Our First National Park Experience

IMG_1021We were parked 5 days at this Grand Canyon RV Park – the perfect location to explore the entire South Rim from.   From Hermits Rest to the west and Desert View to the east  – and everything in between – a total of ~30 miles / ~50 km’s.  Some places, like the Visitor’s Centre and Mather Point were visited multiple times. The South Rim definitely caters to the tourists with lodging, hotels, shops, free shuttles, train station and lots of great information.  This beautiful and very well done National Park did not disappoint!


Our visit started at the Visitor Centre where you can talk to Park Rangers, pick up your map(s) and watch the 20 minute film about the Canyon. A short walk from there to the Mather Point Amphitheater illicits the 1st of many “WOW’s”!  “There it is!”  –  in all its spectacular glory!



From the Visitor’s Centre we walked along the amazing 12.8 mile (20.6 km) Rim Trail. This is a beautiful wide paved walkway, complete with scenic observation points along the way, a Geology Museum, Visitor Centre’s, great signage, benches to rest on. Of course the Rim Trail follows the rim of the canyon, some of which is protected by railings but a lot of the path is wide open to the rim. You are warned to stay behind railings and at least 6 feet away from the cliffs. Hold on to children. Do not back up without looking around you. Always be aware of your surroundings. Common sense, right? What is it about people that push the limits to get as close as possible*?


Jacquie at The Rim

* some trick photography…

The best thing about the Rim Trail – dogs are allowed! Another best thing – the free, spring-fed drinking water available from bottle filling stations. Very cold and very delicious!



DESERT VIEW (to the East)

dv-map_556This 22 mile (35 km) drive offered spectacular Grand Canyon views, Colorado River views and the highest viewpoint on South Rim at 7,461 feet at Navajo Point.  The Desert View Watchtower is a National Historic Landmark offering 360-degree views of the canyon.



The mighty Colorado River
The mighty Colorado River

HERMIT’S REST (to the West)


The Grand Canyon shuttle bus system is FREE, comfortable, very clean and runs every 10 – 15 minutes every day. We used the red bus system to take us along the 7-miles (11 km) from the Hermits Rest Transfer up to Hermit’s Rest (another National Historic Landmark) and back.  During the busy tourist season from March 1st to November 30th there are no cars allowed on that part of the rim.  You have the option of biking, walking the rim trail or a combination of shuttle and walking – which is what we did. Some of the most spectacular, rugged views of the Canyon and the Colorado River were on this part of the rim. Unfortunately, Gracie was not allowed in the shuttle buses.

Hermits Rest


Wild life abounds and you are advised to keep a safe distance of at least 75 feet from deer, elk and California condors. Do not feed the squirrels. They will bite and can carry fleas with the plague. Approaching or feeding any animal is dangerous and illegal. There are signs everywhere but people still insist on trying to feed them. Too bad the elk can’t read – they sure liked to get close to us at the RV park!

Elk at Truck

California Condor in flight...
California Condor in flight…


The Bright Angel Trailhead accesses the steep trail with day hikes down to 1.5 Mile Resthouse, 3-Mile Resthouse and 4.5 Miles to Indian Garden Campground.  The hike to Phantom Ranch is 10.3 Miles each way and requires an overnight stay in the cabins and/or dormitories.

...down, down... Bright Angel Trail
…down, down… Bright Angel Trail

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the trails below the rim – so we couldn’t go!  While day and or overnight kennels are available for both dogs and cats it’s not something we would ever consider doing while on the road.  Thank-you Gracie & Freddie…

Some hiking tips I found interesting:

Mules and Up-Hill Hikers

Be Quiet and Respect those who seek Serenity

This was particularly true when we were hiking Hermits Rest.  With no cars allowed and fewer hikers it was so quiet and so peaceful and so humbling…


Yes – we went to a screening of this very popular IMAX film.  Excellent, original IMAX format with aerial dips and turns in the Grand Canyon and white-water rafting ups and downs in the Colorado River!  The closest you will get to the Colorado River without actually getting wet!    We talked to a couple of women who had taken a helicopter ride and they claimed the IMAX film was better!  Unfortunately, no popcorn!



… $30.00 entrance fee to get into this park.  The better deal is the $80 annual pass which gets you into all National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands.  The even BETTER deal is the +62 years senior – U.S. Citizen or permanent resident pass.   With Chuck’s U.S. passport and $10.00 we’re in.  For lifetime!


How can one ever capture the enormity and grandeur of this Natural Wonder? The colours? The views? Every corner you turn is a “WOW”! Every change in light affects the colours and is a “WOW”! Every vista is a “WOW”!  Every glimpse of the Colorado River is a “WOW”! And EVERYONE is trying to capture that elusive shot, that best shot, that perfect shot – with phones and cameras.

We certainly did our fair share of picture taking – and we had quite the duelling cameras going – Chuck’s I-Phone and my little Canon.   It was tough selecting those perfect shots I took with the Canon… BUT, hands down – the I-Phone did an amazing job on the panorama sunset shots below!

Pipe Creek Vista in the rain
Pipe Creek Vista in the rain
Grandview Point in Snow
Grandview Point in Snow
Sunrise at Mather Point
Sunrise at Mather Point
Mather Point at Sunset
Mather Point at Sunset
Sunset at El Tovar Hotel in The Village
Sunset at El Tovar Hotel in The Village

Yes, this spectacular Natural Wonder exceeded ALL expectations!  If you have never been – GO.  Be sure to stay for a few days to see ALL this Grand Canyon has to offer.


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