The Grand Canyon if you ever get the chance.
?Trin Tragula was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot, and she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake. "Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day. and so he built the total perspective vortex--just to show her, and into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it. To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford is a sense of proportion.? (Douglas Adams, the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy) The grand canyon, may not be the whole infinity of creation, or a fairy cake but it certainly puts size into perspective, and as for a sense of proportion well??.. The grand canyon is undoubtedly one of the true natural wonders of the world. the rock formations are known the world over, as the red strata is one of the most photographed areas in the world. This stratum shows millions years of evolution and erosion, the inaccessibility of some of the pictographs (cave drawings) are proof of that. But however many pictures you see, however many holiday programmes you watch, you could even know every statistic there is to know on what is essentially an enormous hole in the ground, but the reaction when you first see it, is indescribable it is very difficult not to gasp in amazement and awesome may be a horrid
word, but for the canyon, it works. When we visited we took a rather long way round, we drove around the North rim up to the far end of the Canyon, where we stayed in Page on the shore of Lake Powell. The two extremes of the Canyon are marked by two dams, the Glen Canyon dam in the East which forms Lake Powell and Hoover Dam (as repaired by Christopher Reeve in Superman!) in the West forming Lake Mead. Now, the Canyon itself is 150 miles long, so I really don?t understand why the majority of visitors chose to visit only a 3 mile area of it, which is on the South Rim about half way down where you will find the Grand Canyon Village. There are several ways of seeing the Canyon; one of the most popular is by Helicopter or Plane. We didn?t do this but I understand from many reports, this can be a little unnerving. I think you?re fine if love flying, but if you suffer from motion sickness it can get very turbulent, I think they plan on cleaning out the machines fairly regularly. The prices for this seem to range from $150 - $250 depending on the length of trip. Then there is by raft, this is one of the ways I would really love to see the Grand Canyon. The main issue is getting out again, there are only a couple of stops along the way where you can actually get access to the river so they offer trips of 3 days minimum or 7 days takes you down to the end of the line at lake Mead. The other issue with this area of the canyon is the white water so if you don?t want to do rapids, don?t do it. I was pregnant at the time of our visit so this option was out, but even if I hadn?t been you have to book places on the raft trips upwards of 18 months beforehand. My cousin did an independent canoe trip through and it took him 2 years to get the permit to allow him to
do it, as the number of visitors allowed within the rim is strictly regulated. However there is another option, as I mentioned earlier we stayed in Page and you can take a one day float (no rapids) down the Glen Canyon which is not as vast, but just as beautiful and costs (from memory) $50. These can be booked in Page itself and you do not need to pre-book. We did this and it was a wonderful day, the peace of floating down the river, seeing the wild life and rock formations and after just a short walk some 4000 year old pictographs. They provided lunch. The whole day was truly amazing, and fine for pregnant ladies. You get out at Lees Ferry, which is at the entrance to the Grand Canyon and is where the other rafting trips start. Then there are the options that you can take from the Canyon village, you can walk down into the rim, which if you plan on staying overnight you will need an overnight permit but if you do this you could stay at Phantom Range, if you don?t want to walk down you can take a mule. It is however a two day trip to go down to the valley floor, although the distance isn?t huge, it?s a really steep climb and you need to make sure you are properly prepared, copious amounts of water are essential as dehydration is the biggest problem. Mainly because this is desert country so it is hot. Having visited in the middle of summer some of the pictures of the Canyon covered in snow are very beautiful but does looks very bizarre. At this point I would recommend anyone who is interested in hiking, mules or planes to also have a read of the Grand Canyon review by Trampus, who describes her hair raising activities in excellent style. Daily life at the Canyon village is fairly predictable. Everybody wakes up fairly early, before sun rise to see the sun come up on the Canyon, the colours change subs
tantially and dramatically depending on the time of day, and photographers are out in force throughout the day, we are fairly good photographers and it has to be said all the photos we took from the Canyon rim were well below our usual standard, and I think this is a fairly common experience so it is worth buying some postcards or something similar while you are there. The most popular time for photographs is of course Sunset, when the colours are at their most vibrant, and it is very orange. Most visitors to the Canyon do not venture down inside the rim and simply gaze in wonder from the edge at the village, so at sunset in particular guard your spot early as from the various lookout points there is a huge number of people lined up with their cameras ready for the nightly show. Accommodation in the village is actually fairly reasonable for a National Park, there are the usual sorts of hotel available and naturally you pay a supplement for a canyon view, there are 4 campsites within the park and any lodging is booked up way in advance, so you do have to get in early. The website address is www.grand.canyon.national-park.com and this has all the details you will need, although a straight forward search gives loads of options so it is worth having a good surf before you book. The Canyon village is as I mentioned earlier only a very small part of the Canyon itself and I would strongly urge any visitor not to make it their sole focus. For me the most enjoyable part was not the Village, which I would not have missed for anything but the stay in Page beforehand. Page is on the shore of Lake Powell and at the entrance to the Glen Canyon, although is not as vast as the Grand Canyon it is very beautiful. The rock formation within the Glen Canyon is much softer than in the Grand Canyon, a bit like the difference between the Dolomi
