We woke with the sun at 5:30am and we were out the door and on the road at 6am. From my Mom’s place the Grand Canyon is about 2 hours away. The day before I read up on visiting the Grand Canyon, what to do, what to avoid and so forth.
We headed north on AZ 89 to I-40 and then east to Williams. We stopped in Williams for both Starbucks and gas. We had driven by here twice in the past week but never got off the highway, I wish we had. Williams is a really cute town with lots of Route 66 charm. In many ways it looks like Radiator Springs from Cars.
After stocking up on gas and caffeine, we headed north on AZ 64 to the Grand Canyon. It’s a straight shot, 1 hour of driving to the main gate. We passed through the little town of Tusayan where there are resorts, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, plus a National Geographic IMAX exhibit.
When we got to the gate there was only two cars ahead of us in our lane, and finding parking at Mather’s Point was easy. We stepped out of the car at 9:30am and said, “oh god it’s this hot already.” We made our way over to the Canyon edge with all of the other people and were kind of disappointed. It felt odd, it was hot, it was hazy from the Utah and Colorado fires, there were lots of people and it just felt touristy not magnificent.
We lingered around Mather’s Point for a little while longer until we just couldn’t take all the people anymore. Visited the book store and got some goodies and then back to our car for A/C. Craig was really feeling disappointed since this was the location he’s had at the top of his bucket list for some time.
Looking over the park map, we decided let’s give the Desert View end of the park a shot. Along the way there were several turn outs and we hoped there’d be less people.
We were right. Once we got 10 minutes down the road and past the Grandview pull out, there was almost no one. We passed a yellow caution sign like we have back here, ours have deer on them and the note “next 10 miles”, this one had a mountain lion, next 10 miles. While I like the kitties, I don’t ever want to meet that one.
As we drove on it became quite surreal. I’d look to my left as the driver and see small trees and through those the edge of the canyon. No guard rail. No fencing. If you want to go out Thelma and Louise style this was possible.
The further east you drove the more of the Colorado River you got to see. There is something amazing standing near the edge, no railing and just listening to the silence. It starts to feel mind boggling, knowing that to reach the Skywalk on the far west end of the Canyon is a 7 hour drive. The Canyon is so massive.
I tried to take pictures through the haze. I was regretting not ordering the 10-22mm lense to fully take in the massiveness of what was before us. I can see why photographers could spend days here trying to get the right photo.
We made it to Desert View and it was worth the drive. We went up in the tower looked around. I got some more goodies as gifts. The heat though was really starting to affect us. Craig’s voice was officially gone, and I was wilting with cotton mouth. At the general store I got Gatorade and water. We chugged as much as we could before leaving the store’s A/C.
Officially exhausted and now 2:30 in the afternoon we headed south and back to my Mom’s. But not without a stop in Williams to explore more.
I got a parking spot on the main street and left Craig in the car with the A/C going. I walked down the street snapping photos and visiting the fun stores along the way. Everyone was smiling and very friendly. Elvis has plenty of visitors wanting photos with him.
I coordinated returning our car rental the next day and we headed back to my Mom’s place and took a break. It was an experience and one worthy of having. We’d love to go back to the Grand Canyon but in February or March, even if it is a bit snowy.