Just a quick post on our time at the Grand Canyon because I’m sure it has been done to death!
In terms of day walk options, you can basically either walk in/out of the canyon from a number of starting points or you can walk around the rim. To avoid some of the (ridiculous) crowds, we opted for the former. The basic principle is that you work out how long you want to walk for and turn around 1/3 of the way into that time frame (as it generally takes twice as long to walk up than down). I was feeling a bit worse for wear after a few straight days of hiking and from accidentally drinking some water that was still pretty laden with detergent fluid used to wash my bottle, so we decided we would target a 3-3.5 hour walk.
We set off from the South Kaibab trailhead, which is reached by taking one of the free shuttle buses used to ease the environmental and congestion impact of cars in the park. Our time limit got us another half an hour past the ‘cedar ridge’ area where most hikers around us seemed to be turning back. The walk back up, while challenging left us wanting for more, as we actually managed to finish up more quickly than expected. A cool highlight was passing the pack mules that take gear and tourists into the canyon, their endurance and ability to maintain balance and navigate the paths is definitely to be admired!
Some things to remember when hiking into the Canyon are to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as temperatures tend to increase with the descent. There are plenty of warnings about this (and about ensuring you don’t go further down than you go up), however plenty around us seemed not to be heeding them and struggled as a result.
Overall we found the infamous views into the canyon to be entirely spectacular but at the same time a little too much for our feeble minds to comprehend! The vistas are akin to some kind of move backdrop and it is difficult to get your head around the fact that they are right in front of your eyes.
We managed to get a last minute room in one of the lodges for the night prior, having spent a week straight camping out, but there are plenty of camping options in the park (although would be best too book well in advance). Food/shopping/hotels are a plenty in the park, and the crowds inevitably follow. This has been a concern for those keen to protect the park in recent times, following a proposal to build a large housing and commercial project near the park at Tusayan (a town near the entrance). The proposal was rejected on grounds that it would stress out the park’s infrastructure and potentially impact on the park’s watershed by tapping into springs. See this article for more.
And one last point! I mentioned in my post on Bridges NM that the ranger at that park gave us some advice on travelling to the Grand Canyon. One of the options he proposed was that we take on the Moki Dugway, a harrowing switchback road carved into a cliff face. The road descends a massive 1100 feet over 3 miles from ceda mesa to the valley floor. If you are brave enough (I wasn’t and got my significant other to drive) it is a pretty cool experience and provides some great views into the Valley of the Gods!
- Map and information sheet for the trail