Ever since The Husband and I have hit the road towards the West Coast, we’ve wanted to hit that great hole in the ground – The Grand Canyon.
The first attempt, we failed miserably. We underestimated the distance of the canyon from Show Low, AZ. Remember that quaint mountain town where life was unbelievably slow? It was a 3-hour one way trip and the sun was already setting. We settled for a smaller (definitely not lesser) National Park, the Petrified Forest, which was an hour away from Show Low.
The second time we tried, we were just too pressed for time. There was a 10-hour road trip ahead back to Texas and no more time to enjoy the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. We decided to pass it up and drive on.
The third time was the charm, as they’ve said. It really was. The Husband and I planned well and made it!
Did it cost you anything to get into the park?
Since we came in with a car, it cost us $25 entrance fee, which covered the car (parking) and everyone in the car: The Husband, myself and Obi. Yes, dogs are allowed! But within certain areas of the park only and on a leash, of course.
What do you suggest we prepare for a quick trip inside?
Well, we spent half a day in the Grand Canyon National Park and we barely scratched the surface.
Apart from the $25 entrance fee, it is best to wear your most comfortable walking shoes ever. I must admit that I didn’t think that we’d walk that far. I thought it was one of those stopovers where you’d snap a picture for posterity and drive off. But we didn’t. We walked at the edge of the South Rim (There’s another side to the park – The North Rim) and covered around 6 miles of leisurely walking.
It would be great to slather a lot of sunscreen beforehand, wear a breathable hat with lots of coverage or have an umbrella (The Asian way!) and sunglasses plus bring a reusable water bottle. We walked around noon, so we were burnt to a crisp after.
The Grand Canyon park does not sell any bottled water for environmental reasons. Duh. They encourage you to BYOB (bring your own bottle), which you can fill with spring water at stations scattered around the park. The water is always cold and tasted very, very clean. No chlorine after taste!
Though there are food establishments within the Grand Canyon park center (we ate at a Mickey D’s after), you can bring your own food and have a nice picnic at tables near the viewing deck or make a stop under some trees and setup a blanket for an old fashioned picnic.
Don’t forget your camera ok?
Of course, bring your mobile phone, but note that not all providers have coverage within the park. The Husband uses T-Mobile, while I use AT&T, which both did not have any signal inside the park. I am not sure, but I think Verizon has coverage within the park as I saw some people, who were on their phones inside the park. Can any Verizon user confirm this?
When is the best time to go?
We were there at the tail end of winter, entering spring, so the weather was perfect. Sunny, but not too hot, nor cool. I wish it were cooler, but it was manageable.
But it is best to check the Grand Canyon Park website before heading over because weather plays a big factor in the park’s operations.
To date (as of May 3, 2015), the other side of the Grand Canyon, the North Rim, is still closed.
IMHO, I think the tail end of winter and the start of fall would be the best seasons to visit. I don’t think that I can take the scorching Arizona heat, even if the park is on higher ground.
What to do inside the park apart from picture taking?
Oh, walk. A LOT.
It helps if you have a keen interest in nature, specifically rocks and wild life. It is a great place to learn about the formation of the canyon, the different kinds of rocks that are there, the species of birds, mammals and reptiles that live inside the canyon.
If you have time, it would be best that you book a hotel INSIDE the Grand Canyon park. I would’ve loved to have seen the park at night. In a place where there was not much unnatural light, I’d think that all the stars and planets could come out to shine their brightest.
And if you are the roughin’ it type of person, you can most definitely camp inside the park, whether you live inside an RV or pitch up a tent or just roll out a sleeping bag.
How do you get there?
Best if you have your own car. It is a 20-mile drive to get to the park entrance. Yep, just the park entrance. You can walk if you wanted to. Or even take your bike or motorcycle. You’d pay $12 / person on foot or bike if you’d take that option.
The park is hard to miss because it actually has its own highway exit. So follow the signs and you will definitely get there.
Grand Canyon National Park