I’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for as long as I can remember and I finally did this past July. Back in 1908 U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument.
“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 now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to 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.”
These words ring true today and will for generations. I urge you to visit this awe inspiring sight if you have not already. The Grand Canyon is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is thought to be somewhere between 6 million to 70 million years old.
The view from the top of the rim is breathtaking. Hiking down into the canyon you experience the whole canyon and witness the changing colors and different layers and landscape changing right before your eyes. Changing layers of alpine forest, vermillion cliffs down through red rock, limestone and sandstone. Here are some of my favorite images of the canyon…
To access the Grand Canyon you can to fly into Las Vegas, Flagstaff or Phoenix and drive to the Canyon. There are two sides you can visit, the north rim or the south rim. From Vegas, the north rim is a little over an hour, the south rim is about four hours. My boyfriend and I flew into Las Vegas, picked up a rental car and drove from there to the South Rim. We really wanted to stay at El Tovar, a hotel operated by the National Park Service, in a suite overlooking the canyon, but learned while planning this trip that rooms start booking one year and a day in advance. After all, nearly five million people visit the park every year. I opted for the only other available option close to the south rim, the Holiday Inn Express. It was probably the most overpriced Holiday Inn I’ve stayed at, but in the end, those views and the proximity to the park entrance (only about a mile) made it worthwhile.
We woke up at the crack of dawn to begin the hike down into the canyon. We watched the sunrise at Mather Point and then quickly headed over to the Bright Angel Trail Head to begin the decent. I really wanted to do the South Kaibab Trail, but that trail is very exposed and has no water available. I knew that this would not be a good choice for a mid-July hike, so we went with the Bright Angel Trail since it has both water and shade available. During the summer, I would recommend starting your hike as early as possible to beat the heat. The South Rim is open 24 hours. We were up at 4:30 am and arrived in time to get a spot to watch the sun rise. We began our trek down the canyon immediately after that. The heat will start to get unbearable by around 10 am, so the sooner you are down and up, the better.
After we finished the hike, we had a late lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge. They just added an ice cream parlor, so that’s a real treat after a hike into the heat of the canyon. After lunch, we spent the afternoon walking along the Rim Trail the rim trail snakes along the edge of the canyon and you’ll get amazing view after view. Just before dusk, we took the shuttle to Yaki Point to watch the sunset over the canyon. It was beautiful spot and if you get there early you can stake out nice place to sit, relax and enjoy the colors of the sunset. There are some trails and points, like Yaki Point, that you must use the shuttles to access. The shuttle service is very convenient and easy to use. Times vary depending on season or time of day, but they are usually 15-30 minutes during the hours of sunrise to sunset.
Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to visit this beautiful place. I’ll leave you with a few tips of what to pack if you plan a summer day hike down the canyon. You can also find detailed information on the National Parks website.
- Water!!! – Take as much as you can comfortably carry. I brought a one liter camel back. I also added Gatorade powder to my camel back to help keep hydrated and keep my electrolytes up.
- Salty Snacks – these will give you fuel and help you retain water.
- Lunch – sandwiches, fruit, energy bars
- Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, bandana – there is very little shade, so you’ll want protection.
- Layers – it will be chilly in the morning and sweltering by 10 am.
- Shoes – don’t wear flip flops or open toe shoes, the trail is dusty and rocky in area. I’d recommend a solid pair of running or trail running shoes or light weight hiking boots.