May 5-8, 2016
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon after driving up from Williams. The drive was easy (we did not take 89A) and pretty. We had found a camping spot on Campendium on FR-688, and knew others that had stayed there and liked it. The spaces offer plenty of privacy, and there was a spot that we liked immediately. It is set back from the road, and only 10 miles south of the entrance to the Grand Canyon.
This spot is amazing. It’s beautiful, the smell of the fresh air with pine trees is refreshing and the space is great. We let the dogs run around with no problems.
Since the weather was nice we decided to go to the Visitor’s Center and see the Grand Canyon. The entrance fee is $30 per vehicle which is good for 7 days, unless you have one of the many annual passes like America the Beautiful. I have never been and so I was very eager to see it. Of course, I have seen tons of pictures and when it’s been in movies, but people kept saying that there is no way to actual capture how amazing it really is. When we finally got there I stood there in awe for a minute, until the sounds of all the tourists snapped me out of it. It was pretty busy for a Thursday afternoon:
There were squirrels begging for food along the path. DO NOT FEED THEM! That is not zoomed in either. They get really close.
We went to the Visitor’s Center to check out all the trails that were available to us. We were hoping that the weather forecast was somehow wrong, it was scheduled to thunderstorm every day.
Even though it is one of the most visited parks in the United States, I was still impressed with how much great information is readily available. They have four free shuttles. The red, blue, orange and purple route. Some of the shuttle drivers are full of information and others sit there quietly. Before you get into the visitor’s center there are large posters of all the trails. They had them listed by difficulty. After reviewing we decided on the South Kaibab Trailhead to Skeleton Point for the next morning.
We headed back to our coach and ended up meeting a couple that was full time rving as well in an Airstream with their dog Redd. They were great and we ended up hanging out with them for almost all evening.
It was raining when we woke up, and the forecast said thunderstorms throughout the whole day. This in mind, we decided against hiking down into the canyon that morning. My fear of heights made me think that I wouldn’t be too confident on the trail, especially if it was raining. We looked at the shuttle routes and decided to go to popular Hermit’s Rest. You can drive out there but the shuttle gave us an opportunity to see the park, without the fear of driving off the edge. We were both able to see the views and listen to the driver’s stories and information. The sun started coming out so we decided to get out at Monument Creek Vista to make the 2.8 mile hike to Hermit’s Rest. We took the Rim Trail which was paved and well marked. There were benches and vista points along the way to take pictures from.
Hermit’s Rest is also a trailhead to get into the canyon. There are restrooms, gift shop, a deli and numerous picnic benches. Since the sun was out we took some time to have lunch.
On our way home we drove by some elk!
More rain this morning. We slept in and then invited the neighbors over for an afternoon bonfire.
We met up with Robin and Jeremy and Chelsey and Kyle. All full time rvers. Summit found a new friend:
The sun stayed out the entire afternoon and then all of a sudden it started hailing on us!
One of our new friends, who will remain nameless, made a dedicated beer run!
Kaiser continued to do what cats do:
We woke up determined to do a hike. We took the shuttle to Kaibab South Trail. It wasn’t raining yet, but the clouds were heavy and dark. They still use mules here to pack things in and out. We saw some pictures of people who were able to see them and so we were hoping to see and we were lucky enough! Although it did make the only bad thing about the trail. You have to navigate all the mule droppings!
We made it to the first view point which was one mile down. Ooh Aah Point. The rain came when we arrived but we managed to get one picture in.
We heard the shuttle driver mention that this was the least steep of the trails into the canyon. Even though we only went 1 mile down, the up felt more like 3 at 7,000 ft and all the switchbacks.
As we headed up the sun came out again.
Instead of going back to the coach we checked out the Tusayan Ruins (an 800 year old Pueblo Indian site), which was a 22 mile drive along Desert View Drive. No shuttles go out here. This stop was very short. There were restrooms, a very small museum and a couple ruins.
This is the remains of living quarters.
Since we were only there for about 30 minutes, we ventured to Desert View where the watchtower is. It was another 3 miles down the road and had ample parking, RV park, General Store, Deli, gift store, restrooms, picnic area and information kiosks. The main attraction is the watchtower. It was built in 1932 and is four stories. Now getting through the areas in this tower with all the tourists was not fun, but we managed to do it.
The views of the river were great!
This site also has a memorial honoring those who perished in the 1956 airplane collision.
You can read more about that here: 1956 Airplane Collision
I would recommend coming out here if you have the time and there are at least a dozen vista points along the way to stop at.
That ended our time at the Grand Canyon. It was still awesome even with the rain. Meeting new people, seeing new things and hitting something that was on my bucket list made the rain seem not so bad.