The Grand Canyon had been on my bucket list for years and it did not disappoint!
When we woke up the temperature outside was 28F. This was a bit of a concern because I thought we were going to be cold but as it turns out the temperature raises pretty fast here, especially on a sunny day.
We drove to the Grand Canyon National Park south entrance, paid our fee, got our updated information in the form of a newspaper and drove in to look for parking. Note- when we arrived at around 9:15 parking was not an issue, after that however, it seemed to fill up fast.
We parked close to the Visitor Center and headed straight for the shuttle bus stop. The shuttle bus system is very efficient and a great idea if you are on a time constraint. Take the time to plan your visit, it makes all the difference in the world.
Since this was going to be our only day at the park we wanted to do as much as possible. From the Visitors Center, we took the blue shuttle west to the end and transferred to the red shuttle so that we could go as far west as our time would allow. We got off at Hopi point to enjoy breathtaking views of the Canyon and the Colorado River. The day was crisp and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. We then worked our way back east along the rim trail to Powell Point where we caught the shuttle bus going back eastwards to the Bright Angel Trailhead.
It was 11am by the time we got to the trailhead and the temperature was still quite nice when we started hiking down. The trail is wide enough for two people but since there are folks coming up as well as going down we ended up walking single file. The trail starts relatively flat and offers very nice views. Once we got to the first switchback though, it became very steep. We went further down and at some point, shortly before the first rest house we decided to turn back. My plan had been to make it to the rest house but we had started close to lunch time and I had a feeling that the hike back was going to be harder- and it was. We were all very hungry by this point so we had a water/snack break and then made it back up to the trailhead- with several water breaks in between!
From here we walked along the Rim Trail to the famous El Tovar for a late lunch. The service was good and we enjoyed a nice sit down meal. After lunch we hit the easternmost lookouts in the park. We took the orange shuttle bus to Yaki point where the views seemed to be more expansive that those in the west but with no view of the Colorado River. Some clouds had rolled in and the different lighting gave the landscape a very different feel
By 5:00 in the afternoon it felt like a full day and we were ready to go back to the hotel.
Use the shuttle service to go along The Rim Trail. This trail goes along the edge of the Canyon and offers stunning views, it is flat and mostly paved and very easy to follow. If you have a limited amount of time you can walk along the Rim Trail for a while and then use the shuttle bus service to reach the furthest outlooks or ride it back to the visitor center.
Would we come back? A strong YES from all of us!