Road Trip Day 9 – The Grand Canyon

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I probably don't even need to say this, but the Grand Canyon really is grand. Seriously. I've seen canyons before, and I thought I was prepared for the “big one.” But I definitely was not. I was blown away.

The Grand Canyon is just so VAST. It stretches on further than the eye can see, and is deeper than I ever could have imagined. And the COLORS!

Sunset at Mather Point, South Rim.

But before we get to that, how did we get to the Grand Canyon?

Originally, the plan had been to be at the North Rim for sunrise. But, at 10 p.m. the night beforehand, I simply could not fathom a whole day of driving around the canyon on only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. So, instead, we decided we'd shoot for sunset.

We left just after 9:30 a.m. from Page, Arizona, and began a twisting ride down a mountain and along the Vermillion Cliffs on our way to the North Rim.

Driving over the Colorado River got us excited!

Along the way, we stopped at Cavedwellers, which is a spot where a woman built a house next to the canyon that incorporates a few oddly-shaped fallen rocks in its design.

We eventually entered Grand Canyon National Park after a twisting drive through Kaibab National Forest, and were immediately greeted by a herd of buffalo!! Real, live buffalo! It was a great start to our Grand Canyon adventure.

Then, we finally arrived at the North Rim visitor's center, which is located within the rustic Grand Canyon Lodge. Instead of checking out the lodge, however, we immediately hit the trail that would lead to Bright Angel Point (the highest overlook point in the canyon), because some rain clouds were moving in and we didn't want to miss the view.

Walking out to Bright Angel Point.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is much, much less touristed than the South Rim, and it was evident as we made our way along the trail. Yes, we ran into other canyon visitors. But it was by no means crowded. It was almost like we were all sharing in a secret.

So, without further ado, I present to you the Grand Canyon (North Rim):

After spending some time at the North Rim, we hit the road again for the 4-hour drive around the canyon to the South Rim. Even though many swear that the North Rim is “better” because it has less crowds, we knew we had to see both sides to judge for ourselves. As the raven flies (and there are lots of them in this part of the country), it's less than 20 miles across the abyss that is the Grand Canyon. But the winding road has to go all the way around the canyon, and takes hours.

It was totally worth all the hours in the car, though. And it wasn't really all that crowded, either.

We arrived at the South Rim about an hour and a half before sunset, and were pleased to find that the clouds from earlier in the day had disappeared.

We first stopped at Desert View, which is the first spot on the South Rim where you can view the canyon if you're coming in from the east park entrance. There's an old watchtower here you can climb for even better views.

We also stopped at Grandview Point, which really did live up to its name.

About 15 minutes before the sun began to paint the sky pink, we made our way to Mather Point, near the South Rim Visitor Center. There are some great overlooks here, and the sunset was fantastic. Being at the Grand Canyon as the sun sank below the horizon was really quite surreal.

So, does the Grand Canyon live up to its name?

Absolutely. I already can't wait to go back someday.

Each day, I’ll be cutting together a quick video to show you what we’ve been up to. Here’s Day 9:

Tomorrow, it's on to explore Sedona, Arizona!

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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