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Grand Canyon, AZ

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

For our first real vacation together outside of MA, we visited AZ. Part 3 of the trip centered on Grand Canyon National Park. For other segments of the trip click on the hyperlinks below.

3. Grand Canyon

It was only a 2+ hour drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon National Park but after hiking in the afternoon we didn't arrive at GCNP until early evening.

Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP), located in northwestern Arizona, is the 15th site in the United States to have been named a national park. The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Wonders of the World. An estimated 6 million people visit the GCNP each year, making it the second most popular national park following just behind the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Some fun facts about the Grand Canyon:

  • The Grand Canyon is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. The Grand Canyon is a mile deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles wide. While the park doesn’t include the entire canyon, it does measure in at a whopping 1,904 square miles in total. In comparison, Rhode Island is around 1,212 square miles.

  • Despite being the most famous, the Grand Canyon is not actually the world’s deepest canyon. Depending on how the depth of the gorge is measured, the Arizona landmark actually comes behind the Cotahuasi Canyon in Peru and the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal.

  • The Grand Canyon offers one of the most visible examples of a worldwide geological phenomenon known as the Great Unconformity, in which 250 million-year-old rock strata lie back-to-back with 1.2 billion-year-old rocks. What happened during the hundreds of millions of years between remains largely a mystery.

Day 1:

For today we decided to take our time and drive around the South Rim Desert View Road and stop at random vistas depending on the crowds. I wish I could identify where each picture was taken but I never recorded the information; so just appreciate the views like we did.

It took both of us some time before we felt comfortable standing/taking pictures at the rim. Notice Dave's buckled knees and my extra wide stance. We weren't quite comfortable yet.

Walking to the edge, the earth falls away into an expanse of peaks, plateaus, and gorges. The canyon is essentially an inverted, 6,000-foot, 277-mile-long mountain range.

At the bottom of the canyon lies the engine of this great geological world—the Colorado River, which carved these gorges over millions of years.

That evening we return to the South Rim to watch the sunset. Wonton's Throne and Vishnu Temple visible at sunset.

Day 2

Most of Day 2 was taken up by our hike of the Grand Canyon by the South Kaibab Trail. But after relaxing after the hike we began the drive to Lake Powell. however, first we would stay overnight for a well deserved break at Cliff Dwellers Lodge in Marble Canyon, AZ.

The drive from Grand Canyon Village to Marble Canyon was unremarkable until we approached the Vermillion Cliffs just as the sun was at the angle to light up the cliff face in a golden hue. FYI: None of these pictures have been 'touched-up'. These were actual lighting conditions as we were driving through the region

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument is marked only by a few signposts and no visitor facilities or tourist facilities.

Much of the area is an isolated plateau, flat and sandy, with just a few scattered ranches and occasional 12th century Anasazi remains

Most people zip on by this regions en route between Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, without stopping to enjoy and appreciate this beautiful spot.

Navajo Bridge is the name of each of a pair of steel spandrel arch bridges that cross the Colorado River in northern Arizona. Construction of the original Navajo Bridge began in 1927, and the bridge opened to traffic in 1929. The original bridge is 834 feet in length and with a maximum height of 467 feet from the canyon floor it is tied for 9th among the highest bridges in the US.

The Colorado River doesn't look quite so wild and untamed here.

We pulled up and quickly unpacked so we could grab dinner at the restaurant attached to the lodge. We also needed to leave quickly because it was probably a triple digit temperature inside the room. They don't turn on the AC when the room is empty. Dave was having serious doubts about this place. However, after dinner and a drink we returned to a very comfortable room. A quick shower and then we crashed after an incredibly demanding day.

Tonight I took this picture of the moon rising over the cliffs. I don't think I've ever taken a better moon pic.

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