March 25-27, 2019
I was very hesitant about visiting the Grand Canyon. Why? For a few reasons. For starters, it’s one of the top ten busiest national park and has over 6 millions visitors every year. The mere thought of having to fight our way through a crowd to stand in line to get a picture of the canyon was not something that sounded fun to me. Secondly, I imagined the Grand Canyon was a grand hole in the ground. I mean, I figured the park was probably more than that, but for some reason I couldn’t shake this image from my mind. I’ve seen other people’s pictures, a nice family smiling in front of the canyon, usually with strangers in the background. And last, the national park is huge. Where to stay. What side to visit. Is there a better side? The farther west we’ve traveled, the larger the national parks have become. It can be quite overwhelming and even more so when paired with spring breakers.
Our first day in Grand Canyon NP was spent with a short list of must do’s, which I believe is a good way to start out. Our list included getting the girls their Jr Ranger books, getting a map and asking a Ranger what they suggested doing, see the Grand Canyon, and get more water. We accomplished most of this, along with hitting the Visitor Center and Gift Shop for stamps, a sticker, and postcards. We also were able to hike a good portion of the Trail of Time, which has geology exhibits along the Rim Trail. Parking was crazy when we arrived, so we started from the Market, walked to the Visitors Center, and then caught the bus back to our vehicle.
- As always, if you are visiting with kids, grab a Jr Ranger booklet! It’s a fun way to incorporate education into exploring the park, plus they receive a badge when they’re finished!
- Find a spot and just take it in. Heck, find multiple spots. The Rim Trail offers a lot of great spots to get a view of the canyon, but there are also pull off points when heading to Hermits Rest or to Desert View. We stopped at Grandview and Navajo Point, which was a great spot to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch with a bit of peace of quiet compared to other parks of the park.
- Yavapai Geology Museum. This place was pretty crowded when we were there, but it had a lot of educational materials and a passport stamp!
- Explore the Village. We enjoyed visiting the Kolb Studio. It was owned by the Kolb brothers, who were photographer explorers. The photos they took are not only pretty cool, but impressive.
- Go left at the fork. When the Village is crazy busy with other visitors, take a left and head to Desert View Tower. You could spend all day stopping at different viewpoints, checking out Tsayan Museum and Ruin, and the tower itself. If you roadschool, read up on the ruins and the Puebloan village. What else you may find interesting is the architect, Mary Colter, who designed not only the Desert View Tower, but Hermits Rest, Lookout Studio (next to Kolb Studio), and a handful of others throughout the park.
Unfortunately we only had a few days to spend at the Grand Canyon, but we plan on returning very soon. If we would have had more time, we would have spent a day heading up to Hermits Rest and hiking some of the Bright Angel Trail.
If you have been to Grand Canyon NP, what was your favorite part? What would you have liked to do but ran out of time?