The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the seven natural wonder of the world (and also a UNESCO world heritage site), and there was a time while I was planing our trip in which it wasn't included. Now this was not because I didn't want to visit it, but more because the visit had to be a day trip from Las Vegas. I know we would have to spend the whole day driving just so we could spend two hours there. But the spirit of travel prevailed and we made the trip, and I guess that why I wanted to write about How to Explore the Grand Canyon in One Day, simply because I know that it is a day trip for a lot of visitors.
How to Explore the Grand Canyon in One DayThe first thing you have to know if you are making the day trip from Las Vegas, like we did, is that you can't trust Google Maps (and yes I'm aware that I have included a google map below :). Not because I won't show you the right way, but more because it will be misleading in time. The drive there takes just over 5 hours, so you have to start your day really early. We embarked on our trip at 7 in the morning, made a stop at a Walmart Superstore to get breakfast and coffee, and headed out into the desert, crossing from Nevada to Arizona.
Grand Canyon Visitors CenterIn order for a day trip to work you will have to think of the things you want to see. The Canyon is the main attraction and there are many viewpoints along the South Rim where it can be seen and explored. Multi day visitors have the luxury to plan hikes into the valley or go rafting on the Colorado river. You will have to pay 25$ at the entrance to the Grand Canyon Village which is located along the south side of the canyon. The road leads you straight to the Grand Canyon Visitors Center. You can explore it for a while as well as the main view point (which you can see in the images above), but to me these parts where not that much fun, because of the swarm of tourists.
The best places to see the Grand Canyon fromDriving east along the Desert View Road, will actually get you to the best viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. So yes, the car will be your friend for the day trip, just like in the Yosemite Valley. We were driving towards the Desert View Watchtower, which you will see at the end of this post. Beware that most of the places here have open spots without railings. This means that you can get very close to the edge, but also that you have to be very careful. Deers will come out of the woods in most places. They are used to people though, but it was surprising to just see them sitting along the road.
Desert View WatchtowerWe arrived at the Desert View Watchtower just as the sun was starting to set, and indeed it's the best time to be there. You will be tempted to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk and similar tourist traps (in my opinion), but mostly will skip historical places along the ridge of the canyon. When we arrived there were not many people there at all, which was surprising. The Watchtower overlooks the canyon and Colorado river beautifully. The four-story structure of the watchtower was completed in 1932, and was designed by American architect Mary Colter, an employee of the Fred Harvey Company who also created and designed many other buildings in the Grand Canyon vicinity including Hermit's Rest and the Lookout Studio.
Bring water and food with you for this day trip, since you won't be able to buy any here in the desert. There is a McDonalds and Wendy's right at the entrance to the park, but once you get to the watchtower for example those will be 30 minute driving away. On your way back I encourage you to search for Route 66 signs, since most of the road back coincides with this Historic Route. Make sure to leave early enough so that you don't catch the night in the desert and highway. We only drove one hour in the night as we were returning back to Las Vegas.
The Grand Canyon is an inspiring place. It shows the power of nature, as well as the beauty of it. I hope these tips from our visit could be of help for the future traveler.
We are winding down our visit to the USA. Next stop is Los Angeles!
End of Part Twelve
To be continued...