While everyone has a different amount of time to spend at the Grand Canyon, we were on a limited time frame due to work schedules, but I feel we were able to make the most out of our 2 days.
We entered into the Grand Canyon via the Desert Tower entrance on the East side of the South Rim. Upon entering we were handed a newspaper that had all sorts of information. At our first stop we took the time to familiarize ourselves with our maps, bus routes, etc. and made a game plan for our two days spent in the Canyon.
**Note: As of Dec. 2015, the National Park Service is no longer passing these papers out. Before heading to the Grand Canyon, they suggest downloading this map, the Park Ranger Shows and Bus Routes Schedules (changes seasonally, click here for most recent schedules), and this hiking guide.**
|Our first view of the Grand Canyon|
|The Yellow Van at the Desert View Watchtower|
Desert View Watchtower:
This was our first view of the Grand Canyon and it was breath taking. Looking back, it was not my favorite view of the Canyon, but there are other interesting things to see and do here. There is a large watch tower that you can climb up and see other views of the Canyon as well as learn a little bit of history.
After spending a little bit of time at the watchtower, we drove for 22 miles until we arrived at the Grand Canyon Village. This is the main area for the South Rim where the main visitor’s center is as well as the base for shuttles, trails and facilities.
After arriving at the Grand Canyon Village, we continued a short distance to our campsite. We quickly set up camp and packed our backpack so we could get to some hiking we had planned for the day.
|Checking out the view from below the rim.|
Bright Angel Trail:
We decided to do our big hike the first day. Ben chose for us to take the Bright Angel Trail. We only hiked part way down, but going below the Canyon rim gives you an amazing point of view that shows the Canyon in a completely different light. I would definitely suggest taking a hike below the rim of whatever length works for you and your family.
Sunset at Yaki Point:
After our hike (which I was exhausted from!) we took a shuttle to Yaki Point to watch the sunset. We made sure to get there well before the sun set. This made it able for us to get a good spot right on a cliff without anyone in our way. We ate a picnic dinner and enjoyed taking in the beauty of the Canyon in the changing light. After the sunset, make sure you catch the shuttle back! It is super important to be aware of the time as well as the bus schedule so that you can make it back. The busses tend to run about an hour after the sun sets.
|Right before sunset at Yaki Point|
We thought about attending one of the nightly Ranger Programs that are given at the Grand Canyon, but when we got back to our campsite after watching the sunset, we were so exhausted from a day of traveling and somewhat rigorous hiking, we were too exhausted to leave our campsite. I have heard that these nightly programs are amazing, so if you’re not too tired make sure you take advantage of them!
Sunrise at Mather Point:
This is something you don’t want to miss either. Even if you saw the sunset the night before, a sunrise over the Grand Canyon is a spectacle of its own. Even though we were tired, it was totally worth getting up for.
After the sunrise, we headed back to our campsite, ate breakfast and packed up camp. We then drove and parked at the Visitor’s Center. We were there early enough that parking was not an issue.
Rim Trail and Museums:
|One of our stops along the Rim Trail|
We walked along the Rim Trail for almost the whole length of the paved trail. As we came along sites, we would hop off the trail and go see what they had to offer. The Rim Trail is nice because it is flat and paved; it was a nice, easy walk especially after we hiked Bright Angel the day before. Along the Rim Trail we stopped at Yavapai Point and the Geology Museum. They have a pretty cool view of the Canyon as well as lots of interesting information as to how the Canyon was formed. As we continued along the Rim Trail, we walked along the Trail of Time which was an outdoor display that gave information about the different types of rocks in the Grand Canyon, how it was formed and displayed a timeline along the trail that was neat to see. We ended our Rim Trail walk at the Hopi House and Verkamp’s Visitor Center where we saw small museums and displays about the history of the Grand Canyon Village and about the Native Americans who lived in the area.
Main Visitor’s Center:
We grabbed a shuttle back to the Main Visitor’s Center and went inside to watch a video about the Grand Canyon. While it may seem funny to watch an introductory video to the Grand Canyon after we had already been there for a while, we intentionally planned to do it the second day because there was some serious chance of rain. It is a good video and I think it is worth your time to watch. It is also a nice break from the large amount of hiking and walking you will probably be doing at the Grand Canyon.
After we had a quick picnic lunch, we hopped in our car and drove East to start to head out of the Canyon. But before we left, we stopped at the Tusayan Museum and Ruin. We looked at a small museum about the ancient people who lived on the rim of the Grand Canyon and then went on a very short walking tour of actual ruins from these Ancestral Puebloans.
|Outside one of the main ruins.|
This was our last stop in the Grand Canyon. We just stopped for a quick last view before we left. It was pretty crowded without a lot of parking, but we are glad we took one last look and stopped for a few more pictures 🙂
|Our last look at the Grand Canyon.|
All in all, we feel like we were able to explore quite a bit of what the Grand Canyon has to offer. The only parts we didn’t get to see were the areas around Hermit’s Rest. But we are already planning on going there on our next trip to the Grand Canyon.