The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part II

Sedona via Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon 

Today was a much shorter drive, though very different from yesterday as we were driving through the snow that had fallen overnight. After a lovely breakfast and snapping a few shots of Steller Jays and Dark Eyed Juncos who were breakfasting outside on monkey nuts  we were on our way to the Grand Canyon. Would it live up to the hype I wondered? Or would the reality fall flat.

(please click on an image to enlarge)

We continued along 89A through Oak Creek Canyon weaving its way up and around the mountains. At the top we pulled into a viewing place to take a few photos of the canyon and the road on which we had just driven. I am so glad that they clear the roads in this part of the world!

A winding road

By noon we’d arrived at Tusayan the town just before the south entrance to the park and we stopped to visit the IMAX theatre to watch a film about the Canyon which is well worth doing if you haven’t been there before. Though I must be the only person on earth who suffers travel sickness whilst watching these films! I have to close my eyes to stop myself from feeling dizzy.

On the road to the Canyon
On the road to the Canyon, North Rim in the distance

The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison – beyond description, absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world. Let this great wonder of nature remain as it is now. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s’ children and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see. Don’t let them skin this wonderful country – as they will try to do” ~ Theodore Roosevelt, May 6, 1903

Now we were in the park and following the one-way system to our hotel – El Tovar – where we had booked for the night. It is a  National Historic Landmark and is right on the South Rim with views of the canyon from rooms on the northern wing.

The hotel is made from native stone and Oregon pine and the design is based on European hunting lodges and has a world-renowned restaurant along with canyon views.

After settling in to our room, we went to have our first look at the view and then find the shuttle bus which would take us to Hermits Rest which is closed to private vehicles.

El Tovar
El Tovar
Hopi House
Hopi House

There are no words to describe your first view of the grand Canyon. Photographs do not do it justice, you cannot capture the multiple layers and colours and the sheer scale of the size and form. It overwhelms the senses and all you can do is stand and stare. Take time to pause on the rim and take in Earth’s history.

Hindu Ampitheatre
Hindu Ampitheatre
Hindu Ampitheatre - close-up
View from Hermit’s rest

Don’t rush your visit to the Canyon. I know some people do a half day trip from Las Vegas, but it is worth spending at least one night there. During the afternoon we used the shuttle bus along the 7 miles to Hermits Rest and stopped off at different viewpoints along the way. You can of course walk the trail along the rim, but there are unpaved sections and while we were there it was very icy and snow covered so unless you have adequate walking boots I would advise using the bus.

The Colorado River Runs Through It
The Colorado River Runs Through It

Visit the Kolb Studio, perched on the edge of the rim, the Victorian home of the Kolb Brothers who created a lasting legacy of adventure, exploration, family love, and amazing Grand Canyon photography or hike down Bright Angel Trail, if only to the first tunnel, if you are brave and it is not covered in snow!

The Bright Angel Trail
The Bright Angel Trail
Pinyon Pines cling to the edge
Pinyon Pines cling to the edge

And if time allows the genuine artistry of Native American jewellery deserves a look in the better gift shops at the Hopi House or the Watchtower. Check for a genuine silver hallmark and the quality of stones in the lovely silver and turquoise jewellery. Hopi rugs, pottery and Kachina dolls are also good souvenirs. Finally we returned to the Village just before sunset around 6:30 before heading off into the El Tovar restaurant for a well-deserved steak.

Sunset on the South Rim
Sunset on the South Rim

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

34 thoughts on “The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part II”

  1. My visit to the Grand Canyon was, unfortunately, a rushed one. I stayed overnight, even though the hotel was closed for the winter or for something. (Long story, fuzzy details.)

    I left in the morning and got a few nice photos, with the canyon filled with clouds. It was so cold that I could only get in a few photos. I think they got water damaged from a flood my basement.

    If I had a choice between the canyon and either Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, I would pick either Bryce or Zion. I’ve visited both, but got to hike around in Bryce. That was pretty cool. I didn’t take near enough photos, and, in any event, I think I lost them in a divorce.

  2. “It overwhelms the senses and all you can do is stand and stare.” You are so right about that! Very interesting to see the snow (and icicles!) in your Grand Canyon photos (it was June for me) and to see the driving approach (I took the train). I never did get around to posting my photos of the canyon, apart from one or two.

  3. I agree no photograph ever does it justice. Even looking at it “live” my brain had difficulty translating what my eyes were seeing. We had the opposite problem on the path. It was so hot the tarmac was melting and stuck in the soles of our boots.

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