I drove up to to Grand Canyon National Park on Memorial Day thinking, “This is going to be crazy, it’s a holiday weekend and I’m going to one of the most visited sites in the world.”
And then, as I came out of Flagstaff and onto the main route to the canyon, I was the only one on the road. For an hour and a half I barely saw another sign of life. Methinks this is the best type of driving. Mountains and forests and open fields and not a soul to interrupt wherever my mind wants to wander. A few pics of the drive to the canyon:
Entering the park from the south, the main road takes you to an enormous visitor center (busier x1000 than my drive to the park). This alone took me a half hour to get through, from reading signs to filling up water bottles. There are also a few thirsty visitors to work your way around:
I initially walked the Rim Trail, adjacent to the visitor’s center. My spidey senses tell me that this is 90% of people’s first view of the canyon, as it was mine. Here, you walk along a flat, paved trail that traces the edge of the canyon for some time.
Next, I drove the lone road out to the Desert View Watchtower at the park’s east entrance, a 70-foot structure built in 1932 to resemble the watchtowers of the Ancient Pueblo People. Inside, the tower boasts murals everywhere. A gift shop makes up the ground floor. God knows I hate when they ruin an attraction with a gift shop at every turn (I’m talking to you, SeaWorld San Diego). But I did appreciate the murals.
Another attraction along the route were the Tusayun Ruins, an 800 year old site where Pueblo Indians lived for about 20 years. The short, self-guided path around the ruins is accompanied by a museum that shares tidbits of life about the tribes that lived in this area. Cool.
My final stop before exiting the park was the Grandview Trail, a pathway into the canyon less maintained than other trails. I was drawn to this. The park itself is so touristy that you desperately want to grasp at anything semi-wild you find along the way.
End result of my day: a bunch of canyon pictures that all look more or less alike. Learn more about Grand Canyon National Park here.