A February 2001 trip
to Grand Canyon by MichaelJM
Quote: The trip was built around a stay in Vegas. And what a contrast to the glitz and glamour when compared with the awesome natural beauty of this amazing canyon.
Reception was a grand affair with a large, roaring log fire—very welcoming on an icy February night. The staff was extremely pleasant, and on our arrival, they suggested that we view the sunset before registering—we were grateful for that advice—and return to warm up round that fire before signing in.
Access to the cabins was via the great outdoors, and there were several rooms per cabin. This did give the impression of hostel-type accommodation, but as our cabin room was only a few paces away from the canyon view, we could forgive that. The availability of the view was their real raison d’être.
The room was not lavish, but I guess you could describe it as "adequate". There was a standard double bed which took up most of the room, TV, and tea/coffee-making facilities. What more did we need? We were here for a single night and had brought minimal luggage with us. There was a real country feel to the room, which was decorated like your grandmother might have done. Canyon photographs on the wall served as a reminder of your environment—not that we really needed it! Perhaps it was intentional to keep a 1930s feel to the place. The shower room "did its job", although I do have a dim memory of the water taking a considerable amount of time to warm up in the morning.
The restaurant, with its heavily wooded interior, serves "good basic fare" in a no- nonsense American manner. The menu is fairly comprehensive, consisting mainly of "fast-food", much of which is heavily spiced. The range of puddings was extensive.
After watching the sunrise, we took breakfast in the restaurant. We had a fantastic view overlooking the canyon, and it was just great to be warm and cosy, being plied with fresh coffee and plentiful fresh food, whilst looking at the crisp snow on the canyon’s edge.
After breakfast, we took a gentle stroll in the "grounds" of the lodge. We checked out the rim-side view from the original cabin (apparently, this is the oldest structure that has continually been in existence) and were delighted to see the gigantic icicles hanging from the roof’s edge.
Before leaving, we checked out the extensive souvenir shop in the lodge. Prices didn’t seem too expensive; we bought a "dreamcatcher", and my cousin bought a "soundtrack" of original native Indian music. That gave us atmospheric music as we toured the canyon and is featured in many of our video shots!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 3, 2005
Bright Angel Lodge
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Attraction | "Sunrise & Sunset at the South Rim"
We approached the national park with minutes to spare before sunset. We parked the car and ran towards the edge of the canyon to watch the sun disappearing over the horizon, changing the colours of the canyon from bright oranges to lilac and purple hues. Indeed in minutes the whole appearance of the canyon was transformed, with a marvellous gradation of colour across the rock formation and the sky. It was almost as if the sky was reflecting the canyon’s form.
Now the bad news: If we wanted to see sunrise, we would need to be on our way by 4:30am. Ouch! We were determined to go for it, although I’m not sure that my cousin was quite as committed to this venture as we were, and we were up and ready in the cold darkness of Bright Angel’s car park. Yaki Point was the recommended venue, and we arrived in good time to join fellow nature-lovers. It was so cold that icicles were almost forming on the noses of the assembled group as we waited, cameras at the ready, to witness a new dawn. At the appointed minute (and I’m sure it was dead on the predicted time), the sky began to change in appearance. The sun was rising from our right, behind a large outcrop, and a stunning purple spread across the lower horizon; slowly, a glint of brightness showed through from the right. I shifted my feet in the crisp snow and tried to convince myself that coldness was only a state of mind (not so since I’m virtually shaking with the extreme coldness), and then the sky is illuminated with a semicircle of bright yellow, with the snow on the distant outcrops reflecting back its whiteness to us. This is an experience that should not be missed. My wife’s dream of a white canyon was now a reality, and I’m not sure that I’d want to see it any other way.
We return to the car with our teeth chattering, and there, as we are leaving Yaki Point, behind some bushes was a baby deer. She stood perfectly still, as if frozen to the spot, and posed beautifully for me as I rushed for my camera. What a great start for our morning!
After a warming drink, we investigate the area around Bright Angel. We feel as if we are dancing with danger as we stroll along the cliff top – there are no barriers here, just a sheer drop to the granite gorge below. And there built into the canyon side is Lookout Studio, designed by Mary Colter back in 1914. Again she managed to blend a manmade feature into nature’s creation.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 2, 2005
Grand Canyon South Rim
Grand Canyon, Arizona
Attraction | "Climbing the Watch Tower"
The main tower has an interesting array of different size windows that appear to be randomly placed around the walls. I’m sure that it probably had something to do with the impact of the lighting, giving a cave-like feel to the building, but more likely, I suspect, it had something to do with the routing of the internal staircase and the available view from inside. The external impact is one lacking in symmetry, but I guess Colter would have wanted that as well.
We entered a large circular room with a heavily logged ceiling and a ladder leading to a false opening. There’s a roaring fire below a large picture window (how do they do that?) and spaces to sit around or check out the souvenir shop. Apparently this room is very similar to how it was in the 1930s, and there’s a terrific view through the windows. Indeed at one point it felt as if I was hanging over the precipice as I took in the framed vista of the canyon.
