The Grand Canyon. It doesn’t really need introducing does it? That great big ‘ole gaping hole in Arizona is probably more famous than Rob Kardashian’s recent outburst on Instagram (I mean, I’m guessing).
Over 2 years ago – Christ how did that happen! – I spent a hardcore 24 hours seeing about 50% of its 277 miles from all angles and I still felt that I wanted to see more. There isn’t really a way to describe this wonder of the world in a way to make you want to see it. I mean, ginormous cave of rocky desert just doesn’t sell it. It’s just one of those places you have to go for yourself. But hey I’m gonna show you some pictures and tell you exactly how to see it anyway!
There are three obvious ways to see the Grand Canyon, one for everyone, or do all three if you’re a crazy keeno that suffers from FOMO like me…
We’re going to kick right off with the best way to get your first glimpse of the Grand Canyon. I was on a Trek America tour during my time on the West Coast and our tour guide pretty much insisted that this is the ONLY way to see the canyon in all its glory.
There are dozens of tours available lifting off from the nearby area or even from Las Vegas which I hear is also a memorable experience flying over the strip. We flew with Maverick Helicopters from the South Rim and had a wonderful pilot who kept us entertained the entire journey telling us about the canyon and his love of flying before he popped on a playlist that made us squeal with excitement.
The anticipation as you fly low over the surrounding Kaibab National Forest is incredible but the feeling as you suddenly come out, miles high over the ragged canyon below… that still gives me butterflies when I think about it today.
The experience was worth every penny, making me tear up in awe at the sights around us as our helicopter suddenly felt teeny tiny among the miles upon miles of striped rocks and cliffs below us. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen and one of the most memorable experiences from my travels.
Need to know:
Maverick Helicopter Tour from the South Rim Terminal $299
Includes views of the Colorado River flying from the South to North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park over Dragon Corridor, the widest part of the canyon.
Watch a sunrise
Next up you’ll be desperate to get yourself down to the canyon itself and so at 4.30am we raced towards the edge to watch the sun rise over the giant rocky horizon. The gigantic caves and gaps below went from complete darkness to rich warm colours as the sun turned the sky from pink to yellow.
Again this was one of the most overwhelming moments during my trip, as we all fell silent in admiration of the natural wonder around us.
There are a few popular spots to watch the sunrise around the canyon, however you can catch it along most of the edge where the trees don’t block your view dependant on the time of year.
Need to know:
Check the time for sunrises and sunsets here
Hike into the canyon
The most adventurous and active way to see the Grand Canyon is of course to get right down in it. There are a number of different hikes and none are for the faint hearted for the heat of Arizona makes for a humid trek. It’s also a tricky route to consider as of course your initial steps are downwards into the canyon in the early hours of the day when the air is at its coolest. Therefore judging your ability can be hard as I learnt!
Feeling brave and a little too much ‘YOLO!’ I braved the longest hike possible for a day, taking a few hours to reach the Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail around the South Rim. This 9 mile route took us right down into the depths and as the midday forty degree heat came, I winced looked up at the 4.5 miles leading back up to the top, no shade to be seen.
It was the hardest physical challenge I have ever accomplished, causing severe dehydration and damaging my toes for months and months after. I slept forever.
But don’t let that put you off 😉 Just be prepared and don’t push yourself too hard. There are 3 water stops between the top and the Indian Garden so it is recommended that you take at least two 1L bottles of water with you, strong sunscreen, a hat and of course suitable footwear. For those who aren’t as stubborn as me, there are a number of different treks ranging from 0.36 – 6 mile round trips.
Need to know:
For more information the National Park Service website has some very useful links here
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