Southwest – Day 11

Southwest USA

Retirement Trip

September 2019

29 Days – 6,500 Miles – 19 States

7 National Parks

Several State Parks – 6,000+ Photos

1 Trillion Insects Squished by Car Windshield

 From 108 Degrees to Snow

From 282 Feet Below Sea Level to 12,000+ Feet

Bison, Elk, Prairie Dogs, Lizards, Wild Horses

Elvis, Aliens, John Wayne Westerns

Walking In The Footsteps of Forrest Gump

And More! 

Grand Canyon – South Rim

Rather than taking the train from Williams to the Grand Canyon, which would have limited our visit to just over 3 hours,
we drove to Tusayan (just outside the park) and took one of the free park shuttles. 

This allowed us to get to the park much earlier (beating the crowds), park free, skip the lines at the gate, and go directly to the park Visitor Center. 
With buses running every 15-20 minutes, it also allowed us to relax and see as much of the park we wanted without a strict deadline. 
Very nice!
We parked in Tusayan (just outside the park) and rode the free park shuttle to the Visitor Center.
From there, we rode the free park shuttles (Blue line and Red Line) to the left/west end of this map at Hermit’s Rest.
We stopped at almost every bus stop since the next bus would be along in about 10-15 minutes. 
So much easier than driving into the park and trying to find a parking spot.
We were on the first bus into the park at 8:00am.  (The train doesn’t arrive from Williams until 10:30)
We immediately caught the first Blue Line bus over to the Red Line to explore the canyon rim
You can follow the Red Line stops on the far left side of the park map above.

Trailview Overlook

Our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon was walking down to the viewing
area at Trailview Overlook. Like many of the viewing areas,
there were quite a few steps involved. 
Even before we got to the viewing area, we were amazed at the size of the canyon.  
Photos cannot convey the distances.
This sign tells about Bright Angel geological fault running across the canyon floor.
Also visible on this sign (to the right) is the Bright Angel Trail, a very strenuous and steep hike for the hardy. (More on that later)
The Bright Angel Fault discussed in the previous photo is visible 4,500 feet below on the canyon floor. You could stack 3 Empire State Buildings atop each other and they would still not reach as high as the viewing area. 

Bright Angel Trail is also visible to the right.
Another view farther to the right with the Bright Angel Trail more visible. Not for the faint of heart or the acrophobic.
Also visible in the distance up above is the Visitor Center area.

More on the Bright Angel Trail.
The view from Trailview Overlook was incredible! 
Another view from the walkway.  Our next stop is on the rocks to the left.
Even though we are at 7,000-feet elevation, it is still very desert-like.  
It was only 80 degrees now, but high 90s later.


Our next stop is Maricopa Point.  After waiting just a few minutes, the next shuttle bus appeared to take us there — a 2 minute ride.

Just a short walk from the bus stop.  The air is thin at 7,000 feet, so we took our time and read the plaques along the way.
No steps on this stop.  Just walking out, we knew it would be good.
View from Maricopa Point.
As we left Maricopa Point, we noticed the next stop (Powell Point) is only 0.3 miles and there is a nice paved trail there.
After sitting in the car as much as we have the past week, it felt good to walk.
Rim Trail from Maricopa Point to Powell Point.
Lots of wildlife along the trail. 
We enjoyed the variety of plant life, too. 
The trail continues.  We’re almost to Powell Point.
Just before Powell Point, there was a break in the trees and we could look back to see where we were just a few minutes ago at Maricopa Point.  You can see here why they put railings up at the viewing areas.  Quite a drop! 


Named for John Wesley Powell,

one of the first explorers of the Grand Canyon.

Walking out to the viewing area. 
This is a memorial to John Wesley Powell (1834-1902).  He was a soldier, geologist, explorer of the American West, professor at Illinois Wesleyan University, and director of major scientific and cultural institutions.  He is famous for the 1869 Powell Geographic Expedition, a three-month river trip down the Green and Colorado Rivers, including the first official US Government-sponsored passage through the Grand Canyon.
The 1869 Geographic Expedition began with 10 men and 4 boats.  Shortly after the start of the expedition, one boat was lost at a rapids they named Disaster Falls.  Many crucial supplies were lost, including barometers – important since they are used to calculate elevation, and therefore help the team know how far they were away from the endpoint, which had a known elevation.  They did manage to recover enough of the equipment to continue.
However, the river was rough.  Now, there are dams in place to equalize the flow. Back then, there were areas of extremely rough rapids.  At one point, 2 of the men had enough and did not want to risk the dangerous rapids any longer.  They were last seen walking back along the river route they had come from.  They were never seen again.  Two days later, the team reached their destination. 

Read more about this interesting explorer:  

Read more about the 1869 Expedition: 

Another fabulous view.  BTW – We will be visiting the North Rim (visible to the right and 20 miles in the distance) next week.  
View from Powell Point looking down more toward the canyon floor.