I left my wife and cousin in the souvenir shop as I accessed the main tower. This room has one heck of a tall ceiling, and around the walls are a number of balconies that cling to the sidewalls. A steep narrow staircase has to be negotiated to progress up the levels, and you’ll get a glimpse of the view as you pass the small irregularly spaced windows en route. The ceiling hides the top floor, and I now appreciated that my climb to the top has been rewarded with magnificent views across the canyon through large picture windows. This is superb countryside, but I guess I knew that before I started to climb the staircase! But the view is not the only reason for visiting the tower, as the inside is superbly "decorated" with Aztec-like murals. The images depict the folklore of the Hopi tribe, as painted by Kabotie, an Indian artist, and their raw expressionism fit beautifully with the tower’s construction and the rugged external landscape. Shaft of natural light from the randomly placed windows do a perfect job in creating an appropriate atmosphere, and the gentle strains of Indian piped music confirm the ambience. There are loads of images to ponder over and enjoy.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 4, 2005
Desert View and Watchtower
Grand Canyon, Arizona
This engineering masterpiece is aesthetically pleasing and appears to be at one with the surrounding scenery. Perhaps it enhances nature? The dam, at 726 feet high, is one of the tallest in the world, and, standing at the top, you cannot help feel admiration for the workmanship as its sleek, curved wall sweeps down to the river below. On the other side of the bridge, the mighty bright blue waters of Lake Mead reflect the glorious rugged rocks of the canyon side.
Not only was the Hoover Dam a masterpiece of mechanical engineering but also social re-engineering. It was built out of the Great Depression and would provide thousands of jobs in the desert wastelands of the Mojave Desert. However, the downside was that over 100 people died in the 5-year construction period, and it is rumoured that at least six are buried in the actual construct of the dam (we were told it was vital that there was a continual flow of concrete for each section and that the process was not stopped if someone fell in!) Macabre? Yes, but no one seems really sure if it’s the truth.
What I can be sure about is that the original settlement town of Ragtown is buried under gallons of water in Lake Mead, and from what I’ve read, none of the workers would have mourned its demise, as they were appreciating the far better quality of life that they found in the purpose built town of Boulder City. Boulder is now a distant suburb of Vegas and comes with its own casinos, shopping centre, and nightlife. But I digress!
There’s an interesting visitor centre that will give you all the information (technical or otherwise) that you could possibly want, and the upper observation deck gives terrific views of the dam, Lake Mead, and the river valley.
Halfway along the bridge you can play around with the time zone. I spent some time chatting with my wife for an hour after I’d already spoken and clocking her reply an hour before she had spoken (know what I mean?). At least I would be ready to give her the correct answer when I next heard the question! I am sure I wasn’t the only mad tourist playing around the time zone, but my wife assured me that I was. Never mind, who will ever know?
We’re not too interested in the technical stuff, but we found the visit to Hoover Dam interesting, and above all, very scenic. The new landscape looks tons better than the original barren land – not often said about progress!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 5, 2005
US Highway 93 at the Nevada-Arizona border
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
Attraction | "A hairy Drive back to Vegas"
We regularly stopped to admire the views, but after a time, the consensus was that we were "all canyoned up," so we headed downhill towards the Painted Desert, so-named because of its eerie appearance as the sun begins to set. In full sunlight, we saw some amazing hues across the canyon, through to a large, imposing plateau that overlooks the region. This is different scenery, and it’s well worth taking your time to appreciate the bright hues as they are reflected off the rocky crags.
The inspiring landscape of the canyon and the Painted Desert gives way to the barren Mojave Desert, speckled with pockets of gleaming white snow. But then, there is a dramatic change in scenery—the side of the road is lined by a linear forest of evergreens, their branches heavy with snow. This is great countryside, and every so often, we see deer peeking out from the trees and large birds hovering above. But nothing lasts forever, and soon we are driving on a long, boring stretch of road cutting its way through the desert. Our wives are sleeping contentedly in the back of the car.
Auto cruiser is operating, with the speedometer holding constant at 75. Strange, I thought the limit was 60, but my American cousin confidently states that he is allowed a little latitude. I glance back to view the Nevada Hills and almost simultaneously feel the car braking, watch our wives waking, and see a police motorcyclist signalling us to stop. The officer dismounts, and my cousin unfurls his 6½ feet of body out of the car and reaches into his pocket for his drivers license. Virtually at the same time, the officer draws his revolver, and within seconds, my cousin is spread-eagled on the back of the car. My heart is pounding.
A serious discussion is taking place, and I’m worried because the car hire is in my name. The police officer walks to my side of the car to check out the paperwork. No problem—I’ve been clutching it for the last few minutes! He studies it, leans forward—my pulse rate increases, as I’m not used to seeing gun holsters so close to my face. "Some advice," he says. "Never do what your cousin did. Just wait in the car with your hands in view until you are told what to do." I smile politely and prattle on inanely about the need to place your hands on the dashboard and the vulnerability of the lone police officer. He reciprocates with a great grin and invites us to "have a nice day." My heartbeat returns to normal, and we carefully drive off to Vegas!
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on January 8, 2005
West Rim Drive
West of entrance to Grand Canyon Village, extends to Hermit's Rest
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
No phone number avai