My Top 10 National Parks: #10

My Top Ten National Parks of North America

10. Grand Canyon National Park


The Statistics

Date established: February 26, 1919

Annual visitation (2014): 4,756,771

Size: 1,217,403 acres

Location: Northwest Arizona

The Southwest Sojourn 274


My Experience

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

The Southwest Sojourn 261

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 Bad

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.

14 thoughts on “My Top 10 National Parks: #10

Add yours

  1. We just finished visiting the Grand Canyon with my grandfather a few weeks ago who is 79 and had always wanted to see it. So glad we did! We agree that even though it is a super crowded park that everyone should see it at least once! Its magnitude alone is just astounding! We really hope to hike it next time for a different perspective. By the way, we have really enjoyed reading your blog and have nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award. You can read the nomination here: and would love to read your response sometime if you have the chance!


  2. Hey Matthew! You can’t be that old with young kids! Use poles, train for the hike, and just do it. I have done down and up a number of times, all in my 60’s. Poles really help the knee thing. Especially the last time I did it, March 2016, with two new knees–one of which was less than 4 months old. A bit of pain is ok. Strengthen your thigh/quadriceps and you will perhaps have a tough time, but think positively. As much as you enjoy hiking, being at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is incredible. Or. take a river trip… the longer the better (though it is way expensive). Best to you, Matthew.

    Liked by 1 person

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