Day Two of our spontaneous Arizona adventure starts off as early as Day One, it is still pitch black.
This time however, an incredibly vast starry sky above. The air crisp, almost frosty. Leaving Utah we drive South. The sun starts rising in the East, slowly lighting up the seemingly endless landscape and then turning it golden. Another gorgeous day awaits.
We pass The Gap and in Cameron turn right, onto State Route 64, the road leading us straight to the Grand Canyon’s East Entrance. Along the way, we see a group of Navajo Indians selling crafts and jewelry. I would encourage anyone to find native people selling their own goods versus buying something at one of the souvenir stores. Not only is it going to cost you less but far more importantly, you get the opportunity to talk to the people that have been living on these lands for 100s of years, are fighting to preserve their culture, and most likely are wiser than many of us.
As we enter the Grand Canyon’s East Entrance it is still very early and none of the big tourist buses have yet arrived. Our first stop, the Desert View Watchtower. Built in 1932 it was designed by Mary Colter, one of the very first female architects. The Watchtower was meant to mimic an Anasazi Indian Watchtower. It is a very interesting structure to explore and the views you get from the tower and its surroundings are breathtaking.
Insiders know that for an uncrowded visit to the Grand Canyon, one should visit the North Rim, as it only receives about 10% of the yearly visitors. However, if the South Rim is easier accessible, as it was in our case, entering the East Entrance is a great way to avoid the crowds. Most of the Grand Canyon’s visitors never make it past Grand Canyon Village which is home to many hotels and accessed via the South Entrance. As for the tours that actually travel along the rim, you will be long gone before they make it to the East Entrance.
As we travel West along the South Rim, we stop a couple of times along the way. Most of the time we are alone. It is an incredibly powerful feeling, to experience the immensity of the canyon by yourself. Standing or sitting at the edge, overlooking the ancient rock formations dropping down into the large abyss, sometimes catching a glimpse of the Colorado river winding its way at the bottom of the canyon. Many different shapes and colors. The screeching of a crow, a lizard basking in the sun, and the smell of fresh pine trees in the air. This is the way the Grand Canyon should be experienced.
Eventually we make it to the Grand Canyon Village and after exploring some of the hotels, walking along the rim, glancing into a few shops, we end up getting a scoop of ice cream to enjoy overlooking the canyon. As we sit there, our feet dangling over the edge, a steady flow of people walking by behind us, we see something moving below. A young bobcat chasing a bird which eventually seeks refuge in one of the crevices. What a great way to end our time at the Grand Canyon!
Despite the half day only visit, we felt we got to experience an incredible time at the Grand Canyon. If you visit, try to leave the beaten path behind and find your spot. It is powerful!
For us it was time to head on to our last stop, Sedona, but more about that in Day Three of this series.
Written by AAV Travel’s Owner
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Having personally traveled to many destinations worldwide, she can help you create a wonderful vacation experience. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org