Our first view of the Grand Canyon was from the South Rim near the El Tovar hotel. I had the immediate and strange sensation that it wasn’t real, simply a very convincing three dimensional image. It’s something everyone should see for themselves. Words cannot describe the vastness, the colors, the light.
Driving east along the South Rim, there are numerous overlooks to stop and gawk at. At the far eastern end is the Desert View Watchtower, which looks old but isn’t — well, at least not old in relative terms. It was completed in 1932 and designed by Mary Colter, who based its design on Ancient Pueblo Peoples watchtowers and drew inspiration from various elements found at Southwestern historical sites, including Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
The park was fairly crowded, although not as crowded as it is in the summer months. Spring weather is great during the day but nights get cold. A visit to the North Rim would equal fewer people and services, which is more our vibe, but the area remains closed until May, depending upon weather conditions. A future trip (sans doggie) will include a hike to the bottom or a float down the Colorado.
Dogs are not allowed on the buses or below the rim, but are welcome on the other park trails and in the campground. We watched the sunset one evening from the canyon rim near the Yavapai Geology Museum, just off the trail. Missy the dog sat patiently in my lap for quite some time while Wayne found just the right camera angle. Her lap-sitting abilities garnered her some attention from others with cameras. Let’s just say she’s in quite a few strangers’ vacation photos. #supermodel
Grand Canyon Village has tons of restaurants and stores and even bicycle rental. It’s truly like its own little city, complete with a post office. And a bonus: grazing elk.
We stayed at Mather Campground, one of two campgrounds in the Village. There is a camper services building with $2 showers (so worth it) and a huge laundromat, both of which we took advantage of immediately upon arrival. Ravens were everywhere in the campground and very interested in any food, so all food had to be secured in a vehicle or a hard sided container. They’re bigger than you’d expect, especially when they are swooping down at you and your coffee creamer. The campground has separate trash and recycling dumpsters, the first I’ve noticed in a national park.
My sister and nephew were returning to Louisiana by car from a trip to Nevada and stopped to meet us. We had a lovely dinner at the El Tovar dining room, which is the finest dining establishment in the park. The historic canyon-side El Tovar hotel opened in 1905 and is built of local limestone and Oregon pine. There was a plaque describing it as a chalet/Norweigan style building, but I like to refer to this style as Early National Park Rustic-Fancy. At roughly 90 percent more per night than a site at Mather Campground, the price is definitely fancy, too!