National Park Counter: 4
Ok! Here we go! So, firstly, this was not my trip and was not planned by me. I was accompanying my best friend on a personal journey. This was her trip. That being said it was an EYE OPENING experience for many reasons.
This was my first journey west. We flew into Phoenix and landed while it was still light out, but by the time we got the rental car and began the trek to Flagstaff en route to the Canyon, it was totally dark. There was nothing to see, and was BLACK. We rolled into the national park late in the evening as we were lodging in the park. The only thing along the journey that was noteworthy to me were the occasional elevation signs, which were different, yet totally insignificant….but growing up in Indiana and then living in Florida, one changes elevation by about 15 feet maximum, ever, so those elevation signs don’t really exist. The last sign was 7000 feet!
The first morning was the walk up to the rim of the Canyon. A friend of mine (who I have previously mentioned, and will mention again in the blog) once told me it was a big hole in the ground and not much else. My experience was wholly different! First, it was hard to breath. At this point I was pushing 300 pounds and had never been anywhere near this elevation my entire life! But, I digress. The most noticeable thing was that as you approach you are walking uphill and you actually start seeing the FAR side of the canyon rising up over the horizon … and it is IMPRESSIVE. Also, there are trees. I kinda thought the canyon was in the middle of the desert, but there is a national forest there called Kaibab. Who knew!? So, after getting to some various lookout points and exploring the views and some harrowing climbs off the trail, we had lunch at a pretty neat restaurant that looks out into the canyon.
After those initial hours we did some of the bus tour to see some other view points. We did a super fun and awesome bike excursion. I cannot recommend this enough, super awesome way to see the canyon! We had a fancy dinner, met a Shoshone couple (more on this in a minute), saw some mule deer, did some minor hiking, found a thing called the Desert View Watchtower, and I did some mid night sky watching when the moon went down (awesome!).
A really neat part of the trip was meeting that Shoshone couple. My friend and I had reservations at a nice restaurant and we got there a bit early. As we are prone to do, we found the bar to have a couple drinks. We were looking for a nice quiet secluded spot for her journey but were having trouble navigating the crowds. That couple at the bar next to us overheard us and pointed us to this spot called Shoshone Point. It’s off of a trail outside of the the main tourist area and was unmarked with a small, very easy to miss parking spot. They told us one of their myth stories and that this was a very special spiritual place to their people. SUPER COOL!
Overall impressions: Pros include stunning scenery, great views, many things to do, wide open spaces, great weather in the Spring, important cultural heritage. Cons include it’s a bit far off of a convenient lodging path, and lodging there is expensive, it’s pretty touristy, and with that comes crowds.
The Adventurer Final Word:
Five Stars, an absolute must see.