One of my office colleagues had visited the Grand Canyon. Pictures on social media from his trip inspired me to plan a trip to the canyons. I also recall a friend stating this is where the last of the first nation lives and breathes to date.
It has been a little more than a year in the United States. I am yet to meet an indigenous person. It bothers me because my blog was all about exploring the cultural nuances of a new place. I was taken aback by the States. What do I write about this country? To understand its present, I need to figure out what the past was like, no?
The Grand Canyon gave me a few glimpses of life back in the days of the wild WILD west.
We headed to Phoenix. Like the Biblical bird that rises from the ashes, Phoenix is periodically scorched during summer months every year. I am talking of temperatures soaring above 100 degrees (42C my friends).
We stayed put in the hotel room till the night lit up. We rented a car from Hertz, a GMC SUV and headed straight to Tusayan.
Now, you could stay at Flagstaff for the night. It is a beautiful touristy city at an elevation with Gray Mountain towering over it. There is much to do at Flagstaff but the Canyons are a couple of hours drive away.
We could access Mather Point right at the moment when the Sun flooded the valley with light. The Flagstaff swagsters rode on a pink jeep and stopped at those points by afternoon.
Yes, it takes more than an hour to enter the park if you are late to stand in the queue at the entry gate, especially on long weekends. Welcome to post-pandemic travel trends! Everyone and their grandma is travelling, you can’t complain!
My only travel tip for grand canyon is therefore start as early as possible. In the winter months, when day light is a shorter period, you may get the luxury of starting a late day. During summer, even sunrise is crowded.
Tusayan is the kind of small town that usually mushrooms around a prime tourist spots a lot. Very American in nature, it sprang out of nowhere, oddly finds itself standing in line with a bunch of other motels with room to accommodate many many cars. There are a couple of not so fancy dinner spots around. At 7 you should prepare to sleep because you have nothing much to do at Tusayan!
We splashed at the swimming pool during sundown. The drive from Phoenix was supposed to be for a couple of hours. It stretched a little over 5 hours thanks to massive traffic.
The next day, we headed to Mather Point at the break of the dawn. The first entry to the Grand Canyon starts at 5 am. I suggest, start even earlier so that you have the blue hour. The crowd was negligible. The shuttle buses had started to ply almost empty. The canyon was awashed with first rays of the sun.
It was beautiful.
However it was beautiful in a way that we all have seen at many other places. I mean the dangerously bent Indus curving his way through the Himalayas, or the glistening Mosi O tunya (Victoria Falls) under a starlit sky look no less wonderful. “It looks like a huge hole”, a fellow traveler said in rather disappointment.
Why did we come all the way to see this? If you are a savvy traveler you might ask yourself this question.
We found the answer in a while, when we started to explore the many view points along the South Rim of the Canyon.
The South rim divides into two branches. The Westbound Red Branch was only open to tourists who ride the free shuttle bus. Bus goes every 15 minutes. It goes till the Hermit’s point from where you can take a 5 mile hike into the canyon. I suggest start early in the day. The Sun is brutal in Arizona as the day progresses.
On the Eastern side, you can take the Violet route of bus, and explore till the Watchtower view point. At this point, the Canyon approaches the plain land.
It is along the many points along the Canyon, we got glimpses of the Colorado river, its great rapids and the fierce fearsome rapids that had curved its path for more than 250 Million years. At the deepest point of the Canyon you find Vishnu Schist, the oldest rock that dates back to 2 billion years! Can you even imagine!
I told you, Grand Canyon slowly grows on you. It makes you question the meaning of your existence at the face of this huge universe. I mean how do I even matter? Standing at the corner of the Grand Canyon was in many ways like witnessing the Milky Way unfold her history.
One has to see the Canyon, its all its might and vulnerability. In its prime and its ancestry.
From the Grand Canyon, we headed towards the city of Page .
Unless you are hiking, there is no point of spending more time at the Canyon. One golden hour photo opportunity and a handful of viewpoint visit should do it for you. Both for the memory and the sake of Instagram.
From Grand Canyon, it is another couple of hours’ drive to Page. It is a delight to drive on the Arizona highways especially during Golden Hour. The road as well as the mountains reflect red ombre hues. A few Native shops pop up by the side. A few native villages can be spotted too.
In Page, we had booked few trips to the Lower and Upper Canyons from before. They charge you for toddlers too. I can not emphasize enough on the heat. Please take proper protection before you plan a trip to the Antelope canyons.
I loved the Antelopes. I have never seen anything like this in all my travel years. Albeit they are very touristy. However I recommend you see how poetic wind and water can be with the rocks!
Just a few minutes away, on the Utah highway, you will see the Glen canyon dam. This is where rich people spend there holiday on a yacht. May be a few generations down the line, we would be able to do it!
Turquoise blue water of Colorado river soothes your mind.
The state of Utah is closely. In a few hours drive you can visit the Canyonlands, the waves, old rocks with native art and a restaurant called Red heritage where they state Indigenous art and culture every evening!
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