We met quite a few people during our trip who had been to Grand Canyon and when I asked them about it, they would all stop for a slight moment, get a distant mystical glimmer in their eyes and say: Oh Grand Canyon, it’s BIG! And then they would nod and sort of disappear in a daydream again. This only made me more excited to get there and see it for my own eyes. I knew it was going to be big, everyone knows that, from photographs, documentaries and films I had seen and from the guide books I’d read. But nothing can prepare you for what you will see once you get there.
Our first view of the Grand Canyon was from Mather Point, by the Visitor’s Centre. Even though snow clouds and fog blocked the full view of Grand Canyon as I first laid eyes on it, I was taken away by the grandeur of this place. When we got to the rim, I stopped and sighed, my whole body filled with warmth, even though it was freezing outside, my eyes welled up and I can not possibly put into words what I felt when I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. When I think of it now, it still gives me goose bumps and I can still remember that feeling of awe and thinking; is this real? As we stood there, gob smacked, starring out over the vastness of this place, we could see snow clouds drifting by us and the fog thickening up.
We stayed at Bright Angel Lodge, we had a Rim Cabin Room the first night, it was a bit on the pricey side, but worth every penny. It was also the only room they had available when we made our booking, so booking well in advance is definitely a must. We were so glad for this old log built Rim Cabin, it was so quaint and cosy and so warm, which was exactly what we needed when the wind was lapping outside our door and snow was still drifting in the Canyon outside our window. I think I can safely say it was our favourite place out of all the places we stayed in throughout our trip. By the afternoon the snow and fog had cleared away, so we took a walk around the area of Grand Canyon Village Area and checked out the Lookout Studio. Built over 100 years ago by architect Mary Jane Colter, it sits on the edge of the rim and blends in perfectly with its natural surroundings. It operates as a nice little gift shop and has a wonderful outdoor’s observation terrace at the back of the building.
We headed over to the restaurant in the main Bright Angel Lodge building, which operates as a fully serviced hotel. We had a lovely hearty dinner there, which offered fantastic value for money. Surprisingly good I must say for being a National Park and the food was good too.
As we weren’t able to do the famous multiple day hike down the Bright Angel Trail, which leads all the way to the river bed and back, I decided to at least walk down a shorter part of the trail. I didn’t go with any supply apart from a bottle of water and some trail mix in my pocket, so I only walked down about half an hour. Along the trail I met a British family who were on their way back up, they had started the previous day and got caught in a snow and thunderstorm, whilst crossing a steep and very narrow cliff edge path. What makes hiking in the Grand Canyon so hard and very different to other hikes, is that you start with a steep descent and that the temperatures differs greatly. At the top of the trail, it was very cold and windy and I was wearing multiple layers, but as I had walked about 15 min down the trail, I had taken my jacket, thermal and shirt off as it was so hot. Many people try to walk down to the riverbed and back in one day and fail, having to be rescued, some even die from heat exhaustion.
I also took use of the free jump on jump off shuttle service in the park, which can take you to all the viewing points. I went along to a few of them, walked between some, at one look out point I saw 3 California Condor’s , flying over me. They are one of the biggest birds in the world, with a wingspan of up to 3 metres. They were almost extinct a couple of decades ago, with less than 2 dozen of them known in the world. Thanks to a team of naturalists from the Peregrin Fund and their Reintroduction Program, there are a healthy amount of California Condor’s around Grand Canyon National Park.
Some say that you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the sunset at Lipan Point in Grand Canyon, so we spent our last evening there to watch the sun set behind the layers of the canyon and it was an epic sight for sure!
Some quick facts on the Grand Canyon:
- The age of the Grand Canyon is debated amongst geologists, but it’s believed to be some 17 million years old.
- It is so big that it could hold all of earths river water and still be less than half full.
- It stretches 277 miles/446 km long.
- It is 18 miles29 km across at it’s widest point.
- It is 4 miles/6.4km across at it’s narrowest point.
- It is 1800 metres deep.
- GC offers a surprising biological diversity and is home to over 2000 species of plants and animals.
Our visit to Grand Canyon gave me a taster and I definitely want more, it is one place I would say everyone should go to once in their life and I’m planning on returning again, hopefully sometime in the ‘nearish’ future. But the next time I’m bringing my backpack, tent, sleeping bag and all other gear I will require for some proper hiking. I want to see more of this place!
Grand Canyon is beyond BIG, it’s immense, it’s epic, it’s grand. And like nothing else I have ever seen in my life and I dare say, like nothing else I ever will see. It really is a natural wonder of this world. It’s a place that you can just stare at for hours and it keeps changing with the light, the colours, the shadows and the shapes are ever changing throughout the day. It really is a view that knows no boundaries.