|The Colorado River winds its way through the Grand Canyon|
First, though, you need to look into and at the canyon. Geologists can take hours explaining how it occurred, park rangers do it in less time, but the most succinct version is my favorite: "The land came up, the river went down and the walls fell in."
And boy, what a sight they created. You can go from the East to the West rims by way of the South rim in the National Park Service's free, hop on, hop off shuttle buses. Your time will be well spent taking the shuttles around and hopping off at each overlook because each one gives you a different perspective on the canyon.
Tip for those who go on a sunrise or sunset tour: 95 percent of amateur photographers aim for that rising or setting ball of fire and wind up with blown out backgrounds. Far better are photographs taken shooting away from the sun. You'll not only see the effects of that orb's action, the canyon will be captured at its most dramatic.
Here are my recommendations for what to see and do.
It's everyone's first stop because there's more here.
1. Stroll through El Tovar's lobby. Buy a beverage at the bar, take it out on a porch, grab a rocking chair and watch the panoply of spectacular landscape and a world's worth of people.
|Geological fireplace designed by Mary Colter in the History Room.|
|View from a Lookout Studio,"patio".|
3. Lookout Studio is another Mary Colter gem with multi-level patios from which you can look for riders and hikers along Bright Angel Trail or try to spot condors riding thermals overhead. On the way you'll pass the Buckey O'Neil cabin, longest-standing structure at the canyon built by a stalwart character if ever there was one.
|Ranger program in Kolb Studio.|
4. Kolb Studio, multi-storied home of multi-talented brothers Ellsworth and Emery who became famous for their photographs and explorations of the canyon and the Colorado River.
|Fans of Southwest Native American skills will love Hopi House.|
|Mules await their passengers.|
|Colter fireplace at Hermits Rest.|
|The Watchtower at Desert View.|
|Spiral staircase and Pueblan symbols enliven the inside of the tower.|
Warning: The 85 steps are narrow and difficult. I made it up to the second level - 21 steps - and called it quits.
|Levita and Elan were visiting from Taipei, Taiwan.|
|Excavation began at the Tusayan ruins in 1930.|
|Desert View Drive is full of wonderful overlooks.|
5. Grand Canyon Visitor Center is a ho-hum after you've seen the canyon. There is a good film but other than a pick-up point for all three shuttle bus routes and lots of parking, that's about all. Again, you're here so go ahead and stop if you have time.
|Cute but its teeth are sharp.|