The Grand Canyon is a very well known and popular scenic wonder in our American West. People come to Grand Canyon each year expecting to be inspired by the sheer magnificence of the natural beauty displayed here. And the Canyon never disappoints. When my family visited Grand Canyon the Park Ranger explained that the Grand Canyon presents a different look at every hour ( in some cases moment by moment ) of the day. After four days at the Canyon we were forced to agree. While we may not have gone out to the rim once each hour, we did discover that there were at least five different ways to approach the majesty of Grand Canyon and each one offered a unique perspective.
1. Just Walk Over There. Our four day stop at Grand Canyon was something we arranged for well in advance because we wanted to stay on the Grand Canyon Grounds, but in an actual motel/hotel. We found near perfect accommodations for our family at Maswik Lodge. There are other higher priced facilities available in or near the park, the most famous being El Tovar. But for $80 we found Maswik provided us with everything we needed especially proximity to a great canyon panorama.
Once we got settled in we set out to explore and discovered the first of 5 ways to view this natural wonder while visiting Grand Canyon. Someone in the Maswik cafeteria suggested that we “just walk over there” and a quarter mile later we were at the edge of the Grand Canyon holding our collective breath and all pointing simultaneously at different eye catching spectacles. We didn’t go back every hour to check the changes in the color but we found this first view overpowering, because it was the first. It’s probably the one we all still remember.
We were very happy and a bit star struck that our accommodations allowed us the luxury of just simply walking a very short distance to a perfect rim view.
2. Do you Ride? Not far from Maswik were the open corrals and stables used to maintain the pack animals that are used for descents into Grand Canyon.
We enjoyed watching the animals but had already decided that for our needs the mule back trip was a bit too demanding and costly for a party of five. Still we had the opportunity to see parts of the trail from a number of overlooks and talked to a group that had made the trip down.
If this is something you really want to do, then make sure to start well in advance to reserve a place. Most tour books recommend anywhere from 6-8 months or more in advance. The trip by mule is popular and the number of “seats” obviously are limited.
It takes hours to make the trip down and back and you can never really plan on what the weather will turn out to be. It is a view recommended to the physically capable and those who don’t mind riding a mule they don’t know along potentially treacherous paths at somewhat alarming heights. Still the opportunity to see each passing level of the Grand Canyon up close and personal is a once in a lifetime experience and one you may not be able to resist.
3. The Classic Fly Over Grand Discovery Air Tours provides a totally different perspective of Grand Canyon. If you are visiting Grand Canyon for the first time this fly over option may be one of the five ways to see a natural wonder that you will enjoy most. The experience itself is brief, the fly over lasts for somewhat less than an hour, but what you pack into that time frame is some totally incredible views. Lots of folks coming off these flights insist that it makes you feel like you are one of the hawks or eagles that call the Canyon home as you swoop in and out , up and down and certainly take in a bird’s eye view.
The price of this brief but incredible brush with nature is not prohibitive. For adults the ride is $109 and for children 11 or under it is $89. It may seem like a lot per hour but you will have a view that is also quite a lot for an hour. The trip takes in the entire Canyon and flies in a grand circle allowing views from both sides of the plane coming and going. For those mildly challenged by the idea of such a flight be comforted by knowing that you will be on board a twin engine plane for your safety and that Grad Discovery Air Tours are well experienced in their particular route.
Unlike other planes in which you have flown, planes used in the canyon have wings that are designed to give you an unobstructed view . For the photography buffs there are oversized windows that help to secure just the view and angle you may wish to capture. Only 19 passengers maximum can make this flight at any one time so you will have the chance to take this flight almost like you and your family are the only ones up there. It’s guaranteed to be one of the quickest 50 minutes in the air you have ever experienced and the one with the most dramatic views.
4. Afloat inn a Boat. Outfitters on the Colorado river in Grand Canyon can pretty much provide you with any type of boat trip you desire. There are paddle boats and oar boats, flat water trips and white water adventures, trips that last 3-4 days and others that extend for more than two weeks. The key is to consider whether you have the time, money and especially the comfort level in a boat to take on this kind of extended adventure.
If you do, then you are in for the ride of your life and views that are unique to this perspective. You are no longer looking down into the canyon. Instead you are looking up and feeling very much at the mercy of the river and the huge Canyon walls. Spending extended time in the Canyon gives those visiting Grand Canyon a chance to get acquainted with some of the year round residents. You will enjoy the appearances of big horn sheep, heron, hawks, eagles and other wildlife as you move along the river. Depending on your selection of tours, it is also likely that you will have the chance to see Indian ruins, side canyons and great spots to pull over and spread things out for lunch. There are even some ideal swimming locations for those so inclined. The view from the river is as exhilarating as the one from the rim, its just like the world turned upside down.
5. Bus Tours. There are plenty of folks of all ages who come to Grand Canyon without any inclination to do anything very physically demanding or height challenging. They want to see the Canyon but in a safe and rather limited way. There are still plenty of good viewing options.
Since the early 1900’s Harvey Tours has been providing scenic coach tours along the rim of Grand Canyon. There are other lines but Harvey Tours has the reputation and the tradition that make it perhaps the most inviting. Choosing Harvey’s will guarantee that you travel in a tour bus that has climate control and comfort to offer in an area where there can be considerable heat and plenty of bumps in the road.
Harvey Tours will make certain that you see the Grand Canyon from some of the premier viewing spots on the rim, The overlooks have been selected to give you a variety of angles from which to view this amazing location. Harvey’s also offers those visiting Grand Canyon special sunrise and sunset tours which take you to lots of the same locations as the day trips but with the added feature of the ever changing light pattern on the Canyon walls.
The Grand Canyon welcomes literally millions of visitors every year. And each person finds his or her own favorite spot from which to view the spectacular land and river formation. You may want to take a mule ride to the Canyon floor, fly over in a great looping circle, see the Canyon from inside a boat or just settle back in a tour bus and look when the bus stops. For us the most incredible view of all was the one we got by just walking out of our door at Maswik Lodge. In the Lodge we could be watching some television show and five minutes later we were looking into America’s premier vacation spot. As long as we stayed at Maswik the Grand Canyon and its many views were at our command. It’s an experience that none of us will ever forget.
5. In your dreams