the wandering chick
...The Grand Canyon
the South Rim
Having never seen the Grand Canyon before, I wasn't sure even how to approach its vastness. Where do I go first? What should I not miss? HOW do I even start?
So I went to a local tourist office to get GC101 and walked out with a solid agenda.
The canyon runs, pretty much, east and west, which means you can stand on the south
side (the South Rim) and view it looking north; or you can stand on the North Rim and view it looking south. And there are the East and West Rims.
The North Rim is 1000+ feet higher in elevation, so it is closed from November until Spring. The South Rim, however, is open year round, along with all the lodges, souvenir shops
and most campgrounds.
The canyon can be viewed from the South Rim by walking, driving or taking the park's free shuttle. The South Rim is some 34 miles long, from Hermits Rest to
The park shuttle, an easy color-coded system that allows you to get on and off at your own pace, covers most of that route, not going to the
eastern-most end of the park. Also, some parts of the route can be done ONLY by shuttle, as they are closed to the general public.
My agenda had me doing all three. I used the shuttle to explore the western and eastern sections. I used my one full day to walk the center part, about 2.5 miles. At a leisurely
pace, stopping at each of the overlooks, taking lots of pictures, hitting the lodges and shops, it took five hours. I found a secluded spot overlooking the canyon where I stopped and ate
a lunch that I had carried with me. The walk was actually the best part of the trip, in my opinion.
On my last day, I left the park via the east end and saw the
section that was a little more remote but equally breath-taking. You see more of the Colorado River at the east end of the park than you do anywhere else along the South Rim.
What I didn't do, but it's certainly an option for those not afraid of heights, is walk down into the canyon. From there, there's no doubt, you get an entirely different perspective.
There are an endless number of activities and tours in the park: hiking into the canyon, river-rafting, the well-known mule rides, helicopter and train tours and ranger- guided activities on all aspects of the canyon. Each offers a totally different perspective and appreciation of the canyon.
The pictures below are identified by the outlook or point along the rim from which they were taken. Enjoy.
Above: Taken from Pima Point
Below: Taken from Mather Point
Those who can't do take pictures of those who can. Taken at Moran Point.
Above: from Mather Point
Below: From Maricopar Point
Above: From Pima Point
Left: Hopi Point at sunset
Below: From Powell Point
This shot was taken at the Trailview Overlook, so named because you can see a good portion of the Bright Angel trail that leads down into the canyon. The Bright Angel trail is one of the more popular paths and is one used by the donkeys to carry tourists into the canyon.
All along the South Rim are opportunities to view the canyon. In some spots, there are overlooks or points that are fenced to allow sightseers to safely walk out on a ledge, such as Mather Point, above.
In other spots, such as in the picture to the right, the only barrier is your common sense. This was a nicely secluded spot several yards off of the South Rim Trail, so I picked it to stop and eat lunch.
Below: This squirrel was having his own lunch - on another ledge, one a little more risky.
These Big Horn Sheep were found strolling through the park, ever cautious of the curious people around them.
This is Plateau Point. It is part of a hiking and pack trail that starts at the Bright Angel Trailhead and continues on to the Colorado River. Plateau Point is approximately half way to the river, some 12 miles from the start of the Bright Angel Trailhead. Another view of it can be seen in the bottom right corner of the picture to the right.
This is O'Neill Butte, named after a young man nicknamed Bucky O'Neill who saw economic potential in the canyon in the late 1800s. He was instrumental in getting train transportation and better access to the canyon.
He became one of President Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War and was killed in battle at the age of 38. He is bured in Arlington National Cemetery.
Today a train, eventually bought by the Santa Fe Railroad, runs daily from Williams to the South Rim.
This is a hiking trail named the South Kaibab Trail. It was completed in 1928 as a means to provide better access inside the canyon. It can be accessed from Yaki Point, near the east end of the South Rim. It's a very strenuous 6.5-mile hike.
The only cat I saw at the Grand Canyon was this sign, posted on the Desert View Road at the east end of the park.
The Colorado River snakes through the canyon one mile below. From the South Rim, best glimpses of the river are at the east end of the rim, along Desert View Drive at the Lipan and Navajo Points and at Desert View Point.
The Desert View Watchtower is located on the east end of the South Rim at the Desert View Point. It was designed in 1930 by Mary Colter simply as a rest area and souvenir shop and was made to look authentic, but has no deep Native
You can view the canyon from the top level of the tower, but only through windows. It offers an impressive and expansive view of not only the canyon, but the surrounding desert as well.
The coolest part of the tower is the interior. The tower rises four levels, and each level has an opened-circle ceiling, allowing you to see the highest-most ceiling from each level. On the ceiling and walls are copies of prehistoric pictographs and petroglyphs. The result of the design is a cave-like interior, mystical almost, due to limited light from the small windows on the mid-levels.
Aaaaahhh...an abundance of firewood. A camper's fondest dream.
A view of the canyon from inside the Watchtower.
Taken from Grandview Point on Desert View Drive.
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Pictures from a second trip to the South Rim can be viewed here
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