We saved the best for last and spent a day at the nation’s second most popular National Park, The Grand Canyon. Everyone has seen pictures of the magnificent canyon carved by the Colorado River. It is truly one of Mother Nature’s works of art and there are not enough superlatives to adequately describe it. Geological processes formed the rugged landscape over billions of years through shifting of teutonic plates, uplifting of layers of sedimentary rock, and erosion of softer rock layers to form cliffs, buttes, and pinnacles.
Coming from the north, we entered the park through the east entrance, which is used less than the south entrance near I-40. The road from the east into Canyon Village is closed to commercial vehicles and only private vehicles are allowed. There were small jeep tours, but the large bus loads of tourists were absent.
The first view of the canyon was where the historic rock watchtower is located, great for picture-taking. After that we stopped at other well-known viewpoints. Unfortunately, the sky clouded up making the canyon dark and difficult to photograph. The areas in the sun were lit up and better for viewing and photos.
When we reached Canyon Village, we had to decide whether to call it a day or figure out the shuttle system to visit the popular west side. Mo said, “When will we get another chance to do it?”
There are two shuttle lines. The blue line circles through the village to the various lodges, shops, campgrounds, and whatever. You ride that and transfer to the red line, which is the only shuttle service allowed in the popular scenic trail area.
The shuttle bus drivers were friendly and knowledgeable and helped people get to where they wanted to go. The village was far larger than I expected with numerous buildings. There were suprisingly large numbers of international tourists on tours.
Most people were casual sightseeing tourists. There is a ‘rim trail’ that can be hiked and bicycles can be rented. Tours, helicopters, and all manner of tourist services are available. The views at Mohave Point and Hermits Rest were especially spectacular. The clouds had cleared away and the pink and purple hues of the canyon were evident.
The trouble with going somewhere like this is you want to come back. The Grand Canyon is one of earth’s most powerful and inspiring landscapes. I am already making my list of the things I missed that I want to do next time.