#23: Visit the Grand Canyon

We actually went on this trip 6 months ago…yes, I’m a horrible procrastinator…so it’s about time I actually blog about it!

I know it might be hard to believe, but before this trip, I had never been to the Grand Canyon.  I’ve lived about 8 hours away for almost 28 years and never managed to make it out there before.

We were able to take a four-day weekend over Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day Weekend for this trip to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, and Laughlin.

We started Friday with our drive to Williams, AZ where we would be staying for two nights.  I assumed Arizona is all desert, and was surprised to find that there was a LOT of snow in Williams (and the Grand Canyon).  It’s a good thing we packed some cold-weather clothes, even though we don’t really own good snow clothes (we do live in Southern California).

Williams is a cute little town and you can actually take the train to and from the Grand Canyon (that’s on the to-do list next time we visit).  Fortunately, our drive from Williams to the Grand Canyon was beautiful and it was cool to watch the Canyon get closer and closer, and because it was off-season, there weren’t very many people around so traffic was non-existent.

The first place we stopped at was Mather’s Point – and I got my first breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon.  I think I just looked for about 5 minutes in awe of how incredible this huge hole is.  Then, of course, I started snapping photos.

We decided to walk the (what we thought was) short distance to the Grand Canyon Village, with a stop at Yavapai (the first view most people get).  After sliding around on the ice on the path, we decided the best way to travel would be the free shuttles that traveled in the central area.

After eating lunch at the Grand Canyon Village (the only place around that offered food), we rode the shuttle back to our car and headed to the east end of the Canyon to Desert View, aptly named because you can see the Arizona desert to the east of the Canyon.  At Desert View, there is a big watchtower you can go up in to get a better view, but John went on that little adventure on his own while I waited at the bottom. Hey, I still think I got some awesome shots!

On our drive back to Hermit’s Rest (the western most part of the Canyon in this area), we stopped at several different overlooks (though not all – everything started looking very similar after a while).  This next photo is a formation called “Battleship” that was visible from the Grandview overlook (it’s the part at the very top).  I think it’s one of my favorite photos because the sun was getting low in the sky, so the colors were really starting to become saturated.

Hermit’s Rest was our next stop, but it was a quick one because we were trying to make it to Hopi Point for sunset (we heard it was the best spot for photos).

On our way to Hopi Point, we ran into (not literally) a few critters along the way. Seems they’re pretty active at dusk.

I had rolled my window down to take photos of this one and asked John to stop…and quickly rolled it up and told John to drive quick when it started walking rather quickly toward us.

We finally made it to Hopi Point, which was pretty packed.  We staked out our spot and I started snapping photos.  My two favorites are below.  Oh, and a friendly traveler’s tip…it gets cold at sunset…REALLY cold…so be sure to dress warm…REALLY warm if you plan to take pictures at sunset at the Grand Canyon in the middle of winter! 🙂

We had missed the Grand Canyon sign on our way in, so I asked John to stop on the way out so I could get a picture.  I had to clear the snow (with my feet…didn’t have any snow gloves) in front of the light so I could get a clear picture.

We continued our hour-long drive back to Williams and ate dinner at a cute little diner before going back to our hotel room for the night.

The next day we drove up to Hoover Dam (that was crowded…guess it wasn’t the smartest thing to visit on a holiday weekend, though we did come from the Arizona side, which was virtually traffic-free compared with the Nevada side and all the Vegas tourists).  I thought I’d have trouble walking across the dam, but I was actually okay and even leaned over the side a little to take some photos of the face of the dam.  However, there is absolutely NO way you will ever see me walking or driving across the bridge they’re building to help alleviate traffic in the area and to shut off any traffic flow across the bridge for security.

You can see in this photo below that it was A LOT warmer for this part of our trip!

At the end of the day, we headed south to Laughlin, where we had dinner and walked along the river.  I must say, I was a bit disappointed by Laughlin.  I had it in my mind that it was a lot bigger than it is – kind of more along the scale of Vegas.  I definitely don’t miss the smoke-free indoors of California, either!

The next morning I met a high school friend for breakfast (she lives across the river in Bullhead City) before we headed home, hoping to beat traffic.  We actually did pretty good, only hitting a little bit of traffic near Victorville.

It was a fun trip and now I can say I’ve been to one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world!

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