The Grand Canyon makes you feel so small in the world, but looking up at the Milky Way from your campsite makes you feel insignificant… we loved it here!
We arrived at the campground just as the sun was setting (we had spent several frustrating hours in Walmart buying our camping gear). We quickly threw up the tent and went to blow up the air mattress only to discover we needed electricity! A moment of panic set as we imagined the night ahead on the hard ground but we found some generous RV owners who let us use their electricity, phew! It was extremely cold (down to -3’C) so we slept with all our clothes on.
Day 1: Along the canyon rim
Kellie hadn’t seen the canyon before and was absolutely blown away by the scale of it. Even though you’ve seen pictures of it before, nothing will actually prepare you for the sheer enormity of the place.
That first day we walked from Yavapi Point west along the rim (not too close to the edge!) to Hopi Point taking in the different vistas along the way. The view changes subtly as you walk, but it never, ever gets boring!
The lushness of Indian Gardens in the left picture
We watched the sunset at Yavapi point which was amazing, having said that I don’t think there is a bad place from which to view sunset as the whole canyon glows with colour.
Day 2: Down into the canyon
Day two we set off on a hike down the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon and out to Plateau Point. The path wound down the near vertical cliff face via a series of switchbacks, but amazingly there were no scary sections. It took us 3hrs to make the 933m descent to Plateau Point through Indian Gardens (a lush oasis with a campsite formed along the tectonic plate fault line) and we were rewarded with a great view of the Colorado river.
It was amazing to be down in the canyon as it gave you a totally different perspective and appreciation of the canyon.
The path, where we hiked to and where we hiked from
Additionally, it was surprisingly green and cacti were threatening to burst into bright fuchsia flower following an extremely wet winter. We found out that it had snowed three inches only five days earlier, but there were no signs of it left.
Day 3: Helicopter over the canyon
If you have the money this is a must do!! If you don’t have the money, start saving now! We done the 45 mins flight, which we highly recommend as the time flies! (Excuse the pun!) It was such an incredible experience and brings home how vast the canyon is. You can see the tributary canyons, which just run as far as you can see.
The moment when you fly over the rim edge and the ground drops away is exhilarating and left Kellie gasping for breathe. A picture tells a thousand words, so we’ll leave it to the photos and this video we made (check it out!!) to explain.
The Empire State Building isn’t even a third as tall as these cliffs!
Our Grand Canyon travel tips
- Book 6-12 months in advance to get the lodge accommodation, as we only booked just over 1 month we could only get a tent site or a nearby motel for $450 per night!
- Wifi is poor
- If you’re camping definitely buy a $10 120W inverter (for the car) from Walmart to pump up your airbed, charge your phone, laptop etc.
- There are so many people doing silly things! Stay well away from the cliff and behind the fences, they’re there for a reason! We witnessed a big rockfall from the rim
- We were very glad not to have small children with us. We could see the level of stress the parents were experiencing!
- Best breakfast burrito is from the General Store, the ones from the lodges just aren’t as good 🙂
- Unfortunately Maswik Pizza and Beer lounge isn’t as good as the locals say
- Bright Angel Lodge is a restaurant rather than a canteen so if you want a quick breakfast before setting off best to eat at Maswik or Yavapi lodges
- Hire walking sticks for $6 or buy old ones for $10 from the General Store at Market Plaza
- If you want to camp down in the canyon you need to book well ahead. We would have liked to have done this…
- Phantom Ranch (at the bottom of the canyon). Hike down in one day and stay for two nights so that you could hike along the Colorado
- Indian Gardens (halfway back up) for one night to break up the 1300m ascent and walk out to Plateau Point
- Try and get a booking at the Havasupai campground west of the canyon so that you can go to the falls there. The numbers are very limited and you have to book WAY in advance, but this is something we wished we’d done
- Another thing we’d like to do in future is raft down the Colorado River. It’s expensive and takes about 7-10 days, but would be the experience of a lifetime. Again you need to book well in advance.
- Don’t take the helicopter from Las Vegas only the Grand Canyon Airport otherwise you only get to see the lesser west canyon, not the same thing!