A visit to the Grand Canyon can be intimidating for two reasons: the sheer size of it and its stunning beauty.
Grand Canyon is massive, seriously huge. It’s also breathtaking and unbelievable and totally makes you question the true meaning of life. You don’t have to work very hard for these life altering, deep thoughts to arise within you, they attack at first sight of the canyon’s ever expansive views.
I love Grand Canyon because it makes me rethink everything. I could sit there for hours looking into the abyss. Even now, I can’t really grasp the reality of what the Grand Canyon is and how it came to be.
We visited the South Rim of the Canyon. When you’re booking a trip make sure you book accommodation where you want to do activities. The North and South rims sound like they are near each other but they’re most certainly not.
We stationed Mortimer, our campervan, at the Grand Canyon Camper Village in Tusayan. From there you can easily catch the shuttle bus into the park. In Tusayan you will also find convenience stores (perfect for restocking the campervan) and restaurants/cafes (perfect for restocking your belly). They even have an Imax theatre playing a movie about- you guessed it… the Grand Canyon.
There are two activities I can 100% recommend: The South Kaibab Trail hike and renting bikes. It’s hard to know exactly what to do at the Grand Canyon but hopefully this will help with your planning. Keep in mind that we were a group of four fairly fit young people and use these recommendations accordingly.
South Kaibab Trail Hike:
This trail is great because it leads down toward the basin of the canyon but you can tailor it to your group. There is an easy 1.8 mile roundtrip hike that takes you to Ooh Ahh Point for a spectacular view. The next stopping point is Cedar Ridge, a 3 mile roundtrip hike that leads you to a flat area with even better, wider views of the canyon. We did the 6 mile roundtrip hike to Skeleton Point. Here you can catch a glimpse of the Colorado river. This is also where most of those meaningful thoughts about life came to me. If you’re a real champ you can hike all the way down to the bottom of the basin but it’s advised that you don’t do this in one day.
There is no shade or water on the trail so bring enough water for your selected hike. Hot tip: make sure you don’t bring so much water you are dragged down by it. There is only one chance to use the “toilet” (at the Cedar Ridge) so chugging all your water to lighten your load is not a good option. I tried it.
It should be noted that there are mules traveling up and down the trail. Be prepared for a few smelly bits and to move out of their way. They will kick you if you don’t and you will fall over the edge of the canyon- that’s what the rangers told us.
We weren’t 100% sold on the idea of renting bikes but we are so glad we did. We rented them from Bike Grand Canyon at the visitors Centre for a half day ($30). We rode the Hermit Road trail, found ourselves some lunch and made friends with a bunch of elks. A bike allows you to control your own schedule. We stopped at every viewing point a long the way and stayed there for as long or short as we liked.
There are some tough uphill battles along Hermit Road but trust me when I say the pain is worth the gain. The feeling of flying back down the trail with a clear blue sky over top and the canyon by your side was an incredible one.
We’ve already decided that our next visit to the canyon will include a hike down to the river, a few days of white water rafting and hopefully surviving the hike back up.