Amazing Spot for a First View of The Grand Canyon

It was the 3rd day on our 2 week trip out west.  We got up rather early, still hadn’t adjusted from US Eastern Time which was 2-3 hours different depending on where in Arizona you were. Boy was that confusing, parts of the state don’t observe daylight savings time–good thing my phone auto adjusted the time! We packed and gathered our things, ate some snacks for breakfast in the common room and said goodbye to a few of the people we met there, then left the old historic Grand Canyon Hotel where we stayed for the night- which was a great hotel, I highly recommend it if you’re even in Williams!

It was only an hour drive to the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t wait! It was one of my dreams to see it for years now. I took my camera out of the bag and got it ready and we set off on our way.

 

Getting there

Driving to the Grand Canyon was not what I expected it would look like. It was way greener than I imagined, and there were no views of the canyon till you got up close(we were driving up north from the south). Anyway, more info and pics of the drive here: On the Road Again! Williams, AZ to Grand Canyon

As you drive into the park, you have to stop at the ranger station to pay the standard National Park entrance fee. It’s $20 for a vehicle with 4 people, or you can purchase a yearly park pass for $80 which is a much better deal if you place on visiting more than 2 parks a year.

Driving to the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center

I had already gotten the annual pass, which is like a plastic credit card, so we showed it to the ranger in the window, they handed us a map and newspaper and we continued on our way. It was still a few miles down the road to the visitor’s center and any look out points, and with evergreen trees on either side you still couldn’t see the canyon. Keep an eye out as you drive for wildlife though. Elk and mule deer are frequently spotted which is pretty awesome that you have a good chance of seeing one!

 

 

We saw this Mule Deer on the side of the road

 

The Visitor’s Center

So we finally arrived at the main parking area. It’s a big lot, but I imagine in the busy season it gets pretty packed and you may have a hard time finding a spot, so always try and get there early. I think we arrived around 10-11am as we took our time The visitor’s center, gift shop, restrooms and little concession shop are right there, along with lots of signs about hikes, how long they’ll take, and how much water you should bring.

A huge map on the wall inside the Visitor’s Center.

Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center

Speaking of water, I couldn’t believe how dry it was out west! It really is a desert climate, and you really do need to drink a lot of water…along with use a ton of moisturizer on your hands, and chapstick throughout the day. It felt like the dryness of winter back where we’re from! Luckily, all the parks that we visited had water bottle filling stations. So it was great, we bought a big pack of water bottles when we first got there, and just kept refilling and reusing them!

Ok, sorry for the little sidetrack there, but it’s a good thing to note 🙂

Anyway, getting out the car, first thing we noticed…it was cold! Well, really chilly! Good thing I brought my winter jacket! We crossed the parking lot and went over to the visitor’s center to check it out. Like most, there’s the standard gift shop, and information desk, signs to read, videos, etc. Just behind the visitor’s center there was a path that lead to the rim–and that’s where we were headed!

A panorama of the walkway at the view

 

 

Mather Point

It was a short paved walk, with more evergreens, which I later learned were Ponderosa Pines and Juniper trees, and then all of a sudden, there it was. The most magnificent view I have ever seen in my life. The Grand Canyon. It truly is Grand in every sense of the word. All I could do was just stare at it for a while in silence…and just say, “Wow.”

It’s incredible. All of the colors in the rock, the enormity of it, I just can’t say “wow” enough times. No picture can convey just what it’s like. You have to see it in person, in 3D, with all your senses. Over 1 mile deep, 10 miles across North from South, and 2770miles East to West. Where we were standing, at Mather Point, the elevation was 7,120ft above sea level.

 

 

 

Mather Point is named after Stephen T. Mather, who was the first appointed National Park Service director, in May 1917. Luckily we came in the off season, there were a lot of people but not throngs of crowds, so we really got to enjoy it overall.  All else I can say is, if you have the opportunity, go. You won’t regret it. It truly is a sight everyone will be impressed by.

 

A view of Mather Point. 7,120ft elevation.


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23 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience at the Grand Canyon. I had no idea it gets chilly there! From the pictures I’ve seen, it always looks so hot! Your tips will definitely help anyone who’s thinking of visiting there soon.

