Grand Canyon is one of the most famous national parks in the
world. Five million people come to visit this nature wonder each
year. Over the past six million years, Colorado River cut down
through the uplifted Colorado Plateau, creating the 277 miles
long and 1 mile deep Grand Canyon. Even you have seen thousands
of Grand Canyon pictures before, you have to stand by the rim to
really get impressed by its grandeur.
Getting there ...
We had a flight to Las Vegas at about noon, and drove about 5
hours (only stopped once at Williams) to Grand Canyon south rim.
Iris was complaining in the car for almost half way through until
Linus invented the "silly sentence" game, and then we
had a smooth and joyful drive to the park.
The First Day ...
- Sunset at Mather Point
After checked in Yavapai Lodge at around 6:30PM, we
walked to the Mather Point for sunset. Instead of
following the real path through the visitor center, we
made a wrong choice and detoured to an un-paved (or
un-finished) road and we almost thought we were lost.
After 15-min short hike, we stood on the rim and enjoyed
our first sight of the Grand Canyon. The view was
amazing, the light was perfect, the only problem was that
it was too crowded. You had to squeeze in to get a place
to stand on the view point. Sometimes I was worry about
my tripod that someone might knock it down (or I might
knock someone down).
The Second Day ...
- Sunrise at Yavapai Point
I drove to Yavapai point at 4:30AM (because Arizona does
not observe daylight saving time, so we have very early
sunrise at 5:15AM). I was the first one when I got to the
view point. At about 5AM, people started to show up and
filled up the platform gradually that I was pushed to a
corner. It was kind of stange to have so many people
around during sunrise that it seemed it lost its
serenity. It was a little bit too hazy to have good
visibility of the canyon view. Five minutes after
sunrise, most people just disappeared. I think they
missed the major portion of a sunrise.
- Hermit Road
The 16-mile round-trip Hermit Road is on the west side of
the south rim, and is closed to private vehicles except
for winter months. The free shuttle bus (westbound) stops
at 8 overlooks: Trailview,
Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, The Abyss, Pima Point, and Hermit's Reset.
- The Abyss
We got off the shuttle bus at the Abyss, a
3000-foot drop created by the Great Mohave Wall.
The walls of the Abyss are red sandstone that is
more resistant to erosion than the softer shale
in the layer below.
- Pima Point
We got on the next bus and got off again at Pima
Point, and began our hike toward Hermit's Rest.
This section of the Rim Trail is not paved and is
not well maintaine. But the more challenge it
was, the more Linus and Iris liked it. They were
also very interested in the lizards and laybugs
we found on the trail.
- Hermit's Rest
||It's about noon when we
reached Hermit's Rest, which was named
for Louis Boucher, a prospector who came
to the canyon in the 1890s and was known
as the Hermit. It is the end of the West
Rim Drive (Hermit Road) and the starting
point of the steep Hermit Trail which
leads down into the canyon (we didn't
even think about it). We had our lunch
picnic here and enjoyed the ice cold
drink from the vending machine.
- Mohave Point
On the way back, we got off at Mohave Point and
planned to hiked back to Canyon village. The
trail condition is much better than the section
between Pima Point and Hermit's Reset. It was
quite hot and dry today that we decided to stop
at Hopi Point and took the shuttle bus back.
After we were back to Yavapai Lodge and took a short
break, we walked to the new visitor center (Canyon View
Information Plaza). I was quite disappointed with the
visitor center: it's a big new building without much
interesting exhibition inside.
- Sunset at Grandview Point
We drove to Grandview Point on the Desert View Drive, and
hoped that there will be less people. We were wrong. The
parking lot were full and there was no space left on the
viewpoint. We walked down a few steps and found us a
place below the viewpoint platform.
The Third Day ...
- Sunrise at Hopi Point
Hopi Point is considered as one of the best view points
along Hermit Road, and because it juts out into the
canyon, it is also one of the best spots for sunrise and
sunset. I took the earliest shuttle bus (4:20AM) to Hopi
Point on Hermit road. There were only 5 of us on this
bus. At about 10 minutes before sunrise, there came a
"sunrise" tour bus and full of tourists.
Although I prefer a more quiet and tranquil morning,
everyone enjoyed the moment. 10 minutes after sunrise,
the "sunrise" tour bus took off and most people
I hiked down from Hopi Point along the Rim Trail. It's
about 2.2-mile easy walk with most time gradually downhill.
