Grand Canyon Journals

Spring Break at the Canyon

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A March 2010 trip to Grand Canyon by callen60

Bright Angel Trail Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona More Photos
Quote: Arizona, not Florida, for spring break. MO to Albuquerque to the Canyon and back, with stops at Petrified Forest and Sunset Crater Volcano.

Getting Started

Grand Canyon National Park

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Attraction | "Spring Break at the Canyon: An overview"

Petrified Forest National Park Photo, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Quote:
It’s hard for me to imagine now, but I used to think that the Grand Canyon was overrated. It didn’t trouble me that I hadn’t actually visited the Canyon; it seemed enough to know that it was an over-visited, over-hyped piece of Americana. I remember listening quietly to an Eastern European friend in 1982, nodding and smilingly condescendingly while he waxed on about the greatest highlight of his eight months in the US, fondly recalling his time in Arizona as he prepared to head back home to his family in Poland. I recall just a touch of internal defensiveness as I tried to sort out whether it was odd that he appreciated one of my country’s landmarks more than I did.I’m not sure what change...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 9, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park
P.o. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-7888

On the Way

Best Western Rio Grande Inn

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Hotel | "Character and Charm"

Best Western Rio Grande Inn Photo, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Quote:
Given the hours we lost to snow in Oklahoma, we didn’t spend much time at this hotel. That’s too bad, because it’s hardly a typical chain hotel: the furnishings and general design show a great deal of local character. It’s conveniently located just south of exit 159 on I-40, which gives a separation from Old Town Albuquerque that’s larger psychologically than it is physically. We arrived at the hotel at 11:15, after 16 hours of travel from Missouri, and then faced another 30-minute delay while we wrestled with the credit card fraud department by phone before getting our out-of-town purchases approved. The gracious hotel clerk was patient with us while we convinced Bank of America that we w...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2010

Best Western Rio Grande Inn
1015 RIO GRANDE BLVD NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87104
505-843-9500

Petrified Forest National Park

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Attraction | "Desert and Forest"

Petrified Forest National Park Photo, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Quote:
Petrified Forest is really two parks in one, which explains why it’s one of only two National Parks to be bisected by an interstate (nearly urban Cuyahoga Valley NP is the other). We took the exit ramp at noon on a beautiful Sunday afternoon for a look at the Painted Desert, the colorful badlands that stretch from east of the Grand Canyon and end here, northeast of Holbrook, AZ. The Desert is the attraction at the northern end of the park, which is only accessed via Exit 311 on I-40. This takes you first to the Painted Desert Visitor Center, an unusual arrangement that allows you to stop and shop without paying to enter the park. Going any further into the park requires you to pass the ent...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 1, 2010

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona 86028
(928) 524-6228

Sunset Crater Volcano Monument

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Attraction | "Arizona's dark (rock) side"

Sunset Crater Volcano Monument Photo, Flagstaff, Arizona
Quote:
San Francisco Peak is the highest of these volcanic mountains, and about it are grouped in an irregular way many volcanic cones, one of which presents some remarkable characteristics. A portion of the cone is of bright reddish cinders, while the adjacent rocks are of black basalt. The contrast in the colors is so great that on viewing the mountain from a distance the red cinders seem to be on fire. From this circumstance the cone has been named Sunset Peak. When distant from it ten or twenty miles it is hard to believe that the effect is produced by contrasting colors, for the peak seems to glow with a light of its own. John Wesley Powell, The Exploration of the Colorado and Its Canyons, 1875...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 13, 2010

Sunset Crater Volcano Monument
Route 3
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004
(928) 526-0502

At the Canyon

Desert View and Watchtower

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Attraction | "Canyon's Edge: Desert View"

Desert View and Watchtower Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Quote:
There are only three main routes to the Grand Canyon: one to the North Rim, and two to the South. US 180/AZ 64 heads directly north to Grand Canyon Village, the large developed area at the east end of the directly accessible portion of the South Rim. The more interesting route leaves the east side of Flagstaff on US 89, climbing through the volcanic region that includes Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. As Stephen Pyne observes in How the Canyon Became Grand, despite its phenomenal size (200 miles long and over a mile deep), the Canyon takes you by surprise: a significant mountain range, or the Grand Staircase of cliffs just north of the Canyon, announce their presence over hundre...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 5, 2010

Desert View and Watchtower
South Rim
Grand Canyon, Arizona

Red Feather Lodge

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Hotel | "Comfortable, Affordable, Close to Canyon"

Red Feather Lodge Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Quote:
I usually lean towards staying inside a national park, provided the rates aren’t too high and the lodging isn’t too modern. But someone else was making all the reservations on this trip, and in March, we wouldn’t be paying a premium to stay anywhere, so it was a given that we’d end up in Tusayan, the small community just south of the park.I was surprised to admit that I’m glad we did. This strip of hotels, restaurants and stores isn’t that large, probably because there are so many rooms inside the park (600 at Yavapai and Maswik Lodges alone). There are several motels here, but I’d be happy to return to Red Feather Lodge, where we spent three very comfortable nights.It’s a fair...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 1, 2010

