Arizona, , USA
Stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon and it is hard to fathom its size. As the sun sets, colors change from dusky pink to lavendar, light and shadow play among the other-worldly ridges, and you are left speechless. A lone tree clings to what seems the edge of the world, and the view is perfected. When I went with my family, I just wanted to stand there and try to take it in but it seemed no length of time did it justice.
The south rim is where most tourists go, because the north rim is a grueling, winding drive away. Hopi Point on the south rim, on Hermit Rd, is a good place to go at sunset, as long as you don't mind the crowds. The Abyss, also on Hermit Rd, is an awesome stop, with a sheer 3,000-ft drop to the Tonto Plateau, a wide terrace of sandstone layers deep down in the canyon.
On Desert View Drive, Grandview offers a breathtaking panorama, with views of the rock formations called Vishnu Temple and Krishna Shrine. Lipan Point, between The Village and Desert View, is also good, because you can see the Colorado River make a wide turn here around the broad beach at Unkar Delta and view every eroded layer of the canyon. You may even see rafts bobbling in the rapids if your eyesight is good! Hawks and raptors migrate over the canyon here in the autumn.
For a short hike, head to the Bright Angel Trail, originally a bighorn sheep path, where you can see the little things- flowers, fossils, brightly-colored birds, lizards scuttling from one cactus bush to another, and maybe even a bighorn sheep. Mule deer are everywhere- be careful not to go near them because they are aggressive. Also, keep an eye on your feet so you don't step in any unpleasant surprises! Remember, it can be too hot to hike this trail in mid-summer. Also, going up is a whole lot harder than walking down, so pace yourself accordingly!
Another great hike is South Kaibab Trail, which starts at Yaki Point. The trail affords some great vistas as you round each curve. You can return via the easier Bright Angel Trail.
A nice place to visit is the El Tovar hotel. You can walk here from The Village along the paved Rim Trail in the direction of Maricopa Point. They have wicker rocking chairs on their huge balcony, where you can peer over the rim and behold the glorious canyon. You could splurge and have dinner here.
While you're up at the Grand Canyon, don't miss out on Cameron! Take Route 64, and stop at the scenic stops along the way. You will see the canyon from new, beautiful angles each time. Climb the tower and you can see the Colorado River, the roaring river that carved the canyon over the last 2 billion years! Views from the Cameron trading Post are gorgeous too. For eighty years, trade has taken place here. The Navajo Indians used to swap sheep wool and pinon nuts for cloth, tobacco, and canned food. Now the area is a mini-town. Behind the gallery, check out the lovely gardens where there's a picnic table made of a single slab of sandstone! Make sure you have a Navajo Taco, a golden circle of frybread, piled with chiles, beans, lettuce, and cheese. You won't believe your eyes!
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
It costs $25 per car to enter the park. Parking is free once you've paid to enter, and the lots where you'll most likely find a spot are: the general store near Yavapai Lodge, and the Maswik Transportation Center where the shuttles leave.
To get to Cameron, take the East Rim Rd from the Grand Canyon's south rim (Route 64). Then head north for one mile on Hwy 89.
The roads within the Grand Canyon are crowded in summer. Take the free shuttle instead, which goes along Hermit Rd, The Village Route, and Kaibab Trail Route.
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