The view with the early morning light was the best rewards
for me to get up so early.
||Bright Angel Trail
- Desert View Drive
The 46-mile round-trip Desert View Drive is on the east
side of the south rim. It passes Yaki Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Navajo Point,
and Desert View.
- Tusayan Ruin
|Tusayan is the remains
of a prehistoric peublo that was home to
a small group of perhaps 30 people some
800 years ago. A small archaeology museum
displays ancient artifacts typical of the
canyon. A self-guided short trail passes
through some ruins of stone structures.
- Desert View
The stunning vista from Desert View takes in a
long stretch of the Colorado River, part of the
gorge of the Little Colorado River, and the
Vermillion Coliffs about 50 miles to the north.
The 70-foot tall watchtower, a stone tower built
in 1932 by architect Mary Colter (who also
designed many other building in the canyon
including Hermit's Rest), has an authentic
ceremonial room (or kiva) decorated with Indian
murals. We climbed to the top of the tower which
has 360-degree views of the canyon. We then took
a short hike along the rim away from the tower. I
think the view of the distant tower was even
- Moran Point
After the picnic at Buggeln picnic area, we went
back to Moran Point. I think our eyes started to
feel fatigue after seeing miles of this strange
landscape for such a long time. Although each
view point provides its own unique view, they all
started to mix together after seeing so many of
- Rim Trail at Grand Canyon Village
||We headed back to Canyon Village
area and I decided to take them to hike a short
portion of the Rim Trail which I walked alone
this morning. We were waiting for the shuttle bus
to Hermit Road, but Linus became impatient and he
wanted to begin hiking right away. We walked up
to Trailview Overlook (about 0.7 mile one-way)
and the Bright Angel Trail was clear in the view.
When Linus and Iris are old enough, we may try to
take the mule ride down to the canyon.
- Air Tour
||I booked an air tour from Air Grand
Canyon for Linus and I (Woanyu refused
because she was afraid of air-sickness). I chose
the latest flight at 5PM because it should be
better for taking photos. We were both excited
about it and couldn't wait to get the airport.
But I made a big mistake: I forgot to give Linus
some air-sickness medicine. Five minutes after
take-off, Linus started to throw up. I noticed he
was not feeling OK right after take-off, so I was
well prepared to catch everthing he threw up. The
air tour really provided unique views of the
canyon and I would recommend it to anyone who is
The Last Day ...
- Sunrise at Lipan Point
I decided to drive to some more remote place to avoid the
crowd for sunrsie. I stopped at Moran Point first, but
did not like the angle of light, so I continued to drive
to Lipan Point. The sun rose from behind the watchtower
at Desert View, and I really like the silhouette effect
of the tower.
- Yavapi Point
After checked out from the Yavapai Lodge, we went by
Yavapai Point to say goodbye to Grand Canyon.
- Hoover Dam
We started to drive back to Las Vegas. We stopped at
Williams for gas, and Kingman for lunch, and got to
Hoover Dam at about 2:00PM. Hoover Dam was built during
the Depression from 1931 to 1936, which was 2 years ahead
of schedule. Hoover Dam is 726 ft tall, and 660 ft thick
at its base. The concrete in Hoover Dam (4.5 million
cubic yards) is enough to build a 2-lane high way from
San Francisco to New York City. There are 17 generators,
each weights 4 million pounds (as much as 4.5
fully-loaded Boeing 747-400's), in the Hoover Powerplant.
The plant has a total capacity of 2,074,000 kilowatts.
We took the discovery tour which includes several
presentations and exhibitions and a tour to the power
plant generators 500 feet down into the black canyon
wall. It was a very informative tour and we could stay
indoors most of time.
Going Home ...
We arrived at Las Vegas at 5PM so we had plenty of time to
relax and have dinner before our 6:30PM flight. The whole trip
was much smoother than I expected: Linus had a fractured toe a
week ago, Iris was having some mumps infection before the trip.
They both recovered and fully enjoyed the trip. Everything was
also on schedule as planned and in perfect timing, which included
our flight (I was impressed by the efficiency of Southwest
Airline), our driving time (so we made our first sunset at Grand
Canyon and got the tour at Hoover Dam), everyday's hike (so we
saw what we planned and did not push the kids too much), and
everyday's sunrise/sunset (so I got the photos I dreamed for).
But I'll remember to give Linus air-sickness medicine next time
when we were on any kind of airplanes.
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