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Tuesday, February 23, 2016


by Mauverneen

If you have been to the Grand Canyon I need not explain it. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon I can’t explain it.

It is beautiful. It is stunning. It is awesome. It is mesmerizing. Pictures cannot do it justice. For some, it is a spiritual, even mystical, experience. And for some, it’s just a place to check off the bucket list. Approximately 5 million people visit the Canyon every year. A mile deep, 277 river miles long, and an average of 10 miles across, there is no easy way to get from the South Rim to the North Rim (which is closed in Winter). To drive from where I stood on the South Rim in Grand Canyon Village to the North Rim's Village is over a 200 mile drive.

For some reason, getting your picture taken standing on this rock seemed the thing to do
Although I had been there before, it is a place I don’t think I could ever tire of seeing. Taking a trip to Northern Arizona, I vowed I would see it again. This time I wanted to spend the night in the park, as close to the canyon as I could get. I settled on the Yavapai Lodge. 
Yavapai Lodge - made up of numerous motel like structures with several units each - nestled among the pines
I arrived late afternoon, in time to check in, locate my room, haul in my luggage, turn up the heat and head for the nearest overlook before sunset. As it turns out, I was not the only one hurrying to stake out a vantage point for either.
Both sunset and sunrise turned out to be magical times to view the canyon as shadow and light shifted across the rock formations. Rocks glowed in the golden light and purple shadows covered the deepest parts of the canyon. It snowed lightly off and on during the day, and clouds moved across the sky, looking ominous at times. 

 Getting around the canyon is easy. Well marked trails for bikers and hikers, paved roads with numerous viewpoints, and shuttle buses make it accessible to everyone. And though I drove, the train operates between Williams and the Grand Canyon, and the shuttle buses provide excellent transportation inside the park. 
El Tovar - front entrance. A historic property, it opened in 1905.
Back of El Tovar. At right, the large windows are part of the dining room. The canyon is directly behind me.
El Tovar Lobby

Dining room where I had dinner. Almost on the edge of the canyon itself
I decided to treat myself to dinner at the El Tovar. And a treat it was. Be warned - reservations are a necessity! It's a lovely place and I browsed through the gift shops after dinner. I ordered the day's special - Steelhead Trout. I decided to pass on the wine, but one bite and I called my waiter back. A meal this delicious called for a glass of wine.
Steelhead trout on a bed of rice, topped with a garnish of jicama and pomegranate

I found the El Tovar at night with little problem, the roads and signs seemed well marked. and believe me it was dark! The next day, wanting to go back for some photos I got a bit lost. I must have paid better attention in the dark, knowing I would not want to get lost then!  
I spent my day at the park driving from one end to the other, stopping at lookout points to stare into the glorious wonder of the canyon. At one point I found out something I did not know. Something tragic. In 1956 two airliners were involved in a mid-air collision over the Grand Canyon. All 128 people perished. The tragedy is memorialized with a marker and is a National Historic Landmark. The worst air accident to that time, it led to higher standards of air control and the establishment of the FAA.
Another memorial also warranted a stop. This one is to John Wesley Powell, the one-armed, Civil War veteran and adventurer who led the first documented expedition of the Canyon in 1869, and a second trip down the Colorado River in 1871.
John Wesley Powell Memorial

One of my favorite views! From Desert view lookout
The ravens are huge birds. This one, perched on my mirror, was either looking for a hand out or trying to hitch a ride. 
Driving along, I came upon a group of cars stopped alongside the road. I asked what was going on and was told there were Elk. It turned out there were several, mostly rubbing their antlers in tree branches. I tried, but it was nearly impossible to get a recognizable photo. I can tell you though, they are massive animals!  It was a real treat to see them.

Elk on the side of the road. You can't tell from this picture but these animals are HUGE!
 I swear he was as big as my car!

As I left the park and turned my car south, towards Sedona, I reflected on my day. I had now seen the canyon in summer AND winter, I had seen deer, and birds I was not familiar with, was treated to an unexpected elk sighting and had seen the sun rise over the most magnificent canyon in the world. I was positively one lucky lady!

Sunset at the Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park

  All photos are my own, unless otherwise credited
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