When we left Kanab, we headed to Grand Canyon National Park by way of Page, Arizona. Originally, we had planned on doing Antelope Canyon, but as I said in a previous post we just found it too expensive for our family. (You can read more about it in our Kanab post). I was excited to do a little hike out to beautiful Horseshoe Canyon! Unfortunately, we just got too late of a start that day (Chris had some work phone calls to make, so we had to stay at the campground in Kanab). Something that we should note about Page, AZ (and Northern Arizona in general) is the lack of cell service and internet! Upon leaving Kanab, we lost internet and cell phone service completely. We did not get internet again until we reached our campground outside of the Grand Canyon and we didn’t get cell service again until we reached Nevada. This is important to know if you’re going to vacation in that area, and imperative to know if you think you’re trying to work remotely!
We got up early the following morning and drove the three hours to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, arriving at the gate around 10 am. We had the camper in tow, and we were informed at the gate that there were only certain pullouts and viewpoints that we could stop at with the camper. It didn’t disrupt our plans at all, but it is something that other campers might want to know for future reference. We stopped at the very first “view” of the Grand Canyon at Desert View. From the RV parking lot, it’s a short hike (.25 mile) to Desert View Point and the the watchtower. It was a little chilly, but the sun was out and there were plenty of people there already.
The Grand Canyon is awesome in the sense that in inspires awe. From every angle, it’s a new photograph. In fact, I’m not sure you can take a bad photograph of the Grand Canyon! It’s a mile deep, over 200 miles long and, at points, 18 miles wide! It’s enormous and a good reminder of how small we as humans really are. There are viewpoints where you have railings, but for the most part, you can walk right up to the edge and look a mile to the bottom. (As the parent of a rambunctious 4 year old who doesn’t have the best spatial awareness, the Grand Canyon was also heart attack inducing at times!)
We felt a lot safer from the Watchtower. The watchtower was designed in 1935 by Mary Colter. A historical replica of a Native American watchtower, she drew on elements from puebloan architecture in Hovenweep National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park(which we had visited a month prior). The intricate architecture and historic native american artwork inside of the tower were some of the highlights of the Desert View for me. The three story tower also gave us amazing views of the Grand Canyon from the safety of a building where we didn’t have to worry about our child stepping off of the side of a cliff! Calvin’s favorite part of the tower was the reflectoscopes in the Kiva Room. However, his favorite part of the massive Grand Canyon National Park was the tarantula that we saw on the ground at Desert View.
After our stop at Desert View, Chris requested that we go to our campground in Tusayan and attempt to get internet. As he hadn’t realized that we were going to be without internet or cell service the previous day, he didn’t warn his work that he would be out of touch. So, we checked in early at the Grand Canyon Camper Village in Tusayan so Chris could get some work in and I took Calvin to the National Geographic Visitor’s Center across the street.
The National Geographic Visitor’s Center is less of a visitor’s center and more of an IMAX movie theatre. However, the movie is incredibly informative as well as visually stunning (What we’ve all come to know and love from National Geographic!). It walked us through the history of the Canyon from the Anasazi who inhabited the Canyon 4,000 years ago to Major John Wesley Powell who rafted the unexplored Colorado River in 1869. Both Calvin and I got so much from the movie!
Upon returning to the camper, we attempted to retrieve Chris to watch sunset in the park. As we pulled through the park gate, our car began to make a god awful sound. We pulled off the side of the road to check under the hood. Nothing looked amiss, so we started again. More noise. The last thing we wanted was to get stuck inside Grand Canyon National Park with no cell service, and a broken down car. So, we made the unfortunate decision to miss sunset and headed back towards our campground. After some research on the internet, we diagnosed the sound as a problem with our IWE. But, not wanting to take any chances, we decided to find the closest Ford Dealership and take advantage of our warranty. This meant we missed sunrise in the park as well. I was disappointed, but later that night we had an experience at the campground that made up for it.
Chris was sitting outside the camper, enjoying the colors of sunset, when he looked up and saw 2 elk walking around the campground. He popped his head inside the camper and summoned me. I had read about the possibility of seeking elk at this campground, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. They hung around the campground for hours, just relaxing and feasting on grass. It was the perfect end to a day that could have ended in disappointment.