Weekend Escape-Grand Canyon

Life has been so busy in the New Year!  How’s everyone doing with your goals and resolutions?  Making progress, I hope!  We’ve had a busy January full of travel.  My favorite place we’ve been so far was our weekend getaway to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  It was absolutely beautiful!  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!  The colors, the fun, what to do, what not to do, when to go, different options.  Oh it was just a blast.  I wish we’d had more than just 3 days there, that’s for sure.arizona-grand-canyon-national-park-east-map57

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, between 4-18 miles wide, and contains the Colorado River located in the state of Arizona.  It’s a geological marvel due to the fact that the layers of earth have been exposed throughout the millennia and geologists can study those layers to determine age, flora and fauna (fossils), and type of stone.  It’s really incredible!  Since we were there in January, there was snow on the ground which made the Grand Canyon seem surreal.  We only spent time in the South Rim because the North Rim is closed during the winter months and the West Rim, we learned, is about 4 hours driving distance away from the South Rim.  We had no idea it was that huge!  We’d originally had a hotel booked in Williams, AZ, but as soon as we got into the area, we realized that was a mistake.  Williams is almost exactly a one hour drive from the South Rim entrance.  It was just too much for us to drive back and forth every day on top of hiking.  We were exhausted.  We were lucky that our hotel was kind enough to cancel our reservation at the last minute, no penalty, and we moved to the town of Tusayan, AZ.  It’s about 1-2 miles south of the South Rim entrance and was much more convenient for us!  The hotel staff said the hotels in Tusayan are mostly booked throughout the entire year, so if you’re going to stay there, make sure you have a reservation ahead of time, or you might be out of luck.  There are also several hotel/motels ON the South Rim.  We looked at staying at El Tovar on the rim, but they were just asking way too much per night than we were wanting to spend just to sleep.  However, it might be something to look into if you really don’t want to drive anywhere and you want all food, drink, bed, and Grand Canyon within easy walking distance.38

On to the fun part…the PICTURES!  We took so many pictures that weekend.  My iPhone took pretty decent pictures and I was quite pleased.  I’ve even had some printed out and they look amazing!

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Our weekend was a whirlwind of a trip:

Day 1: left DFW at 11pm, arrive Phoenix around 1am.  We picked up our rental car (Phoenix airport has an amazing rental car system, it’s really organized and convenient) and drove to Camp Verde, AZ to stay in a quaint motel there.  We arrived so early in the morning (about 4am) that we didn’t see anything driving in and were stunned when we woke up in the morning and saw beautiful mountains surrounding us.  The whole Verde Valley area is beautiful and I would recommend spending some time there if you have the time.  After we woke up in the morning, we headed up to Flagstaff for some breakfast, then drove out to the Grand Canyon!  From Phoenix to the South Rim total is about 4-5 hours depending on traffic.  It’s really not a bad drive and you can make it really pretty depending on your route.  After arriving at the South Rim, we went to the visitor’s center to look at the maps and get an idea of trail conditions and we took off.  We hiked from the visitor’s center to El Tovar (only 2 miles!) and stopped at every single lookout and overview.  We were just floored at how beautiful the Grand Canyon is.  The top of the canyon had snow which tapered down into a drier bottom area.  It was just magnificent.  I don’t think there are proper words to describe it.  However, we were so exhausted from the night before that we retired early back to our new hotel.

Day 2: We got up fairly early, feeling nicely rested, and drove to El Tovar.  We decided to start there and continue hiking west towards Hermit’s Rest.  We hiked the Rim Trail most of the way through ice and snow until we were so exhausted that we started just walking on the road the last 2 miles or so.  At Hermit’s Rest, we got some delicious hot chocolate, relaxed a little, hung out, met some people, and hitchhiked back to El Tovar.  All in all, it was about 8 miles heading out to Hermit’s Rest.  Since it was still fairly early in the day, we decided to drive out to the Desert View Tower on the eastern side.  Of course, we stopped at every lookout on the way.  Desert View Tower was absolutely amazing.  It afforded spectacular views of the Colorado River and the flat plains beyond the Grand Canyon.  By then, the sun was beginning to set and the light was wrong for taking good photos, so we decided we’d start the next day at Desert View Tower to get the morning light.

 

 

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Hopi Point on the way to Hermit’s Rest
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some of our trail was through woods and some on the rim, but all of it was through ice and snow
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This is what the Rim Trail looks like in winter.
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Some of the views show the Colorado River! See it down there?
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After hiking 8 miles in 4 hours through ice and snow and stopping at every scenic point, we finally made it.
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We hiked all along the top of that ridge you see.
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This is my favorite photo of the trip. The colors are just brilliant. I’m debating making a painting of it.
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View from Desert View Tower
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They have these set up periodically so you can refill your water bottles with fresh spring water. It’s some of the best water I’ve ever had!

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Day 3: got up early and went east to Desert View Tower and saw spectacular views of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.  Decided to continue on Hwy 34 into Cameron and stopped at every “Scenic View” spot on the way.  We were able to see 2 canyons that were part of the Little Colorado River.  We also saw a volcano crater on the west side of Flagstaff which was really neat.  Once we hit Flagstaff, we decided we were going to drive back to Phoenix through Sedona.  I am so glad we did.  Sedona and the whole area is just BEAUTIFUL.  We stopped along the side of the narrow canyon road and hiked down to the river that was at the bottom.  We stopped in Sedona for some food and shopping.  When you drive in, the main strip of town is all shops and restaurants and was just so adorable.  From Sedona, we decided to take a back road over a mountain instead of taking the main highway.  We found ourselves in this tiny, quaint town on the side of a steep mountain that has a haunted hotel.  Now we’ll just have to go back and stay at the haunted hotel, of course!  From our mountain town, we continued back to Phoenix, stopping in Anthem along the way to visit their beautiful city park and see their war memorial.  Then it was back to Dallas and the real world!

Little Colorado River
Little Colorado River
I found this sign to be humorous at one of the scenic lookouts driving into Cameron.
I found this sign to be humorous at one of the scenic lookouts driving into Cameron.

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Anthem war memorial. On November 11 at 11:11am the sun shines through all of the columns and illuminates the seal at the bottom.
Anthem war memorial. On November 11 at 11:11am the sun shines through all of the columns and illuminates the seal at the bottom.

We had an amazing trip and I can’t wait to share with you our future adventures and travels.  Thank you for taking this journey to the Grand Canyon with me.  I hope everyone gets a chance to go sometime!  It’s well worth it.

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