The second leg of our National Park tour vacation was a two night stay at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Neither my husband nor I have ever been to the Grand Canyon. Since we were headed to Arizona, a visit to the canyon was a must.
I made our reservations during the first few days of last April. We wanted to stay in the park itself knowing that it would save us drive time and waiting in line to enter each day. I choose the El Tovar Hotel for our first night. I was attracted to the history and location of this hotel which happens to be right on the South rim of the Grand Canyon. However, only one night was available during the week we planned to go. We wanted to stay two nights. I booked the night available and went from there.
Luckily, I was able to secure a room for the second night at the Kachina Lodge, right next door to El Tovar. Both hotels were pleasant and the location could not be beat. Personally, I liked the Kachina better. The room was bigger and quieter. I think my preference was also influenced by a chaotic check in situation at the El Tovar on our first night in the park. We arrived at the El Tovar at the height of dinner reservation seeking and check in. I stood in a line for a few minutes before I realized (or, rather, was told) that it was a line for people who were seeking a room for the night. On top of it, I encountered one of the very few rude people we’ve seen on our trip. I don’t care for rude people. Once I was able to vent and time passed, I got over the lack of signage, general lack of organization to the check in process, and rude man encounter; I can say that I did like the El Tovar.
I cannot say anything about the Grand Canyon that has not already been said. Once you see it, there really are no words to describe the sight. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful and awe-inspiring. It really made me feel very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of our earth’s history. Our first view was just after passing through the park’s gate at the Desert View pull off. It just got better from there! Our first night blessed us with a gorgeous sunset, too.
We started our first full day in the park by hiking part of the Bright Angel Trail. For experienced canyon goers, you already know that this is one of the trails that descends into the canyon. We agreed that we’d go only to the first rest stop on the trail, 1.5 miles in. I was concerned by the descriptions I had read that this trial was difficult and that the time to ascend took double the time it took one to descend. We decided to be safe and conservative. For these reasons, we were delighted when the time to ascend took less time than it took to go down.
The rim trail took part of the afternoon on our first day and the morning on our second day. We considered the South Kaibab Trail but I vetoed it this morning afraid the added steepness and lack of shade would do me in. We’ll save that trail for another trip.
We ate dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge, next to the Kachina Lodge, next to the El Tovar Hotel. The park is still feeling the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wait times for meals are slower than what they normally would be even in a crowded park. There are fewer tables and less free access to the hotel bars and coffee shops. Our dinner was delicious and the service was wonderful. Our noontime meals were eaten on the trails, regardless of where we were. We planned and packed in the morning before heading out for the day. We carried water with us at all times.
We learned that by this time in October the spring water access on trails like the Bright Angel Trail and some other spots such as the Yavapai Geology Museum are turned off. It makes carrying extra water with you all the more important – especially when you are on a trail like Bright Angel. Other than that, October seems the perfect time to visit the canyon! Our weather was perfect!
The views of the passage of time carved in the stone layers that form the Grand Canyon were our stay’s biggest highlight. And, the best part of that is that those highlights will never change.