We left Cottonwood and made the three hour drive to Grand Canyon National Park. The bad news is our colds/allergies followed us there. The good news is we have ten days to enjoy the park. Hopefully during that time the cold/allergy medicine will eventually kick in. For two people who have never had allergy problems in the past, springtime in Arizona has really kicked our butt!! Evidently this area doesn’t have cottonwood trees but it does have juniper which is just as bad.
Our campground is right in the heart of the national park and super convenient to everything. We have a full hookup site and the first thing we noticed were all the elk roaming throughout the campground. It is possible to step out of your RV and see elk a few steps away. They are completely unafraid of people. However we realize this is not a petting zoo and we stay a respectful distance away.
Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919. The canyon is 277 miles long, one mile deep and covers a total of 1,900 square miles.
This was my first visit to the Grand Canyon and Bill’s first visit in about ten years so after setting up the RV we drove over to the south rim for a first look at the Grand Canyon. It is truly breathtaking and leaves you awe struck!
We are staying at the south rim of the canyon and will visit the north rim in the fall when we have completed our summer travels. Unlike the north rim, the south rim is well developed with a village that includes hotels, lodges and several restaurants. Also located in this area of the park are a general store, bank and a post office. The general store amazed us with their collection of souvenirs, clothes, shoes, hiking poles for rent as well as a huge range of food items and a wide choice of cold/allergy medicines as well as other first aid supplies. To discourage traffic they have a convenient and free bus shuttle service throughout the park. Other national parks we have been to have provided this service and we usually don’t take advantage of it since we prefer to come and go as we please. But they make the bus service so convenient we took full advantage of it. The bus picked us up at our campground and the bus stop was just a short walk from our campsite. The bus ran until 10:00 PM and stopped at various places every 15 minutes throughout the park. Each bus had bike racks on the front so you could take your bikes with you and if you got tired, ride the bus home.
There is a thirteen mile rim trail that follows the rim of the canyon with part of it being wheelchair accessible.
Another day we stopped by the Visitors Center and were reminded how much nicer the national parks are in the United States compared to New Zealand. The national parks in New Zealand are free, but the facilities and services are extremely limited. If you want a map or any information such as hiking trails, you have to pay for any printed materials provided and the amount of information is very limited. In the United States our national parks have ranger programs, movies, visitors centers with displays and well maintained trails. We heard many tourists in New Zealand tell us how much they loved the national parks in the United States. At the Grand Canyon Visitor Center we saw a great movie about the canyon. A ranger talk was beginning and there was a lengthy list of ranger talks and programs scheduled for the week.
We walked on the rim trail to Mather Point, one of the most popular lookout points at the canyon. The view was spectacular. While we were there a kind gentleman offered to take our picture. Our colds/allergies were still making us miserable so we stopped by the village General Store on the way home for more allergy medicine.
There is a fantastic Geology Museum in the park and the bus dropped us off near the entrance. The museum building was dedicated in 1928 and that site in the park was chosen because it was felt that this site had the best view in the park. The museum does an excellent job of describing the geological history and composition of the canyon with floor to ceiling visuals and interactive displays. While we were there we caught a ranger talk on how the Grand Canyon was formed and the rocks that make up the layers of the canyon. One interesting thing was the difference in temperature between the rim of the canyon and the floor of the canyon. Down on the floor of the canyon the temperatures can be twenty plus degrees warmer, critical information for hikers to know in the summer months before hiking into the canyon. The Grand Canyon was formed by erosion from the mighty Colorado River and it was interesting to learn that the river is just as wide now as it was five million years ago. The river continues to cut the canyon deeper but not wider. We also learned that the Grand Canyon is constantly changing. Since it rained a bit that day, that means the Grand Canyon has changed since we arrived. Cool!!