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I had wanted to see the Grand Canyon ever since I saw pictures of it in my “Children’s Atlas of the World.” Yeah I had one of those. I was a geography geek ever since I was little, what can I say? ;p It’s labeled as one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, being over 1 mile deep, 10 miles across north from south, and 2,770 miles east to west. Finally, after 34 years on this planet, I was getting my chance to see it for the first time!
Arriving at Grand Canyon South Rim
I has visions in my head of driving through a desert landscape of red rocks, and seeing the great, amazing, awe inspiring Grand Canyon in the distance! Well, I was completely wrong on that account. Driving to the Grand Canyon was way greener than I ever imagined, and there were no views of the canyon till you got up close-and I mean like, get to the parking lot, get out of your car, and walk right up to the edge! Evergreen trees were left and right, along with other shrubbery. It was no green east coast USA, but it certainly didn’t look like a desert to me. The route we took to get there was an hour drive, almost straight north from the town of Williams on Route 66, to the South Rim.
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.
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 so many trees on either side you really couldn’t see the canyon. Keep an eye out as you drive for wildlife though. Elk and mule deer are frequently spotted-we saw both during our trip here!
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.
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 anyway. It was early October, and 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 what you come all this way to see!
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.”
Mather Point is named after Stephen T. Mather, who was the first appointed National Park Service director, in May 1917.
It was an incredible sight. All of the colors in the rock, the enormity of it, I just can’t say “wow” enough times. I’m going to repeat that overheard phrase here of, “pictures just don’t do it justice” because it’s true…they’re such a pale comparison it’s crazy. You have to see it in person. Like, in 3D. With all your senses. Of course I had to post and show you a bunch of pictures anyway..because, how can you not take pictures of this amazing natural wonder!?
Now go! Book that trip already..it’s worth it!
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