We awoke this morning to some sobering news. The weather was forecast to have a windchill in the low 30’s at the Grand Canyon. So we put on every single piece of clothing we brought with us and my dad and I put on our new Grand Canyon sweatshirts we’d gotten the night before, bringing my layer count to 5 (my mom passed on a sweatshirt, getting a Navajo blanket instead), and set out. In the daylight, we could see that we had a breathtaking view from our motel window…a smaller canyon that the now-dry Little Colorado River snaked through which gave us a striking glimpse at what was to come.
After breakfast, we set out across Arizona route 64, making a couple of stops at viewpoints along the way. At each one, the smallish canyon we’d seen from our window got bigger, deeper, and grander. Each of these stops also came with a small group of Navajo vendors, one of which told my mom they had seen cars coming from the Grand Canyon that were covered with snow.
We made our way into the park through the less-traveled East Entrance, which our handy-dandy Fodor’s Guide to Arizona from 2005 (which pales in comparison to Lonely Planet) recommended as a better route, as it contained some stunning viewpoints not otherwise accessible. Our first stop in the park was called Desert View, which features the famous historic tower (pictured on the cover of the official Arizona road map) and gave us our first stunning views of the Grand Canyon. And what a view it was! This was the vantage point that the famous picture looking into the canyon that I’m sure everyone has seen is taken from. Also at Desert View, I picked up a head band to cover my ears and my mom picked up some mittens because there was snow on the ground here!
We continued along Desert View Drive, stopping along numerous gorgeous viewpoints in the 30 miles it was to get to Grand Canyon Village. We finally arrived at the equally stunning Mather Point, where we parked and headed over to the oddly placed Canyon View Information Center, which isn’t located close to any parking lot. Supposedly it was built for a light rail system that has yet to come to fruition. It serves as the central terminus for a couple of natural gas-powered shuttle routes.
At this point, we were quite hungry for lunch (and cold) so we took a bus into the busting Grand Canyon Village for some lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge. After some tasty chili for lunch, my dad and I walked over to the trail head for the Bright Angel Trail, one of several which leads to the bottom of the canyon. My dad had hiked the Bright Angel trail when he was about my age, and soaked up the memories. After, we walked along the Rim Trail back over to the Hopi House to meet my mom, who had taken some time to look at Native American crafts.
By now, it was pretty late in the day, extremely cold, quite overcast, and snowing, so we decided to make our way back to the car and head home. Before leaving, we did get some outstanding pictures of the sunlight streaming in through a few tiny cracks in the clouds. And from there, we were off! It took us about 5 hours to get back to Las Vegas. And now I’m here, at least for another day. I’ll be heading back to New York on Wednesday.
But all in all, this was an outstanding little trip!