  2. This post brought up all the memories I had about Grand Canyon. I visited it 10 years ago with a tour, on the way to Las Vegas. I’ve been wanting to go back again with my husband on our own. This is a great post on how to get there and where to go for the best view. I am saving this for future reference!

    1. Thanks! It’s fun to go there on your own and check out all the sites(there’s a lot to see on the South Rim alone!).

  3. This is a great post. I took a huge roadtrip out there with my family when I was a kid, and I’ve really been wanting to go back as an adult. It’s impossible to imagine the scale of the place without seeing it in person.

  4. Grand Canyon is such a special place. I’ve not spent much time at the South Rim, too crowded for me! I did hike into the canyon and camp once, and also spent 11 days on a whitewater trip through the Canyon last year. I definitely recommend going below the rim if at all possible!

  5. Those views are so beautiful and the colours of the rock are incredible! I like that there are water bottle filling stations at the national parks, as I know normally attractions and sites like this take full advantage of visitors not wanting to die of dehydration and charge like a million dollars for a bottle of water!
    I have to admit that I was kind of sad Jimmy didn’t make an appearance when I was reading this 😉

    1. Yes it was awesome about the water! Come to think of it I don’t think I ever saw that before either…thankfully our National Parks are not so wasteful like other places :S And lol about Jimmy…we actually went to the Grand Canyon before we were at Monument Valley…ah he would make a totally fun travel buddy though to have gone to all these places with! 🙂

  6. I have been to the Grand Canyon but my memory of this incredible place is muddy as I was very young. I would appreciate its magnificence much more now and especially from this viewpoint! The next time I go though I hope to do the mule camping and since there are water stations all around I think I would be good to go!

    1. Oh I’d love to ride a mule into the canyon too! Although it looks a little scary. I know you have to book them WAY in advance, so keep that in mind if you go!

  7. Wow this sounds quite magnificent! I can imagine it must be hard to put it into words to describe such an incredible view. I have only heard amazing things about this place! My friend did a helicopter ride over it last year and she said it was crazy to suddenly fly over the ridge and see it all below her. Sounds amazing!

  8. Im SO glad I came across this article! Im actually heading to the West Coast on a 3 week road trip and we’re passing the Grand Canyon area, so this secret spot has saved us, as getting the perfect photo these days is a must, (especially for instagram 😛 ).
    I also agree that you have to bring alot of water, as in those temperatures you can easily get dehydrated without knowing!

    1. Oh awesome, I hope you have a great trip! We did 2 weeks but a third week would have made it even more enjoyable. This isn’t a secret spot really, just a good one for first timers to the Canyon 🙂

  9. Great tips for the Grand Canyon! I think people don’t realise there’s so much to see. There are so many amazing views and it’s hard to decide which ones to stop at. I remember making a detailed plan and even then felt like we missed a lot! It’s amazing how cold it gets there too!

    1. Yeah, there really is so much. And really any view you stop at will be incredible! But this one right near the visitor’s center is an excellent and easy to get to first stop if you’re coming up from the South 🙂

  10. This post gives me major travel nostalgia! The last (and only) time I went to the Grand Canyon was when I was 10 or 11 yrs old while on a family road trip. I remember it being super boiling outside so we unfortunately didn’t get to stay and enjoy the views for as long as we would have liked. I would love to go back one day! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. 🙂

  11. Wow, totally got what you meant by not the way there not looking like you’re reaching Grand Canyon – the difference is vast! That’s some awesome views right there! If I were there, I’ll be going wow endlessly inside of me as well. And I think it’s useful that you stated things like the water, the dryness and it being cold – who would have thought?!? Definitely helps to get prepared!

  12. Really great and detailed post! I would really love to visit the Grand Canyon one day! Thanks for the heads-up about the dry climate…it really gets to my skin, so I guess I’ll be packing a lot of moisturizer.

  13. Ahh the Grand Canyon!! I loved reading about your experience because it reminds me so much of my own. I was really young the only time I visited (maybe 10 years old) but I remember thinking how weirdly green it was on the road there. Once I got to the real thing though, my jaw dropped. I actually hated family vacations as a kid but this sight was unforgettable. I even bought a necklace from a vendor there and still have it 🙂 such good memories!

  14. Thanks for sharing!! I live next door in California but have never been :/ Sounds like you really highly recommend it so I’ll have to add it to my list! Pinning this for when I make it there.

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