The Grand Canyon embodies the scale and splendor of the American West, captured in dramatic vistas, dusty trails, and stories of exploration, preservation and exploitation.
We’ve all seen images of the canyon in print and on-screen, but there is nothing like arriving at the edge and taking it all in – the immensity, the depth, the light. Descend into the canyon depths, amble along the rim or simply relax at an outcrop – you’ll find your own favorite Grand Canyon vista. Though views from both rims are equally stunning, the South Rim boasts many more official and dramatic overlooks. One of the most beautiful in its simplicity, however, is the view that whispers from the Grand Canyon Lodge’s patio on the canyon’s quieter north side.
Hiking an Inverted Mountain
You don’t have to be a hard-core hiking enthusiast to taste the park’s inner-canyon splendor. Even a short dip below the rim gives a stunning appreciation for its magnificent scale and awesome silence; descend deeper for a closer look at a mind-boggling record of geologic time. The park’s raw desert climate and challenging terrain demand a slower, quieter pace, and that’s just perfect, because it’s exactly that pace that is best for experiencing the Grand Canyon in all its multisensory glory.
Native American and Pioneer History
Ancestral Puebloans lived in and near the Grand Canyon for centuries, and its pioneer history is full of wild and eccentric characters who wrangled this intimidating expanse for profit and adventure. Their stories echo in the weathered trails they built to access terraced fields; the iconic mule-train traditions that lured 19th-century tourists; and the stone and timber buildings constructed by the railroads in their effort to codify the romance of the American Southwest. Ranger talks and South Rim museums explore the park’s native history, showcase indigenous dwellings and crafts, and tell inspiring tales of intrepid entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and pioneer tourists.
Two Billion Years of Rocks
One look at the reds, rusts and oranges of the canyon walls and the park’s spires and buttes, and you can’t help but wonder about the hows and whys of the canyon’s formation. Luckily for laypeople with rock-related questions, the South Rim has answers, primarily at Yavapai Point and Geology Museum and the Trail of Time installation, and both rims offer geology talks and walks given by the park’s knowledgeable rangers. For a more DIY experience, hike into the canyon with a careful eye for fossilized marine creatures, animal tracks and ferns.
Why I Love the Grand Canyon
I came to Grand Canyon for the first time with my toddler and newborn in tow. Frazzled and exhausted, and always the skeptical traveler, I was prepared to be underwhelmed. But seconds after walking onto the veranda of the North Rim lodge, I understood. My canyon isn’t about the view alone, which I knew from postcards and books, photographs and oil paintings. Its power lies in the grounding silence and dusty quiet, the smells of ponderosa and desert, the clarity that comes from feeling so very small. We return year after year.