My second time visiting the Grand Canyon and yet it was every bit as exciting and nerve-wracking as the first. By dedicating our holiday to road-tripping the USA, it meant we swapped out the so-called “tourist trap rip-off” Western Rim of the Grand Canyon – a convenient option for those staying near Las Vegas, for the expansive South Rim, which is where most visitors come to experience this true geological phenomenon. 30 km wide, 450 km long and 1.8 km deep – I am pretty sure entire Australian cities could fit in this massive gaping hole in the ground. EASY.
The Grand Canyon is DEFINITELY the most difficult place to capture – a photo cannot justify the infinite number of ridges and valleys hurtling into the distance, nor the different shades of reddened earth, having each witnessed a different epoch of the Earth’s history all the way from 6 million years ago. It’s when you’re standing at the top of each lookout, that you realise just how unfathomably powerful and timeless the forces of nature are. How can a mere RIVER (that only looks like a trickle from up here) carve A HUGE CANYON in the ground?!
ONE DAY IN GRAND CANYON ITINERARY
The South Rim is really easy to visit and tourist-friendly. With an overnight stopover in the famous Route 66 town of Williams, it’s a simple drive north to the Visitor Centre where free tourist shuttles run all year around (fewer routes in Winter) to all the major scenic points. The map (here) will guarantee an easy, systematic trip through the best vistas, and so the majority of our day was a combination of driving and stopping at each lookout. SPOILER: THEY ALL LOOK SO DIFFERENT!!
Blessed with clear blue skies, and an overnight snowfall that dressed the canyon with strokes of white, we strolled to the first point, Mather Point and heading off on the easy, stroller-friendly Rim Trail. It was amazing to feel the contrast between my last visit in the middle of the scorching August heat, and this Wintry experience of treading through the snow covered path, with the canyon dropping down over 1.8km (1 mile) just by your side. After about an hour of posing with the snow, making snow angels, and a few mishaps slipping on the ice, we made it to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum.
Taking the orange Kaibab/Rim Route bus, we stopped at Yaki Point and Pipe Creek Vista. At these points, you can take the incredible full-day South Kaibab trail that take you right to the BOTTOM OF THE GRAND CANYON, next to the Colorado river. This is DEFINITELY something I am coming back to do in future! Or if I take the lazy option and ride the mules that take you straight to the bottom too hehe 😛
Lucky for us, by midday, Hermits Road, which boasts the best viewpoints, had been reopened despite the heavy snowfall last night – definitely appreciating the hardworking snow ploughs! The red Hermits Rest Route bus normally runs but is closed during Winter so we could drive our car up there instead. We made a few quick photo stops at all the major vistas, Mohave Point, Hopi Point, Powell Point and Maricopa Point.
Driving up to Page (our next destination) from the Grand Canyon was perfect, as it meant we were able to spend the rest of the day exploring more of the viewpoints on Desert View Drive. Yep – we pretty much spent the whole day driving ONLY A QUARTER of the rim of the Grand Canyon. Grand View Point, Moran Point, Navajo Point, and lastly, Desert View Point offered spectacular 360 degree panoramas. Desert View Point was particularly memorable as it gave a generous view of the frozen Colorado River below – but be warned it’s SO SO SO WINDY AND COLD!! We literally ran away after our photo rounds and we’d taken enough time soaking in the view.
One day is enough to see all the main points in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, but I wouldn’t hesitate coming back for the third time and hiking down to the Colorado River, doing some white water rafting, riding some mules, and camping 🙂