Considering the tragic events earlier this week, I’m sure the desire to go set foot in America has decreased a bit. At least for me it did. But I still don’t want to keep you from one of the best things about that country; the wonder of nature called ‘Grand Canyon National Park’.
They always say to keep the best for last. And that’s sort of what I’ve done with my posts about the South-West of the USA, even though Grand Canyon National Park was the first National Park we visited on our roadtrip.
I have already mentioned that a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon is a must – if you can budget it -, but there are of course many more activities available to explore this magical place.
For many years before my trip to the USA, the Grand Canyon appealed to my imagination. It was one of the wonders of nature I just had to see before I died. And it seems to be on many’s bucket list.
I will never forget the moment when we parked our car in the parking lot in front of the visitor center and walked towards Mather Point; our very first view of the Grand Canyon. It was just so exciting knowing that in a few moments I would finally be able to admire a view of which I had already seen so many pictures.
And I can only say one thing; pictures don’t do it any justice. The ‘grandness’ of it is truly amazing.
After our helicopter flight, we put on our hiking boots and decided to beat a part of the Bright Angel trail. This trail goes all the way down in the canyon. Of course we weren’t nearly trained enough to hike the entire way. It’s strongly adviced to not to do it in one day even. Since it was already after 4pm by the time we started, we decided to just to down for about an hour and then head back up so we would be up again before sunset. It’s definitely not to be underestimated. You go down really quickly but the trek back up is quite heavy.
I can definitely recommend hiking at least a part of a trail down in the canyon. You don’t really get its grandness until you’re completely surrounded by it. It’s not the whole experience as going all the way down, but it’s something you just can’t miss out on.
Nothing is quite as magical as admiring the sunset over the Grand Canyon. The most famous viewpoint to experience this is Hopi Point. So if you want a good place, make sure to arrive in time as many people will watch it from there. There are shuttle buses to take you from the village to the view points, and the last bus back leaves right after sunset.
If you prefer a less crowded experience, you can also watch it from the view points right before Hopi Point; Powell Point and Maricopa Point. It’s not as beautiful as Hopi, but it’ll feel less like a tourist attraction. We walked from the trailhead of the Bright Angel Trail to Hopi Point as the sun was setting. We experienced the climax at Hopi Point (right in time!) but the tranquility of the earlier view points was also really great.
As the darkness fell over the canyon, we went to bed early as we wanted to catch the sunrise at 5am the next morning. From our cabin in the Bright Angel Lodge, it was still a short drive to Mather Point which is thé place to see the sun come up. By the time we arrived, a little crowd – mostly photographers – had already assembled to admire this spectacle.
I enjoyed the sunset a bit more (might have had to do with the early hour for sunrise) but seeing the colors play out in the morning was quite a sight as well. It was definitely worth getting up early for.
For the rest of the morning in Grand Canyon, we had planned to see every single viewpoint along Highway 64. And while you might think that after all those viewpoints you get bored of it; you’re wrong. I could have stared at it so much longer. It’s impossible to take it all in.
At the last viewpoint ‘Desert View Watchtower’ there is also a tower (Ha! Didn’t see that one coming did ya?) you can visit. The top has another stunning view over the east rim of Grand Canyon National Park, but it’s not that much better than the view from the foot of the tower. The only reason why it’s worth it to go in are the beautiful murals.
And that was it for the Grand Canyon National Park. It was with great sadness that we drove away from this national park. Before arrival, I was so afraid to be disappointed that reality didn’t match all the stunning pictures I had already seen. But nothing can prepare you for the actual view. It’s impressive and it’s one of the most beautiful things in this world.