Our family decided that we should visit the Grand Canyon. We had not been for a number of years even though we live in Arizona. We decided to spend the night before near Sedona in Oak Creek Village and then drive to the Canyon for the day the following morning. This was to allow me to more gradually adjust to the altitude change since I sometimes have some issues. The Grand Canyon is around 7000 feet. I’m happy to say that I did very well; although I don’t know how much was due to staying at a lower elevation the night before.
It took us about 2 1/4 hours to drive from our motel to the Grand Canyon. It was a beautiful September day with a high of about 78. We entered at the South Rim location and parked near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. We walked out to the view points near the Visitor Center. Then we used the buses to get around the Park. We had lunch at the Yavapai Lodge Canyon Cafe. This was a good choice since it wasn’t crowded and served a variety of food cafeteria style.
After lunch Pat and the kids went and hiked part way down and then back up the Bright Angel Trail. Since I didn’t want to hike that, I went to the El Tovar Hotel area. I was lucky enough to be able to see some native american dancing and music at the outdoor stage. I also visited the shop in Hopi House and the Verkamp’s Visitor Center which had a small exhibit. I then rest in the shade relaxing in a rocking chair on the porch of the El Tovar Hotel.
Once we joined up as a group we took the bus to Maricopa Point. We looked at the view and then hiked the Rim Trail from there to Mohave Point. I recommend hiking the trail if you are able as there are fewer people and some great views. However, there is not fencing or rails along all of the trail. The trail was wide enough that I felt comfortable even with my fear of heights but there are significant drops in places on the Canyon edge of the trail particularly in the unpaved portion.
We were very lucky and got see California Condor number 23. At one point it flew directly over me so close that I could see the numbers under its wing just by looking up (no binoculars). We were able to see this Condor in flight and sitting on the cliff several times while hiking the Rim Trail. Our daughter took this picture through her binoculars. Since there are fewer than 300 CA Condors living in the wild, we felt privileged to have seen one. We might have seen another as well but could not be sure. There were also a lot of Turkey Vultures around at the same time.
We followed this up with taking the bus to Hermits Rest and taking in the view there. We also saw some young elk. Then we returned to the Bright Angel Lodge area and had dinner there. We had to wait a while for the bus back to our car following dinner since the buses don’t run as often in the evening. We were treated to a spectacular view of the night sky including a visible Milky Way. There are not a lot of stars visible at night in Phoenix due to the light pollution. When we got off of the bus at the parking lot, there were pathway lights but no parking lot lights. Luckily we had one flashlight and a flashlight app on our cell phones. The night sky was even more beautiful seen from this absolutely dark parking lot.