Grand Canyon National Park
Before reaching the Grand Canyon, we were planning to see Havasu Falls which are not accessible by car. We had no idea, so we were quite disappointed when we reached the Hulapai Lodge and the lady at the reception told us that it is about a 12 mile hike to the falls. You can camp there but you need to carry your tent the whole way. We got there at lunchtime which was already too late to start a 12 mile hike so we continued driving to the Grand Canyon.
Well, as the name implies, the Grand Canyon truly is grand. When you stand on the rim, you can't believe how vast and deep this canyon really is. You feel overwhelmed by this inspiring and quite possibly the most powerful landscape on Earth. The Colorado River carved this magnificent canyon 5-6 million years ago. It is about 440km long, and on average 90m wide and 35m deep.
You can visit either North or South Rim, with the South Rim being more popular. Despite that, we went there during the summer school holidays, and the crowds were manageable and the shuttles weren't too full. There are convenient free shuttle buses running around the Grand Canyon. You can hop on or hop off at any stop you want, wander around and then catch another shuttle to your next point of interest. You can take long walks along the canyon's rim or experience one of the many hikes available in the canyon. If you prefer to see the canyon from it's bottom, then rafting on the Colorado River should be your choice.
You can buy basic food supplies at the Market Plaza in the Grand Canyon Village but be prepared to pay premium prices as this is a National Park afterall. The food choices are very basic and to be honest quality is really lacking. There are many unhealthy choices on offer and even they lack quality so if you can, stock up before you get there.
There are a few lodges around the canyon, but we stayed at the Mather Campground which we booked well in advance as by the early afternoon it get's full. It's only a short walk away from the Mather Point, one of the South Rim's premier overlooks.
Our reccommended Points of Interest:
South Rim is more accessible from the Flagstaff or LA so we have decided to explore this rim.
This overlook is right beside the Grand Canyon Village. There is an amphiteatre where every morning many people watch the sunrise and the beginning of the new day. Just make sure you are there before the crowds to secure a nice viewing position.
Keep your eyes open as it is very common to spot an elk or other wildlife in this area. Elks are quite used to people and tend to wonder around the carpark without noticing anyone around them.
We took pictures of the canyon during the golden hours in the morning and late evening, even during the day. For sunrise we recommend either Yaki Point or the Desert View which is located near the East Entrance Station.
During the day, the sun is too strong, but if you are lucky to get clouds over the canyon, they create spectacular shades across the canyon. Grandview Point is as good as any other.