Sunrise at Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

I may be one of the luckiest persons on earth.

Last year in the summer of 2016, I was in Nice during the Bastille Attack.  This year, I was in Las Vegas during the Route 91 Festival Shooting.  Both times, I/we almost decided to have dinner or participate in night activities near both of these shocking events.  And both times, my fatigue decided to not pursue such activities.  Laziness does help you sometimes.  By the way, my heart goes out to all those affected.

That said, I was attending a wedding in Vegas but not on the strip, but on Henderson at a beautiful location.  The day after the Route 91 Festival Shooting, I did end up having to go to the Strip, specifically Flamingo Hotel, because that was where I rented my car to go to Grand Canyon (and for the next few days in Los Angeles).  While ubering to Flamingo, I managed to get a glimpse of the Mandalay Bay… not the two windows that were both exposed, but definitely seeing the cops barricading the whole area around it.

I am also one of the luckiest persons on earth because I get to witness the magnificence of breathtaking Grand Canyon.  During my uber ride, my amazing driver did tell me that pictures cannot define Grand Canyon, and I simply cannot agree more.  Grand Canyon is quite astonishing, and its massive size and grandness just isn’t something that can be captured even by the most professional Leica camera.

By the way, while driving there, you will notice that the elevation is 7,000 feet, so you may experience more difficulty breathing up there.  The temperatures also fluctuates a lot… during the early mornings / late nights it was 36 degrees Fahrenheit in early October (about 2 degrees Celsius), and then when the sun rises up it suddenly becomes hot enough that you want to wear only t-shirts and shorts.  The price for just going to see Grand Canyon is USD 30 for adults, but if you want to see other national parks you’d probably have to pay more.

Grand Canyon

 

Accommodation (website)

I stayed at the Yavapai Lodge, which was extremely close to the Grand Canyon South Rim.  That said, you would still need a car though or some sort of transportation to get around, see below.

There are two lodge areas… one is the East side, and one is the West side.  The East side, the one I stayed at, is more expensive because they have air con.  You won’t need air con during the autumn/winter times just because it’s cold enough already.  But when I went to book it, it was the only room available.

Also I booked so that breakfast buffet was included, which included sausages, bacon, eggs, eggs with cheese, pancakes, fruits.

Now technically, I could even imagine that you can skip accommodation altogether, and sleep in the car.  But of course, that means you cannot shower.  Or, if you’re there only for 3-5 hours, you might want to just come really early in the morning, arrive at 9am / 10am, and have lunch, spend a couple more hours, then leave.  But of course, you can imagine how exhausting that would be.

Yavapai LodgeRight outside the Yavapai Lodge

Grand CanyonThe purple pink sky during nightfall

Yavapai LodgeLobby / gift shop to the left

Yavapai LodgeOnly one restaurant for dining for dinner and breakfast and lunch.  They also have a Tavern as well.  You queue up for a machine, where you can then select from a variety of food items and beverages.

Yavapai LodgeThat night I was focused on being healthy, but they also had BBQ ribs, chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese, and anything American.

Yavapai LodgeAs you can see, you can fill your water bottle.  In fact, Grand Canyon and the Yavapai County are so concerned about environment, that you cannot purchase water bottles there, so be sure to bring a water bottle before you arrive.  They also have a 5 minute shower challenge in each room where they have installed an hour glass that you can time yourself for 5 minutes.  I’m a big believer in sustainable environmental practices, and here they continue to emphasize on the three R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle.  They also ask you to conserve energy and water, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by biking or walking, and don’t leave trash everywhere.

Yavapai LodgeAt the gift shop

Yavapai LodgeThe room… pretty standard

Yavapai Lodge

Yavapai LodgeBathtub, but it’s also a shower

Yavapai LodgeA map of the lodges and the Yavapai village, all walkable distance

 

Transportation

Driving from the Strip, it took me about 4 hours to get to Grand Canyon.  The next day, I drove from Grand Canyon to Los Angeles… that was my second longest drive ever.  That took 8 hours!

Willow BeachWhile driving from Las Vegas.  This is nearby Willow Beach.

Hoover DamWhile driving from Las Vegas, you get to witness the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam LodgeHad a quick stop at Hoover Dam Lodge to use the bathroom.

Hoover Dam LodgeRefrigerator magnets

Grand Canyon

Depending on your preference, there are several ways to see Grand Canyon.  You can be like me and rent a car and spend a night there.  Some might rent RVs and go camping.  Some might join tour operators and go on their buses, although that means you cannot control your schedule.

When you get to Grand Canyon, you can walk around the rim trail, drive around Grand Canyon, or you can even take shuttle buses that have different routes that have different stops.

Grand CanyonBus Routes

By the way, if you plan to drive, don’t drive too fast.  Two times I almost ran over a squirrel because they love to cross the road just when a car is coming, so be careful.

 

Grand Canyon

There are photos, there are postcards, and everyone keeps describing vividly how amazing this place is.

Yet, it is incomparable to seeing it in person.

I was driving into there while the sun was setting.  By the time I checked in and settled in my Yavapai Lodge, the sun had already set, the night was dark, and the stars were shimmering.  You won’t be able to see Grand Canyon at night, but you can do some star gazing.

Borrowing from a pamphlet of Grand Canyon, this landscape is “one of Earth’s most powerful, inspiring landscapes – overwhelms our senses.  Its story tells of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color, and dazzling erosional forms.”

Indeed, here is some information on how Grand Canyon has become the landscape it is today, and the communities of life and the people of the canyon.

Grand CanyonFirst of all, the map of Grand Canyon south rim.  I don’t think this is to scale… Desert View is farther than Hermits Rest, but on this map it looks the same distance away from Yavapai Lodge.

Grand CanyonAbout how it’s formed and who’s affected by it

Grand Canyon

McKee AmphitheaterThe Mckee Amphitheater

Rim TrailYou can walk along the rim trail but it will probably take you a whole day

Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonThis is the Desert View Watchtower, opens at 8am.  I was there by 6:30am.  It took me about 30 minutes to drive from my lodge.

Grand CanyonForced myself to wake up at 5:30am to see the sunrise, and I was on a tight schedule anyway.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonI think from this photo you can feel the vastness of this landscape, but this is honestly just a glimpse of how it felt like when being there

Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonWhen I first came to Desert View Watchtower, my god, this was chilling to the max.  The South Rim does open year round, so I cannot imagine coming here during winter times.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

If you’re into nature and landscapes, then Grand Canyon is a must go.  Probably one of my favorite ‘naturey’ places I’ve seen of all time.  I have heard that during the summer, it does get pretty hot, so I suggest you to come around the same time I went, which was Autumn/Fall.

There were a couple of stops I made.  I caught the sunrise at Desert View.  Returning to my lodge, I stopped by Navajo Point (I think) and Grandview Point.  Then I also went to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum.  Took a nap, headed over to the Yavapai Lodge and ate breakfast, then started walking over to the Rim Trail opposite of Parking Lot A.

My favorite viewing point remains Desert View.  Really happy that the hotel receptionist was able to advise me to go there, otherwise I may not have made the trip.

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