Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Grand Canyon

You'll spend a lot of time looking down but that's not all there is to do at the Grand Canyon.
There's more to do at the Grand Canyon than walking over to the rim, looking down and gasping at its enormity. You can fill two days easily with mule rides, tours, shopping and learning the legends and history of this truly grand site so plan to stay overnight at least.

Here's my guide. First where to stay.

You don't really need a car; shuttle buses circle the main points and tour buses take you to otherwise off-limits spots.

Handicap van service
Tip: You will do some walking and negotiate some stairs, though; how much and how strenuous depends on where you stay. There is, however, a handicap van service that picks up and drops off at hotels' front door. Where you stay makes a difference.

Where to stay

South Rim Village
This is the cluster of buildings most visitors see and are convenient to shopping in the excellent Hopi House and historic Vercamps,  Lookout and Kolb Studios. The mule barn and corral for rides into the canyon are here as is the Santa Fe Railroad Depot for the Grand Canyon Railway. 

Bright Angel Lodge
Bright Angel Lodge was the first, augmenting the tent camps of the early days, and it is where you go to make arrangements for mule rides and tours. As a result, it's quite busy.
Tip: Try to get one of the refurbished, historic cabins at the canyon rim for less walking and fewer stairs.

El Tovar

El Tovar is the most iconic, its food service is the best as are the views from its canyon-side porch. It's also the first to book up, 10-13 months in advance. However, you don't have to be a guest to dine there or enjoy a beverage or a rocking chair on its porches).
Anyone can snag a rocker on one of the porches.

Rooms are reasonable for their value and it probably is the only place where Sir Paul McCartney was told to stop playing the piano and making such a racket!

El Tovar lobby
Warning: There are no elevators (floors are 16 steps apart) so try to get a room on the first floor. Also, with the exception of the special handicap van, shuttle buses aren't allowed in the lodge's circular driveway which means you will have to walk downhill to catch one, up hill to return.

Tip: Trying to reserve rooms ahead of your visit can be frustrating but if you're willing to take a chance, go to the desk as soon as you arrive at the canyon. You might luck into a no-show's room and insiders tell us the odds are better than you think.

I stayed here at Maswik Lodge, as close to the rim as you could get but also farthest away from the Lodge.
Maswik Lodge is off-rim, a 5-minute downhill walk away which means you'll walk uphill on a path or via stairs to get to the rim. I didn't stay in the Lodge but in one of its two-story buildings that are scattered around stands of ponderosa pines. If you're driving there is convenient parking for these. If not, opt for the lodge or a room in a building close to it because shuttle buses come right up to the lodge.

Market Plaza Area
The Plaza, a mostly flat area, has all the comforts of suburbia - a post office, general store, lots of parking.

Yavapi Lodge is adjacent to the Plaza so if you are traveling with kids, this is your best bet. You can park next to your room - they're basic but run only about $112 - and you are away from the rim so there's  no worry about a youngster falling into the canyon. There's also a cafeteria, gift shop, deli and pizza place.

Note: Next post, what to do.


Ron said...

Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Grand Canyon in luxurious comfort I'm sure this was one of the BEST experience you will remember.....

October 31, 2011 at 1:06 PM
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March 28, 2013 at 4:59 AM

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