We chose to visit the south rim. The north rim is closed during the winter months. The west rim is 5 hours from us and really only has the skywalk which is $79 pp to walk on. 😦
We drove up to the Grand Canyon 3 times and took the Grand Canyon Railway train, directly from our RV Park , once. See my post on Williams, AZ for that trip. Also, Flagstaff is about the same distance if you want to stay there and drive into the canyon, here are the things we did in Flagstaff (30 minutes from Williams). The drive took 1 hour and the train ride took 2 hours. I prefer driving.
The first day we parked the RV and drove up on a Saturday to show the girls the canyon for the first time. It was a Saturday and we had driven from Phoenix that day so we only had a little time. We went directly to the Visitors Center to get the Junior ranger books and walk out to Mather Point. There is an amazing Visitors center that is run mainly on solar panels provided by the Arizona Public power company. This was not here when I visited 15 years ago. Mather Point is a 5 minute walk from visitors center. Abby said it was breathtaking.
We stayed for the 4:00 ranger talk about Elk where we were able to touch an elk coat and hold an antler. We did see real elk on a different day up here. Chris is the dog from the Grinch:) He’s so creative.
The girls and I drove up on Monday and explored the Village and went out to Hermits rest. The Hopi House, Bright Angel Lodge and El Tovar are great buildings to check out.
This photo had a bit of a scary moment. Abby chose to stay back and take the picture- she has a thing about ‘safety’. Mackenzie and I have a thing about ‘living on the edge’ so we stepped out to the ledge together.
If i would have been alone, I would have done this type of thing with no fear and gone out alone just to sit and reflect or perhaps ask someone to take my picture, but when I had children I realized I became more reserved. I
now had a fear and that was of something happening to them. But as I stood there looking over at this ledge one of my daughters asked to walk out there. I looked Mackenzie in the eyes and saw the same passion I had to do it. Now had Chris been there- this would never have happened. Chris and Abby are cut from the same cloth with regards to safety and heights.
Mind you it was a cold and WINDY day. I held Mackenzie’s hand so tight, as tight as you hold a 2 year old when walking across a busy street, and we walked out there. We slowly turned around and posed. Mackenzie asked if she could let go, I said no but we could raise our hands in joy. Just as we did this a huge gust of wind came along. It was so strong my grip tightened so hard and my facial expression I’m sure was priceless. Abby captured the moment and we walked back toward her. The moment did not disappoint! We talked about it for awhile and she was excited to tell Daddy about it 😳
We saw Elk for the first time! Yep they look like large deer. They do run differently.
We loved the Hopi House. The girls have studied the Hopi culture and several other Indian tribes but Mackenzie has really found a love for the Hopi and learning everything about them she can. We wanted to visit the Hopi community about 2 hours from us but they don’t allow visitors during the winter months. We have learned so much from the museums in the southwest and west that has seemed to appease her.
Kenzie and I had fun playing with our sunglass lens and taking pictures sitting on the edge of the canyon rim.
Hiking part of the Bright Angel Trail.
I hiked this trail 17 years ago, all the way to the bottom and spent the night and hiked back. It takes all day and is a tough hike so we only took the girls down for about 30 minutes and walked back up just to give them an idea of being inside the canyon.
The last day we drove up was on Friday December 29th, so it was a holiday. It was so crowded! It took us 2 hours to get to the gate, verses the normal 1 hour. If you ever can plan a trip here on an off season, I highly suggest it!
We only went to turn in their Junior Ranger books, so it was quite frustrating, but because Abby had been sick we really had no choice since we were leaving the next day for Nevada. They had three books at this park to complete (if you ask them- it’s a little secret) and they were given a special 2016 centennial badge. We decided to spend a little more time and visit the Desert View Tower on the other side of the south rim, which is the last thing we had to see to check off our list. You can truly see the whole park in 2-3 days. I recommend 3 if you want to do some hikes. If you only have one then you can see the main highlights with no problem.
We were fortunate to visit on the off season so it wasn’t busy except the last day.
We were advised to go to Park Headquarters, instead of the visitors center because it was not as busy to turn in our JR books. It was great advice, there was no one in there and the ranger was new (from my birth state of Maryland) so this was her first time pledging Junior Rangers, she asked to take a picture with the girls. Then we drove out Desert View Tower and stopped at many over looks.
Desert View Watchtower
We walked to the top of the spiral staircase and then had a ice cream:)
There is a Fred Flintstone park on the drive to the Canyon on Hwy 64. We just drove in to take pictures, the girls barely know anything about this show. I’ve shown them a video in the past but that’s it so we didn’t pay the entrance fee to go inside.
Other National Park in the area- Petrified Forest and Painted Dessert.