A February 2003 trip
to Grand Canyon by Taylor252
Quote: In this journal I'm going to make the bold suggestion that you base your northern Arizona trip in Flagstaff or Williams so that many of the northern Arizona sites are within easy driving distance. There's more than a week's worth activities available!
Restaurant | "Bright Angel Lodge"
The dining room has huge plate glass windows that look right out into the canyon. It is a pleasant and beautiful way to eat lunch. When we were through, there was time to take a spin through one of the nicest souvenir shops I've been in. Lots of postcards, jewelry, and unique gifts with a wilderness theme and ideas for children’s gifts. We recommend Bright Angel Lodge for your consideration and if it is included with one of the tours you can choose from, pick this one!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 28, 2003
Bright Angel Restaurant
At Bright Angel Lodge on the west end of Grand Canyon Village (South Rim)
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
+1 928 638 2631
Attraction | "Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff"
They have an interactive exhibit hall where people can get a hands on experience called Tools of an Astronomer. They have a tour of the facility which has several buildings including the Slipher Building Rotunda, the Pluto Walk, and the historic Clark Telescope and Dome. (I say historic because this is this telescope that discovered the existence of Pluto.) Another big part of what the observatory does is education. You will see a multimedia presentation highlighting Lowell Observatory''s distinguished past, historic discoveries, and current research. There is an amazing gift shop which is fully stocked with astronomy-related books games, gadgets, clothing and such.
But I discovered they had an additional program that would make my husband the happiest "nut" around! They have a special presentation, at night, where you can look through the big Clark telescope yourself! (Book several months ahead for best selection of nights.) You and your group get the services of both an astronomer who works at the observatory and an assistant who will help you locate objects in the sky. We saw Saturn, a distant galaxy, and the Orion Nebula, among others.
There are two presentations an evening of 1.5 hours each. Your group can be as large as 15 or as small as one. The cost is $125 for the first person and $4 for each additional person. I didn''t tell my husband I had booked this until the evening we arrived. It was a great moment when we walked into the dome and he realized what was up! So, I''ll close by saying that this was a highlight of the year for my husband and a definite high for the rest of us as well. There is much more info at their website, so take a look if you''re heading that way. Great traveling!
1400 Mars Hill Road
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
Attraction | "Meteor Crater"
The museum has displays of actual meteor fragments as well as computer driven interactive displays. You can enter the name your state and it will show you what impact craters have been identified in your area. We are from MO and I didn't think there were any craters near us. I was wrong. They have identified two, one fairly close to us. However, they are both over 100 million years old. There is also an area dedicated to our space program where pictures of all the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo crews are available. In addition, there is one of the space capsules in the courtyard.
But of course the star of the visitor center is the crater itself. The crater is over 4,000 feet across, 2.4 miles in circumference, and 560 feet deep today (the initial depth was closer to 700 ft.). It struck the earth 50,000 year ago at a speed of approx. 40,000 miles per hour with the force of 20 million tons of TNT. The meteorite is estimated to have been about 150 feet across and weighing several hundred thousand tons. Large blocks of limestone, some the size of small houses were thrown onto the rim. This crater is so like the surface of the moon that NASA has designated it an official training site for astronauts. There are 4 nice viewing areas with observation telescopes behind the visitor center. And, there are also daily guided rim tours that leave hourly starting at 9:15am until 2:15pm. The tour goes about 1/3 a mile around the rim and is included in the admission price.
Other things to note about this site: there is an RV park on site. There is also a nice snack bar/deli and a great gift shop with souvenirs, rocks and minerals, jewelry, and fossils. Their restrooms are clean, the entire facility is handicapped accessible and the staff is well informed and friendly. We enjoyed our time there. The site is open year round and the admission is: adults $12, children (4-12) $7.
Meteor Crater (Barringer Crater)
Interstate 40, Exit 233
Winslow, Arizona 86047
The ruins here at Walnut Canyon are extremely well preserved even though it has been roughly 700 years since they were occupied. Pottery, toys, arrows, material and other things have been found. One interesting note, when archeologists come across something they can’t figure a use for, they have resorted to talking with some of the elders in the Hopi or Navajo communities. Many of the items were well known to these men, which leads investigators to hypothesize that the Sinagua may be the ancestors of these two tribes.
We were there in winter and the site was not crowded, which I like. The ranger said that at other times the opposite is true. The Actual site has two trails. One is led by a ranger and goes into the back country. (See the website for more details.) The other, the Island Trail, is the one we took. It descends 185 feet, 240 steps, into the canyon providing access to 25 cliff dwelling rooms. The trail, a somewhat strenuous 9/10 of a mile round trip, is one of the best ways to experience the park. Climbing back up can tax heart and lungs if they are weakened, so take it easy (there are benches along the way and bring water! The elevation is 6690 ft. The entrance fee is $5.00 for adults. Persons under age 17 are no charge. The website is http://www.nps.gov/waca/index.htm and the phone number is (928) 526-3367.
Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86004
Attraction | "Rails to the Rim-A Fun Trainride"
The Grand Canyon Railway is the company name for Rails to the Rim and they work very hard to give their customers a great experience. There are different classes of service on the train ranging from Luxury Parlor Car (adults $147, children $114 roundtrip) to Coach Class (adults $58; children $25). Plus there is a price break from October 15-March 31. They have a hotel at the Williams Depot, where you can stay, and they also arrange overnight lodging at the Grand Canyon. Varying packages are available at the number below or book this with AAA for special discounts. Also at the train station is a themed restaurant, Max and Thelma’s, and I recommend having a meal there. Another part of the packages you may opt for are tours once you get to the canyon. Some include lunch, some don’t, but they all take you to great overlooks.
When it’s time to come back, whether you’ve stayed a few hours as we did, or overnight, the train leaves at the same time 3:30pm. It’s "all aboard!" again and another fun filled ride back to Williams. This is well worth the price for a great day of traveling! Call 1-800-THE-TRAIN or use this website: www.thetrain.com.
Grand Canyon Railway
233 N Grand Canyon Blvd
Williams, Arizona 86046
+1 800 843 8724
St. Louis, Missouri