Day 14 – Tuba City to Grand Canyon Village
Last night’s dinner was interesting as we both tried local Navajo dishes. Can’t say I would be in a hurry to try them again. A popular fry bread seems to accompany everything (even some of the breakfasts). This bread is a bit like a fried tortilla. I ordered a steak wrapped in this fried bread and Chris had beef and chicken enchiladas- bright red, don’t think I have seen such colours on a plate!
Left Tuba City on way to Colorado then turned off onto the US64 following the signs for the Grand Canyon, one of the anticipated highlights of our tour.
Our first stop was Little Colorado River Gorge at an altitude of approx 5,000 ft. This was our first sight of what was to come. It was lovely, with the Colorado river running quite fast through the bottom of this gorge, a very red mud colour after all the rain yesterday. Heading in towards the canyon Chris commented wow that was only a gorge – wait till we see a Canyon!
Climbed up to 6,000 ft very quickly and reached another plateau of Greenery. More trees, as far as the eye could see, in every direction. We were in the Kaibab National Forest, south of the Grand Canyon.
We entered the Grand Canyon National Park from the East at 6,500 feet and temperature had dropped to 49F. Our first view point was Desert View Watchtower. It was as spectacular as we had imagined, although the view was obscured in part due to the clouds.
However, we had met people in Tuba City earlier that day and they had been to the Canyon the previous day and it rained non-stop and they saw hardly any views. So we were grateful for seeing any view and as the cloud moved in, the wind increased to clear it away and the views improved.
We left Desert View and stopped at the next viewpoint, Navajo Point and the clouds were now rapidly starting to clear. However, the tourists were arriving and we were greeted with the inevitable coach tours,bringing a lot more people. We pulled into the Grand Canyon Visitor Centre and could not find a parking place! It was midday so we decided to head onto the Village, get parked up at the hotel and get out onto the Rim Trail, hopefully ahead of the crowds.
We managed to park (in about the last space) at the Village. We decided to walk along the Canyon Rim trail and take in the scenery. We were not disappointed, the Rim Trail itself was not busy and despite a steep climb from the village to Angel Bright Trail Overlook it was an easy walk along a good surface under foot. We stopped to take in the views and had our picnic lunch. As requested we made sure we left no food or rubbish despite a large raven closing in and watching us hoping for some scraps!
There were people at the Village and the Visitor Centre who were preparing for long, serious hikes. We were told it is a 4 hour trek down to the Colorado River, but you need to allow 12 hours to get back up! So you need to stay overnight if you want to get to the river. There were some other shorter trail walks into different areas of the Canyon, but with my dodgy knees and the undulating rocky surface that was not for me.
We decided to take advantage of the excellent system at the South Canyon where you can walk all of the South Rin Walk, a total of 7 miles, or you can choose to walk a section and get a hop on hop off bus to different view points.
We decided to do a combination of walking and the bus. We stopped off to take in many of the viewpoints.
The first Europeans to discover the Grand Canyon were the Spanish in 1540. I was left wondering what an earth they must have thought when they happened across it!
I am not going to try and describe the views here, they are just too overwhelming to do justice to, and are literally like nothing else on earth. All I can say is that over 4.5 million people visit here every year and for good reason!
Below are a few pictures from the amazing views, I hope they capture the essence and some of the beauty of this Canyon.
We checked into our room at the Grand Canyon Village into the Thunderbird Lodge – this was one of our extravagances of this trip, a room with a view of the Canyon. It would mean I could literally just step outside to watch sunrise!!
But first we had to experience sunset. As many day visitors started to leave, the numbers thinned out. We decided to watch the sunset by the historic El Torcal Hotel (maybe it was the lure of the bar!) rather than get on the bus again to see the view from different angles.
As the sun went down, the shadows cast different effects on the canyon which allowed us to see more detail than in the broad daylight earlier in the day.
The colours of the sky and the rocks provided a lovely back drop to a memorable day.
After dark we made our way to dinner looking up at the stars and loving the total lack of light pollution. I guess it won’t be the same in Las Vegas tomorrow night!
Before dinner we had drinks in a couple of the bars in the Village and met some more interesting people. Chris tried the local Grand Canyon American pilsner and enjoyed the live band playing. We had a healthy dinner making a change from the burgers or Mexican food we had seen over last couple of days. Chris had a salad and I had roast turkey- strange choice for both of us in October. After dinner we decided it was time for an early night. As I intend to watch the sun rise over this massive wonder of the world – being, as it is, one of the seven.
I think we will sleep well tonight, my iPhone and watch tells me today I have walked 19,059 steps over a distance of 14.75km.
Until tomorrow – Viva Las Vegas