tes and the Alps for any of you who may have crossed them in Europe. There is much more to do in Page and it is cheaper, not being within the National Park. The view from the hotel room genuinely does not look real, it is like a picture of utter tranquillity and the changes in colour throughout the day is the only thing that reminds you it is not a painting. The other noticeable difference in Page from the canyon village is the colour of the river, there is a very definite difference between the blue of the water and the red of the rock. However, the river running through the Canyon is the Colorado which literally translates as ?Colour Red? and not without good reason, we were very lucky as we arrived on a blue day and then we had torrential downpour of rain, which disturbed all the sediment within the river, so the following day it was red or just dirty whichever way you want to think of it. This only took effect from the entrance to the Grand Canyon, and apparently can take several weeks to clear. From the Canyon village the river is barely visible, and I love water so the main reason for preferring Page to the village was the fact that the river was so accessible. The Grand Canyon is just that, very Grand, very majestic but the Glen Canyon is smaller, softer and I feel more beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to read this review and I look forward to your comments. ©MHam 2004 also posted on ciao
We visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in July 03. As we only had a day to explore we decided to take the cape Royal Drive in order to see as much as possible in the time we had. Cape Royal Drive is an excellent drive to take when visiting the North Rim. The drive is approximately 23 miles each way, and it is not a loop. You can either drive down and take each view point as it comes or drive straight to the end and then stop off on the way back, we chose the former. Our first stop was Point Imperial which is located at the end of a three mile spur road. Point Imperial is the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet and overlooks the northeast side of the park. There are picnic areas and toilets located near the parking area. From the car park you walk to a railed overlook, which offers truly outstanding views. From here you can see the Vermillion Cliffs and Echo Cliffs which are way off into the distance. Look down and you can see straight down to the bottom of the canyon, awesome. If you can tear yourself away from this view you can then travel back down the spur to Vista Encantadora where again there are picnic tables, but no toilets. Again you will see magnificent views. The next stop on the drive is Roosevelt Point, which is one of the few places you can see the Colorado River running through the canyon. This vista has even more fantastic views where you can really see the vastness of the canyon itself. The next stop, Walhalla Overlook, is quite a ways down the trail, but in my view offered some of the best views of all. Don?t be fooled and stay near the parking area where there are good views, but walk along to the end of the parking section and there is a pathway to another railed overview. Here you can see for miles. It is truly breathtaking. If you can pull yourself away travel a little bit further and you come to Cape Royal. There is a large car park here with toilets and picnic areas. There are sever
al options you can take here. You can take the Angel?s Window trail which leads you to stunning views--yes, more. Here the view takes its name from a triangular hole in the cliffs through which you can see the Colorado River snaking through the canyon. It is beautiful. The other option is to take the trail which takes you above Angel?s Window and give some of the best views the canyon has to offer. You have travelled 23 miles to get here, but believe me it would be worthwhile driving 200 miles for this view. It is spectacular. All the trails on this drive are short and easily walked. We went at the beginning of July and didn?t encounter any queues. In fact at most of the stops we were the only people there. Not sure if it is always like this at this time, or we were very lucky.
Grand Canyon National Park is one of the United States' oldest national parks and is located in Arizona. Within the park lies the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the major natural wonders of the world. The park covers 1,902 mi² (4927 km²). Most visitors to the park come to the South Rim, arriving on Arizona Highway 64. The Highway enters the park through the South Entrance, near Tusayan, Arizona, and heads eastward, leaving the park through the East Entrance. Park headquarters are at Grand Canyon Village, a short distance from the South Entrance, being also the center of the most popular viewpoints. Some thirty miles of the South Rim are accessible by road. A much smaller venue for tourists is found on the North Rim, accessed by Arizona Highway 67. There is no connection by road between the two, except via the Navajo Bridge, entailing a five-hour drive. The rest of the Grand Canyon is extremely rugged and remote, although many places are accessible by pack trail and backcountry roads.