Our drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon took us about an hour and a half. Once we got out of town, we drove virtually alone through miles of pine forests, changing to wide open prairie-like areas until we connected up with the 64 highway into Grand Canyon. At one point, I looked down at how fast I was going and was surprised to see Indie was up over 90 mph. She rides so smoothly it is easy to forget my lead foot. At that point, I just pushed the pedal a tiny bit more and Indie broke her first 100!
With the Labor Day crowds gone, it took no time at all for us to get through the main gates into the park, find our campsite and get the lay of the land that is the South Rim. It is not really possible to see all of the Grand Canyon in a Day, so given our overall road trip route, the South Rim offered the best vantage point for us this trip. The GC is over 700 miles long and 10 miles wide.
We couldn’t set up camp until noon, so after confirming our reservation at the campground, we went to the Visitors Center and got some information on the area, watched a short movie about the GC, purchased a National Parks Passport, and promptly stamped them with the GC park stamp and date. I felt like a kid at Epcot Center, where you get to go around the different countries and get your passport stamped! Fun!
There are about 4 different routes along the South Rim to various vista points. There are also a number of trails down into the canyon as well as along the rim, meandering through forests and along the viewpoints. While not especially hot for this time of year - it was only about 80 degrees - it was still a bit warm for biking or trail running, so we opted for the car. We walked out about a mile roundtrip on one route to Mather Point, and that was where we got our first full view of the GC.
Saying that the GC is immense would really just not do it justice. This place is simply jaw droppingly huge. And such beauty! It leaves you speechless.
We spent the majority of our day wandering from one vista to another. We did drive back to the campground around noon and set up our tent at our space, so that when we returned later it would be ready and waiting for us. It was good that we did, because we drove out to the east end of the park to watch the sunset, and didn’t get back until well after dark. Having a tent already set up and ready to step into, proved to have been a wise decision.
Above are a few pictures of the GC at sunset.
The next morning, in order to get up in time for the sunrise at Yaki Point, we had to wake up about 4:00 AM. The sun was to rise at 6:06 AM and we needed to drive to the Visitor Center in order to take the shuttle bus to Yaki point, as no cars are allowed there. The first shuttle bus leaves at 4:00 AM. I had wanted to maybe get the 4:30 shuttle so we would be there in time to watch the beginning of the sunrise, as it takes a little while for the sky to "wake up." We had set our alarms on our phones the night before, but Adrienne's phone was having trouble deciding whether or not it was still Pacific Time or Mountain Time. So,....... her phone woke us at 3:00 AM. We had some trouble falling asleep to begin with, with some noisy campers around us, so the 3:00 wake up call was not much fun. And I couldn't go back to sleep after this, so we ended up getting up early and were in the car just a few minutes past 4:00. We caught the shuttle at about 4:15 and were the ONLY ones on the bus, and the first and ONLY ones out at Yaki Point. It was a good half hour before another shuttle came, and even then, there were only 5 other people that showed up to this "really popular place to watch the sunrise" location. In the end, we had a good time and the sunrise was worth the hassle we put ourselves through.
The Grand Canyon is truly a magical place, not to be missed!