Red Feather Lodge
300 State Route 64
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-2414

El Tovar Dining Room

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Restaurant | "Breakfast splurge at El Tovar"

El Tovar Dining Room Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Quote:
One of the travel tips I’ve picked up over the years is to enjoy a crowded or expensive place by visiting off hours: have lunch instead of dinner, or have a drink in the bar instead of a meal. Combine that with my favorite tactic of getting out the door and on the trail for sunrise, and the result was breakfast at El Tovar.This 100-year old hotel remains the Canyon's most prestigious address. Built in 1905 by the railroad, it sits in the middle of the cluster of original structures: the Kolb Brothers’ Studio, Verkamp’s Store, and Bright Angel Lodge. It’s hard to classify the building, which looks like a Bavarian-style precursor to the now-traditional National Park architecture of timber an...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 29, 2010

El Tovar Dining Room
El Tovar Lodge
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-2631

On the Trail

South Kaibab Trail

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Attraction | "South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge"

South Kaibab Trail Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Quote:
This was my first hike in the canyon, and before I returned to the rim, I was glad that it wouldn’t be my last. The short trip down South Kaibab, one of the south rim’s two major trails, was a warm up for a 12-mile round-trip down the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point. In order to avoid retracing our steps on that long hike, we started with the South Kaibab Trail, which (like Bright Angel) is broad enough and maintained enough for a group of 12 largely novice canyon hikers. In preparing for this trip, I’d entertained the idea of heading to Ooh Aah Point and back, just less than a mile down the trail. I was confident everyone would be able to handle that: no one would be aerobically overwhelmed, we’d...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 14, 2010

South Kaibab Trail
E. Rim Drive
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona 86023

Bright Angel Trail

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Attraction | "Nearly the River: Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point"

Bright Angel Trail Photo, Grand Canyon, Arizona
Quote:
For this trip, I was anxious to find as deep a dayhike into the Canyon as our group could handle. Plateau Point brings you as close as you can come to the river without violating the repeated admonition never to attempt hiking to the river and back in a day. It’s a fabulous spot, 1200 feet above the Colorado as it passes through Granite Gorge, the chute of rapids that Powell and other explorers dreaded the most on their navigations of the canyon. My appreciation for the fantastic view was heightened by the 6.5-mile hike, which gives you every experience in the canyon except that final descent to the river. On the other hand, my enjoyment was cut short by the need to get back up top before the early su...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 10, 2010

Bright Angel Trail
Begins near the main Visitor Center complex
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-7888

Heading Home

Comfort Inn And Suites Amarillo

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Hotel | "Bargain Stop on Homeward Journey"

Comfort Inn And Suites Amarillo Photo, Amarillo, Texas
Quote:
This was the travel hotel on the homeward part of our journey, and (just as on the way out) weather kept us from spending much time here. Heavy snow started somewhere near the Texas border, and by the time we finally crept off I-40 on the west side of Amarillo it was after midnight. It took me until the morning to notice, but the lobby is actually a faux Spanish courtyard, with a wrought iron balcony and painted doors and decorations overhead. Directly off the lobby was the small breakfast area, which needed a few more tables. The offerings had improved since my last visit to a Comfort Suites, and now included make-your-own waffles, fresh fruit, sausage patties, and eggs, plus small danish...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 27, 2010

Comfort Inn And Suites Amarillo
2300 Soncy Road
Amarillo, Texas 79121
806-457-9100

Canyon Reading

Grand Canyon National Park

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Attraction | "Canyon Readings: The First Expeditions"

Quote:
In 1869, the Colorado River was truly the stuff of legends: it originated at the junction of the Grand and Green Rivers in northern Utah, and shortly thereafter disappeared from the map, emerging in the Gulf of Mexico 1,500 miles away. Spaniards had gaped at its extent, US Naval vessels had sailed some few miles upstream from the Gulf; missionaries and explorers had (with difficulty) crossed it, and no one knew what challenges it held as it carved its way deeper into the west’s sandstone and granite. John Wesley Powell, a self-taught scientist from Illinois, conceived the idea of the first ‘scientific’ exploration of the river and its surrounding topography, and cobbled together a crew of nine in 1869...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 24, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park
P.o. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-7888

Grand Canyon National Park

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Attraction | "Canyon Readings: More Favorites"

Quote:
There's a lot of great reading about the Canyon, and as my obsession with it continues, I'm making my way through more and more of it. Here are a few more of my favorites:The Man Who Walked Through Time. I’d never heard of this book, or the author, Colin Fletcher, until I saw his obituary in the New York Times. He’s given much of the credit for starting the ‘backpacking craze’ in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, although there was so little lingo developed back then that he was often described as an 'inveterate' or ‘compulsive walker’. This 1968 book tells the story of his now 50-year-old hike along the Colorado and through the Grand Canyon. On a 1963 visit to the South Rim, he wa...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 4, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park
P.o. Box 129
Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023
(928) 638-7888