Monday’s are one of those days most people dread. The weekend is over and a full week of work is staring them right in their morning bloodshot eyes. In Vegas, it’s almost 100 degrees before you even get that first cup of coffee and slip on your winter gloves to hang on to the hot steering wheel.
Then you have the Vegas tourists and their guide wanting to escape this Vegas heat. That would be ME! All of us anxious to escape Vegas and head to someplace more beautiful and cooler. A place that’s almost 20 degrees cooler and there is not a cubicle in sight. Not even a meeting room or a water cooler can be found unless you really know where to look and I don’t go looking for them!
Destination: Grand Canyon National Park – South rim
Standing on the rim of the canyon and looking into this geological wonder never gets old. It’s never the same view, it’s always changing with the sun, the clouds and the seasons. Looking in and realizing you are seeing close to 2 billion years worth of earth’s age tells you just how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. People love it and I am always told by my guests that photos just don’t do it justice. They are right!
THIS is how I like to spend my Monday’s
Friends of mine on Facebook will occasional post about how they hate Monday’s or how the cubicle farm is getting to them. That’s when I like to post a photo from my “office ” for the day! Yea, I get the hate mail after that!! There aren’t too many benefits to this job, but getting paid to enjoy some fresh cool air and exercise at the Grand Canyon is one of the intangible benefits of being a tour guide.
Take the Tour
If you do choose to take a Grand Canyon National Park Tour from Las Vegas, do not plan anything else for that day. It is a 12 to 14 hour day. I may be biased, but I do believe it is worth the time and effort to see since you are really THAT close to it. This is one of Mother Nature’s greatest achievements, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.
The journey to the Canyon is not all that exciting unless you have a tour guide who enjoys what they are doing and knows the local terrain and history (I do). Once there and once you are on the Rim, you realize that the destination certainly makes up for whatever the journey may lack. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s Beautiful.
- The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound Documentary (DVD)
- Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon (Book)
The journey includes going near or in our case, on Historic Route 66, What John Steinbeck called “The Mother Road”. People from all over the world venture to this part of the Southwest to experience what is left of a little piece of asphalt. A simple road that has a fascinating story of what helped settle the west.
During the Great Depression, a lot of out of luck and out of work families from the Midwest packed up what little they had and took off for world’s unknown on Route 66. This highway fueled their dreams and hopes for a better future for their families.
On the day trips, we get to spend 3 hours on the rim of the canyon. Visiting several great overlooks that will give you a taste of its size and geological history. All the paths are well maintained, paved and handicap accessible. There are guardrails and overlooks to stop, sit and gawk at this wonderful wonder.
I always recommend making time to enjoy the Yavapai Geological Museum. There, you will see a 3-dimensional map of the canyon, some awesome views of the Colorado River below including the famed Phantom Ranch where the mule riders, rafters, and hikers stop to rest. Plus a look straight across to the higher, cooler and more remote Grand Canyon North Rim.
Wildlife at The Canyon
Seeing wildlife at the Canyon is a hit or miss deal. The cooler weather brings them out and sometimes you can actually walk past them and not know they are a few feet away in the trees watching. They tolerate us, tourists, because they know we will be leaving soon. So some tend to pose for the camera in hopes of getting you to move on and leave them alone. Please: Leave them alone. Take your picture and move on. Do not try (like others I have seen) to get a selfie with an elk. It never ends well for the person with the selfie stick. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE! It is against the law and is not healthy for them!
Driving it Yourself
Driving it yourself, you miss a lot of information that is not easily available. The journey between Las Vegas and the Canyon is boring, rocky and sometimes pretty flat and monotonous. It helps to have a little narration, a few informative stops to understand the people and the surroundings as well as stretching the legs. Learning how it was settled and why it is such an important part of American western history and truly adds to the enjoyment of what you are looking at.
If you do drive yourself up there, I recommend spending the night or even two nites and see more of it. Plan far enough out and you can stay at one of several hotels, lodges, and camping in the National Park. Just outside the park is the town of Tusayan that is home to the National Geographic Grand Canyon Imax Theater as well as most other tourist accommodations. Stay a little further out in the town of Williams and you get to enjoy the feeling of the small town America, Route 66 atmosphere. Williams is also home to The Grand Canyon Railroad. A daily excursion train that goes to the Grand Canyon in the morning and returns later in the afternoon.
Being 7,000 feet above sea level, you are still much cooler there than you are in blazing hot Las Vegas!!
There are some spots off the paved path for you to get a little closer to nature and to the canyon itself!!
Hike The Rim
If you have the time and get the permits earlier in the year, you can hike down into the canyon. Or hike from one rim to the other! The hike from South Rim to North Rim is a strenuous 21 miles down, across and up. The drive around from South Rim to North Rim is about 5 hours. A couple of the guides I work with have actually completed what’s called the Rim to Rim to Rim hike. Yes, it is what it says it is. Hike from one rim, down, across, up to the top of the other rim then return. Usually takes 2 to 4 days depending on your ambition, level of craziness and ability.
After about three hours, I gather everyone back up and head back to Las Vegas. Pop in a movie, make a couple of convenience stops and let them rest, relax, watch the movie or sleep! We hit Vegas and realize we are back into reality, back into the heat with the fresh memories of having spent a wonderful day in nature.
- Grand Canyon National Park is not where the “Glass Bridge” is. That’s the Grand Canyon West Rim
- Grand Canyon West Rim is closer to Las Vegas, but it’s just as hot there as it is in Las Vegas!