Amble in Arizona – Part 1 : The Grand Canyon

I can’t believe I am at the bottom of the f****n’ Grand Canyon!       – Anon camper at 6:30 AM one morning.

As I mentioned before, I have never been to the Grand Canyon.

In the pantheon of America’s national park system, only Yosemite and Yellowstone rival Grand Canyon National Park as being revered throughout the world.

But I have never been.

Never occurred to fit a visit into my schedule. And I tend to shy away from popular areas.

But many friends have generously offered their homes as bases for exploring the area these past few months. A possible trip to the Canadian Rockies may be happening this fall. Another friend graciously offered his home up as a base camp in the Bay Area.  And my friend Andy suggested a Grand Canyon trip for March.

With inexpensive and quick flights between Denver and Phoenix, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

Plans were made, gear was packed and off I went to Phoenix.

Andy picked me up fro me the airport, we spent an evening at his very engaging friend’s house in Flagstaff, and we were at the Big Ditch the following morning.

A permit was procured for the Bright Angel campsite at the bottom of the canyon. A classic route and available on a weekday and earlier in the year.

My first sighting of the Grand Canyon proved to be as striking as popular opinion would have it.

We made our way down the trail. Different temperatures, ecosystems,  and layers of geology were passed.

Many photographs were taken along the way.

The pace we set was quick and efficient.

But I was not going to spend my first time in the canyon seeing how fast I could get to the bottom.

The different layers and plateaus of the canyon proper revealed itself more and more as we made our descent.

And we were not the only ones in the canyon soaking up the views.

California Condor

We went further into the canyon.

The Colorado River appeared.

The most famous, historical,  important, and storied river in the American West.

And at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, it still has at least a little semblance of its former wilder nature.

The ancestral Puebloans would live in the canyon when it was more temperate.

We made it to the Bright Angel campground. A historic area. But I must confess it reminded me of a car camping area somehow placed at the end of a good hike.

It was not wilderness, but it was in a beautiful area.

Once I made the mental shift to understanding the nature of Bright Angel, I was able to enjoy the canyon bottom proper.

The following morning, we heard someone exclaim with much joy and gusto: “I can’t believe I am at the bottom of the f****n’ Grand Canyon!”

Indeed.

We would do a day hike to Roaring Springs and back. A solid hike and a way to see the canyon with a bit fewer people this time of the year.

Raven at a campsite towards the North Rim.

We reached our turn around point and hiked back to the camp.

But we took a side trip to Ribbon Falls first.

We had to ourselves and enjoyed the panorama found in the canyon.

The following morning we hiked out via a different trail.

The deer are on the NPS payroll apparently!

The Colroado River was crossed for the last time on this trip.

We climbed up out of the canyon and passed Indian Garden.

I had a permagrin on my face. As such that people going down into the canyon noticed it. I was in a cathedral. And not abashed to show to show how much joy there was to be had in being in the canyon.

The rim was reached.

A last look was taken into the canyon from a hiking trail.

Time to play windshield tourist…

Some more Puebloan dwellings were seen.

Some views were taken from the rim…

Homages to old Puebloan buildings seen

And one last view taken before heading back to Phoenix for a trip to the Superstition Mountains.

My first time in the park was not wilderness.

But it was enough to see the grandeur and what made this place is so special.

I’ll be back. And hope to see it a little more of the canyon off the beaten path.

But the little  I’ve seen has convinced me that the Grand Canyon is a special place.

I won’t wait twenty years for my next visit.

All the photos

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6 Replies to “Amble in Arizona – Part 1 : The Grand Canyon”

  1. Excellent! I just visited for the first time, as well, in February – which similarly was met with fewer crowds and the ability to [easily] get permits! It looks like you didn’t have any/much snow at the top too. The winter/early spring is such a great time to visit, I wish I had known about it earlier when getting denied multiple times for permits in April…

    Cheers to friends who invite you to stay near awesome outdoor playgrounds!

  2. Work will have me in Arizona for 4 months over the summer. I’d like to at least make a stop at the Grand Canyon. Then hopefully, I can make it back for a longer trip one day.

  3. For very much off the beaten path, try the New Hance Trail. I did this last May and did not see a single person for two days. Permits were also very easy to get.

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