Experience the Grand Canyon, Arizona
If you have landed on this site from my blog on Page, Arizona, you will know that we had just experienced a whirlwind day leaving Monument Valley to tour Antelope Canyon, followed by cruising the beautiful Lake Powell, and also spending an unbelievable afternoon and sunset at Horseshoe Bend. Our journey then continued, with a three hour drive to the Grand Canyon.
BREAKFAST ON THE RIM
After a leisurely breakfast sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon South Rim, in rather cold temperatures which left my lovely hot breakfast cold within minutes, we decided to spend the morning walking the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, before venturing to our 3.30pm helicopter flight. The South Rim is an easy walk with spectacular views the entire distance. Don't forget if you do get tired, you can always take the shuttle bus to other points around the rim.
SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE GRAND CANYON
For those of you who read my blogs, you will know I like to include some information on the places we stay, just to help gain some insight into the natural wonders around the world. If you look at the statistics below, it's hard to envisage the enormity of the Canyon and believe me standing on one side of the Canyon and trying to decide how far across or deep those crevices are - impossible - I failed dismally.
Many people consider it to be one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 kilometres) in length. At its widest point the Grand Canyon stretches 18 miles (29 kilometres) across. At its narrowest point it stretches 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) across. The Grand Canyon is around 6000 feet (1800 metres) deep. The Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon and has been eroding its steep sides for millions of years. The rock found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (schist) is about 2 billion years old, whilst the rock found on the upper rim (limestone) is around 230 million years old. American Indians have been living in and around the canyon for thousands of years. If you get a chance, do not miss hiking to Havasupai Indian Reservation at the bottom of the Canyon.
GRAND CANYON HELICOPTER TOUR
The helicopter flight was certainly a highlight of our trip to the Grand Canyon. We had decided on the Grand Canyon Spirit tour provided by Maverick Helicopters. We chose this tour due to its flight route, travelling over the South Rim, past the North Rim and around the Colorado River. One of the other reasons was that there would only be four people in the cabin, which meant we were both assured a window seat in either the front or back of the helicopter. I ended up in the front window seat - a huge win.
Just after takeoff, the flight took us over the beautiful Kaibab National Forest, which is home to the world's largest stand of ponderosa pines. We were also lucky to see some moose in the forest below. This part of the flight becomes an even more amazing experience, as upon reaching the edge of the canyon after passing these pines, the South rim drops away as the North Rim and eastern end of the canyon come into view. I would say one of the most spectacular views in the entire canyon.
In the distance, it is possible to see the Painted Desert and Desert View Watchtower.
The flight continues as you follow the Colorado River upstream.
We were able to view the Marble Canyon and Point Imperial as we flew through the canyon and climbed above the North Rim.
The views were amazing once on the North Rim and then we headed south through the Dragon Corridor, the widest and deepest part of the canyon.
We passed the Little Colorado River and had bird's-eye views throughout the entire flight. I would totally recommend taking a flight over the Grand Canyon.
After we crossed over the Colorado River towards the end of our flight, we flew back over the South Rim heading toward the airport. It's hard to describe the "rush" you experience as you fly fast and low over the Kaibab National Forest, with pines flashing quickly before your eyes, before landing back at the Grand Canyon Airport - honestly amazing and exhilarating.
THE GRAND CANYON AT SUNRISE
One of the highlights of the Grand Canyon is sunrise and sunset. I had missed the sunrise the morning before, so set my alarm for 5am after checking out the predicted sunrise time. Our photographic equipment was ready from the night before and we ventured outside, only passing three other people on the rim, into -3 degree Celsius temperatures. We had scanned the South Rim the day before to decide on a point where we believed we would get the best vantage point to see the sun rise over the Canyon.
The point we chose, was approximately a one kilometre walk west from El Tovar. We set up our tripods and waited as the sun slowly rose over the Canyon. This was a great spot, as we had magnificent views of the entire area and there was no one else around. The sunrise did not disappoint and the shots were magnificent.
SUNSET AT THE GRAND CANYON
Sunsets at the Grand Canyon are as stunning as the sunrise. You can take sunset shots from pretty much any point along the rim. I didn't have my tripod with me, but you can still capture some stunning colours as the sun starts to set over the Canyon.
Photographic rules definitely state not to put so little sky in your landscape shot, such as this photo; and it is a very solid rule in depicting landscape photography. However, I really wanted to show the beautiful river flowing through the Canyon at sunset. So I ignored the rule and whilst not the best photographic photo, I captured what I wanted to capture.
IS THE SOUTH RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON BUSY
I had read so much about the South Rim of the Grand Canyon being extremely busy and I am sure that due to the stunning scenery, at peak times this area would be extremely crammed with tourists. In early November when we visited there were people walking the South Rim, but we could not say it was ever a problem or interferred with anything we wanted to do. Parking could take a little longer to find, but we opted to walk, rather than drive. Early morning and late afternoon, we did not see many other tourists at all.
We came across plenty of Elk in The Grand Canyon. Just be sure to keep your distance and allow them to roam and do their own thing.
We opted for two nights at El Tovar, which was a fantastic hotel and the location was superb, directly on the edge of the South Rim.