As we made our way to the next overlook (Hopi Point) we could look back and see Powell Point .

Powell Point and the memorial are visible from the trail to Hopi Point. 


Hopi Point is visible on the walk from Powell Point.  (See the people in the upper left corner?)

These 2 views from Hopi Point show the immense drop between the rim and canyon floor – over 4,500 feet!

Many areas of the walkway do not have safety rails.  Pay attention or you will be sailing though the air.  

The North Rim, visible in the distance, is between 15-20 miles away and is actually 1,000 feet higher than the South Rim. 

Panoramic view from Hopi Point.


After another very short shuttle bus ride, we arrived at Mohave Point.
With a nice view to the northwest, Mohave Point is a popular location for sunset photos. 
Again, it’s hard for a photo to convey the 4,500-foot drop to the canyon floor below. 
From Mohave Point, the Colorado River is visible to the west continuing to carve out the Grand Canyon’s floor even deeper.
Check back in a million years and see how it has changed. 
The Colorado River is also visible several miles to the east.
To the left (west) of the viewing area, we could see the cliffs that outline our next stop – The Abyss.


The Abyss is known for its vertical walls and deep canyons.  Just a few steps ahead is a straight drop of about 4,500 feet. (See next photo)
If you look closely in the upper left corner of this photo, you can see where I was standing for the previous photo.
I was about 50 yards past where you see people standing now.  From here, you can see the long drop-off where I was standing. 
At one time, a lava flow blocked the river and created a 2,000-foot-deep lake. 
Time and water prevailed, though, and eventually the dam gave way.
Scenic view from the walkway back to the shuttle bus stop.


 We’re nearing the end of our route – only 2 more stops after this one.

At the Monument Creek Vista, we are actually looking down into the same canyon as we were at our prior stop, The Abyss.
This view is from the left (west) side of the canyon looking northeast.


The last stop before reaching Hermit’s Rest,

our final destination on this loop.

Pima Point viewing area.
Nice contrast of the flowers and the gray valley floor. 
The Colorado River is still visible in the distance. 
The roar of the Colorado River rapids below can be heard from several miles away.
Another view of cliffside flowers and the Colorado River below. 
This squirrel obviously wanted some attention, so he started posing for photos.
After I walked over to another area, the squirrel followed me and
perched himself on the ledge next to a high drop-off.
He obviously is not scared of heights.


The last stop on the Red Line bus route is Hermit’s Rest.  Built in 1914, it was originally constructed as a rest stop for the stage line that ran from El Tovar to this location.  It is constructed of stone and timber, and was designed to resemble a dwelling constructed by an untrained mountain man.

From the entrance, a small stone arch with a bell greets visitors.   
The bell was acquired from a Spanish mission in New Mexico. 
(Photo from National Park Service)
In a senior moment, I forgot to take a photo of the outside of the building.
So, I borrowed this photo from the park website.
Inside, there is a large stone fireplace.

After a quick water break, we boarded the bus back to the Visitor Center.  

On the way back, we stopped at the Bright Angel Trailhead.


Remember this trail from one of our first stops?

This is an all-day hike to the canyon floor, nearly 8 miles roundtrip with a drop (and then a climb on the way back) of 4,500 feet.  It’s a rough, rocky trail along cliffs with long falls if you are not careful.  We passed.  But, we did walk the first part just to say we hiked part of the trail. 

Trailhead.  You can see where it zigzags down the cliff to the left. 
A view down the first part of the canyon on Bright Angel Trail.
We walked the first (easy) part of the trail!

Two views from the Bright Angel Trail. 


Our last sightseeing stop of the day will be at Yavapai Point, which is east of the Visitor Center.  There are fewer people on this loop.

The upper viewing area is a popular spot for photos!
I spotted this viewing area down a short flight of steps.  It led right out to the very edge of the cliff.
Panoramic view from Yavapai Point
Holding on to the rail since there is a 4,500-foot drop right behind me. 
There is good reason to be safety-conscious.  Since the mid-1800s,
over 770 deaths have occurred at the Grand Canyon. 
A rough breakdown (from 2001 when the total numbers were lower) follows:
53 – Died from falls
65 – Environmental (heat, dehydration, hypothermia)
7 – Caught in flash floods
79 – Drowned in Colorado River
242 – Perished in airplane and helicopter crashes (128 died in 1956 when two planes collided)
25 – “Freak” accidents like lightning strikes, rock falls
23 – Homicides

Today, we managed to see only a small fraction of the Grand Canyon.
In the photo above, I circled the entire area we visited and photographed today. 
Next week, we will be visiting the North Rim, and I will show this photo along with updates of that day’s visit.
Thank you for joining us today as we explored the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
We hope you join us tomorrow as we explore Old Rt 66 on our way to Death Valley.

Mileage Today:  110 Miles

Trip Total:   2,637 Miles

Proceed to Day 12 – Rt 66 and Hoover Dam as we pass by Las Vegas to Death Valley

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