The Grand Canyon wasn’t somewhere I ever particularly wanted to visit. The National Parks sold my trip to America, but it was Yosemite and Crater Lake that I wanted to see. However, Grand Canyon was on our route across the US, no extra driving needed. Also, could we really complete a five week road trip without stopping at one of the most well known tourist attractions? We decided not.
I mean, I’ve seen photographs of the Grand Canyon but nothing prepared me for that first view. I don’t think I spoke for at least ten minutes. I found no words to describe that view and I’m very rarely lost for words.
We were told by Neecy that the Grand Canyon is just an optical illusion, that it’s a projected image that is switched on in the daytime and after dark it is switched off, hence why you can’t see anything. It would be easy to believe this story as the canyon itself just doesn’t quite look real.
I almost felt like I must be on some kind of version of the Truman Show. This couldn’t possibly be real, it must be an elaborate trick and this whole other world must be watching me, laughing at my gullibility thinking that such a thing could be real.
But it is real and it is jaw droppingly beautiful. One of natures finest pieces of art work. A Cézzane of the natural world. Even on the photographs, which are beautiful, it’s not as beautiful as the real thing. You can’t feel the magnitude and grandeur of the place from a photograph. You can’t feel your heart beat faster as you look over the edge. You can’t feel the sun heating your skin as you wait patiently for it to set.
If you’re ever given the opportunity, it is so much more than you could ever imagine and definitely worth a visit. It wasn’t even as busy as we expected. We expected tonnes of tourists which would ruin our view but it is so vast that this isn’t a problem.
Now, let’s talk about the park itself. We booked a camping spot (or car-ping, as we slept in our car on more occasions than I’d like to admit) on Mather campground. There are three main reasons that I’d recommend camping at the Grand Canyon:
- You can watch the sunset over the Canyon without having to worry about driving out of the park later in the dark and getting caught in traffic with all the other people who thought to do the same thing.
- The park has lots of different guided tours and talks throughout the day. In the evening, around 8.30pm there is a talk or film down in the amphitheatre. The amphitheatre in itself is amazing; a little secluded haven in the middle of the forest with beautiful seating. We listened to an excellent speaker talking about the park and learned lots of interesting new facts.
- The stars. We saw more stars here than anywhere else on our trip. We had only ever seen the milky way once before, in New Mexico, but when we saw it here it was so much brighter. Fortunately, talented Conor captured them beautifully, as you can see below.
The park itself has so many great talks, visitors centres and shops to take a break from exploring in the sun. If you’re a bit of a geek like me where it is vital for you to understand how something was created, the visitors centres explain it all. The park rangers are so kind and knowledgeable that they will also help with any questions that you have, no matter how small.
Finally, the cherry on top of the cake; the beer selection. We really weren’t expecting this one. Grand Canyon General Store had one of the best craft beer selections of everywhere we visited. And, they were relatively cheap. I know, right? You just can’t beat a cold beer whilst camping.
So, beers under the stars, after watching the sunset at the Grand Canyon… not sure I could have planned a better Friday night if I’d tried! Then, to top the weekend off, we decided to spend Saturday night in Las Vegas… more on that soon!
Where’s the best place that you’ve spent a weekend?