My Top Ten National Parks of North America
10. Grand Canyon National Park
Date established: February 26, 1919
Annual visitation (2014): 4,756,771
Size: 1,217,403 acres
Location: Northwest Arizona
Number of visits: Three
Total days in the park: Five
Where I stayed: I have camped out four nights in Mather Campground and spent a night in the Kachina Lodge.
My favorite view: Desert View. There are plenty of amazing views of the Grand Canyon from the rim, but you can see the Colorado River from Desert View. The river isn’t visible from Grand Canyon Village. This is a story of my first view from Desert View. And here’s one from there when I raced a huge storm.
Wildlife seen: Elk and deer
Favorite hike: This one’s easy… the Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point. I really haven’t done that much hiking in the park, though. I haven’t made it to the bottom of the canyon; although I did have a reservation once (I’ll get to that in a future post). The 12.2 mile hike to Plateau Point was very scenic and very difficult. I’ve also hiked a few miles on the South Kaibab Trail and a couple miles on the South Rim Trail. I’ve written about this: Part One and Part Two.
Bonus Point: The Grand Canyon isn’t too far from Havasu Canyon, the most magnificent place I’ve ever visited. Havasu Creek flows into the Colorado River, so it is a fairly short hike into Havasu Canyon if you happen to be rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
If I Return
I’d love to stay in the El Tovar or the Bright Angel Lodge. I liked Mather Campground, so if I return with a tent, I’d be happy to sleep there, too. I’d like to return at some point to show my kids the canyon. I’m pretty sure I’ve missed my chance to hike to the bottom, though. My knees could never handle the journey downhill.
Why You Should Visit
It’s the freakin’ Grand Canyon! I mean, come on?! It’s one of the natural wonders of the world. Even if you’re not going to hike down into the canyon, or if you can only stay for an hour or two, you should still see it at least once.
The Grand Canyon is extremely popular (rightfully so). Unless you choose a slow time to visit, like the middle of winter, you’ll likely fighting for views. It’s still worth the trip, but be prepared. If you want to stay in a hotel on the rim or hike deep into the canyon you better make reservations long in advance.