The week after Easter we visited the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park for five days. We didn’t realize it when we made the reservation, but the week before and the week after Easter are very busy in the park. We knew that to be true by the long line of cars waiting at the entrance gate to enter the park. We last visited Grand Canyon in 2015 and this time we stayed at the same campground inside the park. I was delighted to see elk roaming free throughout the campground, just like last time. These Rocky Mountain elk were brought to the park from 1913-1928 from Yellowstone National Park. They appear to be tame and unafraid of people or cars. Regardless of how tame they are, we obeyed the rules and kept our distance and didn’t feed them.
We couldn’t wait to get to popular Mather Point for our first view of the Canyon. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, there are no words to adequately describe the Grand Canyon. Amazing, vast, awe inspiring, beautiful are words that do not do it justice. It is hard to comprehend that the Colorado River carved this magnificent canyon. The canyon is 277 miles long, four to 18 miles in width and one mile deep.
The Colorado River flows below at an average speed of four miles per hour. The river averages 300 feet wide and 100 feet deep. It flows through the Canyon and eventually empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico. From the rim of the Canyon the Colorado River is small and hard to see. However there are whitewater areas that make rafting on the river challenging and dangerous. The depth of the Canyon erodes about the width of a sheet of paper each year, so the Canyon is continually changing.
The Grand Canyon became a national park in 1919 so this is the 100th anniversary of the 1.2 million acre park. Recently there have been three deaths in the park due to people falling to their death. The day after we arrived we heard a 70 year old woman fell to her death. Some people ask why the park rangers can’t do more to prevent this from happening. The park is huge and with over six million visitors a year, there is no way the park service can prevent accidents from happening. There are warnings everywhere about not getting close to the edge. The Grand Canyon can be a dangerous place and people have to accept responsibility for their actions. In the five days we were there we observed people doing crazy, dangerous things. And in all cases it was because of picture taking. A few times I had to walk away for fear of seeing a tragedy I wouldn’t be able to forget. No picture is worth risking your life.
Most of the areas of the park can be reached by their free shuttle buses. But Desert View Watchtower has to be driven to by car. So one day we made the 25 mile trip to the eastern most developed section of the park to see the tower and the beautiful views of the Canyon. The four story 70 foot stone tower was built in 1932 and designed by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter.
We really enjoyed the drive there and back because there are scenic viewpoints along the way. As we started home, heavy clouds began to form which can dramatically change the lighting and appearance of the Canyon. No two days there are the same.
Next up: part two of our visit to Grand Canyon National Park