Back for More Arizona - Winter 2014 travel blog

Colorado River glimpse

zig zag trail











So many people flock to the Grand Canyon, crowd management could be a real challenge. But the canyon is huge and people are spread out enjoying all the views. A rim trail borders the canyon for much of the park. The central part near the visitor center is paved so even people in wheel chairs can enjoy the canyon. I like to hike, but tend to over jet, forgetting that whatever distance I have gone has to be repeated to get back. Shuttle buses run along the entire canyon so you can hike until you drop and jump on a shuttle to go back to the parking lot or to our campground.

Sometimes hiking can be boring - tree after tree after tree. But here every few minutes a fabulous new vista appeared before us. As the sun moved across the sky and the clouds covered and uncovered the sunshine, the views were every changing. Every so often we got glimpses of the Colorado River, which has carved the canyon over the millennia. We also saw the Bright Angel Trail where we once rode mules to the bottom and stayed at Phantom Ranch. Once you get down into the canyon it looks like a totally different place.

We ended the day with a lay-di-dah foodie dinner at the El Tovar Hotel, built here in 1905 to house the first train passengers who rode here in comfort from the east. The Tovar is built in classic early national park style with huge exposed timbers; its architects borrowed from Swiss chalets and Norwegian villas. It cost $250,000 to build and featured steam heat, hot and cold running water, and a fire suppression system. The hotel even had a dairy herd to provide fresh milk and a greenhouse for fresh fruits and vegetable. The El Tovar was considered the most luxurious hotel west of the Mississippi. At that time Fred Harvey was a major presence here and we saw exhibits highlighting the Harvey Girls who served the passengers and made them feel in the lap of luxury as they enjoyed the same views we are enjoying today. The waiters at the Tovar were well trained and elegantly attired; it felt like a cruise dining experience. The Grand Canyon is about fifty miles from the nearest town and we've been thinking about where all the hotel/restaurant/ranger staff live around here. Half of our campground is open to campers, so some of those waiters could be camped just across the road.

The drive back to the campground was one of the darkest experiences we've ever had. Many of the roads are one way so we had to go west quite a while before we could go east and we were glad that we had driven the route during the day. Light pollution is not a problem here.

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