Trying to decide what to write about each week as I blog my way through the alphabet has brought up a lot of terrific memories of family vacations and road trips from the past several years. With the letter G this week I had a bit of a tough time deciding on which location I would write about but I settled on the Grand Canyon after looking through our photos and remembering our visit there.
I also discovered that Grand Canyon National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday this year (2019) with special events throughout the year. Looks like this might be just the time for a return visit!
Back to my original post about our first visit to the canyon. Arriving at the park late at night after a day of driving we were super excited to catch our first glimpse of this infamous canyon. Although it was dark we could see the rock walls as we walked along the access road, being careful not to slip on the icy path (even though we were visiting in mid-August. Sadly, we didn’t get any pictures from that night but we made up for that the next day.
I have to admit, I was a little nervous walking out to the viewpoints with a two-year-old in a stroller. My daughters assured me these were not dangerous and that they never hear of anyone falling in (of course as I was doing some research writing this post I read that three people have done just that on the last three weekends!)
So, getting back to me being nervous, we didn’t hang too close to the edge but we were still able to enjoy the expansive vistas and the amazing colors of this spectacular gorge and UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. We are so fortunate to live within driving distance to such beauty.
We were also pleased to see how much else there was to explore and discover during our visit. It wasn’t too crowded the day of our visit so we were able to drive from one area to the next and not take the bus so that was easier with the little guy and his stroller but I understand it’s getting to be much like Zion or Bryce these days for parking so the bus may be your best (only) option in high season.
Our first stop was at a set of ruins about a mile from the south rim, the Tusayan Ruins Large Kiva represents an ancestral Puebloan community that flourished about 800 years ago. There was still dig activity going on during our 2009 visit so we were able to see the crews as they worked. A fortunate happenstance for sure.
After checking out the ruins we headed toward The Watchtower. This tower and building were designed by southwestern architect Mary Colter who said,
“First and most important, was to design a building that would become part of its surroundings; one that would create no discordant note against the time eroded walls of this promontory.”
Overseeing the entire project, Ms.Colter made sure the stones didn’t create an eyesore against the backdrop of amazing beauty. Having seen this in person I can assure you she did a masterful job. Again, things have changed since our visit in 2009, the Kiva room that had been used as a gift shop for many years was returned to the open and airy space as it was originally intended. A spot for travelers to relax and enjoy the view. I look forward to seeing this on a future visit.
While EJ was eager to climb up the stairs to the tower, the adults in the party were a little nervous. The steps are stone and curve around the outside of the tower so V3 decided to carry her little guy up and down them rather than let him scramble up himself (he made sure to let us know that he could have managed on his own). I love the Hopi paintings that you can see throughout the tower and building.
Another neat feature of the tower is the Reflectoscopes that allow you to view and photograph the canyon from a different view. Originally these were created from black onyx and were used by landscape painters in the 1700s to condense and improve the color of large vistas. They are just one more way to experience the beauty of the area.
I thought you might enjoy the video below from the National Parks Service about the Watchtower. NPS does a great job with their videos. Lots of great images and history included.
I know I have only touched on the beauty of this space but hopefully, it will tickle your interest and perhaps have you add a visit to the Grand Canyon to your bucket list (if it isn’t there already)!
After all, everyone should visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lives. We even ran into a famous visitor on our trip. We got back to our hotel to see on the news that the president had been at the park within hours of us. What are the chances?
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