The Grand Canyon-South Rim: The Ultimate American Experience
Two days at the Grand Canyon… I’m looking forward to it but also a bit concerned (“I’m too young to die!”).
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The road from Vegas is 4-5h long and is quite spectacular: the desert, the mountains, the Lake Mead in the distance and, as we’re getting closer, a road through the forest! That’s a first surprise for me who thought the Grand Canyon was in the middle of a desert.
Second surprise when we reach our destination… I thought we booked a hotel with minimum comfort in Williams, about 1h drive from the GC, but we end up at the Grand Hotel, a very nice lodge-style hotel, most comfortable, with a swimming pool and a hot tub just 10 minutes away from the park entrance… Thank you Simon!!! Tusayan is a small village that only hosts a few hotels and restaurants (with fast food of course, we’re still in the US!) and a small grocery/gift shop
Here we go, first day at the GC! The entrance of the park is marked by a toll, still in the forest. For $25, we receive a ticket to leave in the car and which is valid for a week. After watching a short introduction film about the canyon at the information centre, we go for a first glance of the canyon, and of course, no disappointment. We immediately feel very small in front of this giant rift, these discontinuous cliffs with surprisingly linear gradation of red.
Then, we decide to follow the Desert View Drive to the watchtower, stopping at famous viewpoints or for short walks along the cliff (which is sometimes asking a lot from me and my vertigo that I never felt that much in my life!), and at a mini museum and ruins from a native American village. February isn’t one of the most touristic months and even if we are not alone (people are sometimes scary so close to the edge or even bending over just for a picture…), we sometimes feel like the place is ours.
In the end of the day: a cold wind, striking sun (we regretted we forgot sunscreen) ans breathtaking landscapes.
For our second (and already last) day, we choose to follow the Bright Angel trail down the GC to see it from a different angle. Hiking down to the river and back would take more than a day but we still walk 3 miles before turning around (it’s still getting dark at 6pm). The paths winding down are narrow, irregular and sometimes muddy. The way down remains the easiest part, even if my vertigo is really bad, and I’m already worrying about the way back, especially when I see people going back up, exhausted and asking how long left when they have at least an hour before reaching the top. The views offered by the hike and the silence are more than worth it. We even run into these kind of does with big ears, wild but bold/brave (?) that don’t hesitate to follow another group of hikers. Before starting the dreaded way back up, we have a break to eat and enjoy the magnificent scenery… and this is when Simon chooses for the most beautiful proposal, in the most beautiful decor! How not to say yes!
With stars in my eyes and the biggest smile ever, the way back is eventually much easier than I thought! The pain in the legs and the vertigo don’t exist anymore! The way up is actually not that much longer than the way down (you can usually count twice as long). As we reach the top, fatigue finally hits and what would be better than a visit to the hotel’s hot tub to unwind and recover from our emotions?! This day offered spectacular views and going down the canyon stroke us much more than “just” seeing it from the cliff.
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