In living in AZ my entire life, I often find that people that haven’t been to the Grand Canyon and have no desire to go often refer to it as “just a big hole in the ground” and they “just don’t understand the appeal.”
If, in fact, these people were to visit this “big hole in the ground,” they’d find themselves in awe and speechless at its unrivaled beauty.
Over the Memorial Day Weekend, we took Vixie and Chalupa Batman camping at a dispersed spot just outside of the South Rim. While the Valley was aiming to be a little warm, we wound up setting camp up in the rain. It literally rained the entire time we were putting the tent up and trying to keep the rain fly over the top as we set it up…and then it stopped. Permanently. The rain literally came down only while we set our tent up. Fabulous. At least I had towels in our designated camping bin and was able to go inside and dry it up once we had it all set up.
My husband made some awesome food and we decided we were actually too tired to play games or do much more, so we headed off to get shut eye anticipating a long day at the canyon…until we went to bed and realized our air mattress developed a hole since its last use and we wound up on the ground. While it was freezing outside. The dogs (who had their own blankets) were still shivering and cold and we wound up sharing our no air mattress and blankets with two dogs. And, I still have a bum shoulder. I’m not sure either of us slept that night, but I do know that about three hours into it, my husband proclaimed that we should go home the next day instead of staying the remainder of the trip.
You read that right. We drove several hours, set up our tent in the rain, slept on the ground with dogs squished in between us (in a 6-person tent), and decided to go home the next day. BUT- not before we visited the Grand Canyon. We were so close and we had an annual pass which allowed us to bypass the mile-long line of visitors waiting to pay to get in, so we couldn’t just up and leave without going in.
So, in we went. For us, this was not like our normal visits which consist of leaving the dogs at home and then actually hiking into the canyon. There are so many trails you can explore and at some point, we will do some epic hikes that I’ll write about for you. You can experience the canyon by helicopter tour, white water rafting tours, hiking, mule trips, and so many other ways. This trip, however, was to see the canyon as most people see it: driving from viewpoint to viewpoint along the South Rim. We set out along Desert View Drive and stopped at as many as we could until we grew tired and wanted to return home.
While still not my favorite way to see and respect the Grand Canyon, this method proves the easiest for most people and absolutely does NOT disappoint. It’s easy to see why so many people are content with viewing it from the top at several different angles. It’s overwhelming, super deep, and has many layers and slot canyons that appear to extend outwards forever. But, it’s absolutely beautiful.
The South Rim is the most accessible and is open year round, unlike the North Rim (which is even MORE beautiful!) We stopped at all but maybe one or two of the lookout points and the photos here are from all of the lookouts we stopped at, combined. The photos with the Colorado River visible in them are from the Moran Point, Lipan Point, and Navajo point lookouts. There’s a map here if you want to plan your own trip of lookout photo ops. You can also see the river from the Desert View lookout.
Definitely check the website before you go because it does offer important information (example: today it’s letting me know that there’s a heat warning in effect and it’s going to be HOT. Triple digit hot. Welcome to AZ!) Bring lots of water to stay hydrated, sunscreen, and park your car in the shade if you can when you go and you’ll be fine.
From the website, here’s their short description of this particular drive that we did:
Desert View Drive is a scenic route to the east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for 25 miles (40 km) out to the Desert View Watchtower and East Entrance. Along the way:
- Six developed canyon viewpoints,
- Four picnic areas,
- Five unmarked pullouts
- Are all accessible with private vehicles,
- in addition to the Tusayan Museum and ruin site
The Desert View services area includes the historic Watchtower, which is now the Desert View Visitor Center and bookstore, the trading post and snack bar, marketplace/general store, service station, seasonal campground, and restrooms.
If you’re planning to travel this summer, stop by the Grand Canyon if feasible. You won’t regret it! And then, you can tell others that it’s more than just a big hole in the ground. It’s literally, a Grand Canyon, with lots to offer and scenery you’ll not soon forget.
Make it a great day and we’ll see you back here soon!