Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cross Country Adventure - Day 13 - The Grand Canyon

Day 13 started very early with a ninety minute drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. Our hope was that we could spend several hours at the South Rim before the worst of the heat of the day. An extra benefit of our plan was that while there were other people who had the same idea, there weren't the crowds that we had been warned about.
Mather Point 

A layer of cloud in the distance made for a hazy view to start.

But it soon cleared to reveal the true majesty of the canyon. 

We took a gentle stroll along the South Rim Trail, taking in the stunning vistas.  

The rock layers in the canyons have formed over millions of years. A Trail of Time exhibit along the Rim Trail displays samples of the different rocks forms from the various eras. The granite rock is estimated to be 1,713 million years old. 

While the Carbon Canyon Limestone is a mere 780 million years old!

The Hopi House
Along the Rim Trail there are several historic buildings. The Hopi House, built in 1905, was always meant to showcase Indian Arts, but it was built in the style of a Hopi dwelling and in the early years the upper floors were actually used to house the Hopi craftsmen and artists. Nowadays the whole building is used to display the high quality (and high price!) jewelry, rugs, pottery and paintings.

El Tovar Hotel
The rim is also not short of accommodation. There are lodges, cabins, and the El Tovar Hotel which also opened in 1905 and is considered the finest of the National Parks Historic Lodges. 
From the viewpoints you get a good sense of how deep the canyon is. 

The beginning of the trail down can be clearly seen 
There is a trail down to the bottom of the canyon. At any other time of the year I might have attempted to walk at least part of it, but given it is recommended that you allow at least twice the amount of time you walked down to walk back up, that you don't hike between 10 and 4 due to the heat, and that only seriously fit hikers attempt to walk all the way, we decided to just enjoy the views from the top.

The trail then meanders through the canyon
The Canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and 1 mile deep. Along the Rim Trail there are plenty of places to stop and rest and admire the extensive view. Some of the local wildlife however seemed more interested in the tourists. This squirrel didn't seem the least camera shy!

There are shuttle buses which operate alongside the seven mile Rim Trail between Bright Angel Trailhead and Hermits Rest for those who don't want to walk. Originally we planned to walk to Hermits Rest and then take a shuttle bus back, but when we saw the lines for the bus at the first two stops we quickly changed our mind. The buses only run every fifteen-twenty minutes and at both stops there were many more people than could fit on a bus. The bus stops had limited amount of shade which meant a considerable wait in the ferocious sun. Not a pleasant prospect, so we made do with only walking half way to Hermits Rest and then walked back. 

Ideally, we would have made the trip in the fall or spring, when the heat is not so much of an issue, but overall it was well worth braving the heat for the stupendous views.

Mel writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense. For more information about her books visit her website, or sign up for her newsletter at  


  1. The first time Mark saw the canyon, he was amazed. You hear about it, think you're prepared, but the reality is always so much better!

  2. That first time is always the best. I had been to the Grand Canyon before (about 40 years ago!) so it didn't have quite the same impact seeing it this time, but even so, it is still amazing. It was my daughter's first visit and while she was impressed, I think seeing Canyonlands two days earlier took some of the awe of the Grand Canyon away for her because she thought Canyonlands was so beautiful.