The kids were excited to see the Grand Canyon. A and I had a special reason for our excitement. When choosing stopping points along our drive, we remember our first trip together to the Grand Canyon. Back when A first moved out to California (he moved to LA the year before me), we drove across the country to get the last of his stuff to his new LA digs. We were both broke college students, so we had to really pinch our pennies on this trip. We ate cheap fast food, stayed in inexpensive motels, and fueled the car (and sometimes ourselves) with A’s Texaco credit card. We stopped at the Texaco station to fuel up then realized we were out of cash. With no ATM in sight, we decided to get cash after we left the Grand Canyon. Bad idea. It cost money, cold hard cash back in the early 90’s, to enter the national park and we had none. They couldn’t take checks or credit cards, so we dejectedly turned around and headed back.
We never got to see the Grand Canyon together, so we were so excited to do this with the kids. This time we had cash in hand, but since it’s been decades since we were turned away, they now take checks and credit cards. We made our way up to the South Rim, through the village, and even got to see some Elk crossing along the way. It was also helpful that park allows pets so our dog could join us on this site seeing trip. The view of the canyon is stunning. My kids got to talk more about sedimentary layers (something that came up often on our drive here) as we walked from the visitor’s center along the rim to the west for a bit. The views from Mather Point were spectacular. In fact, all the views are spectacular no matter where you go on the south rim. I love the photos we took while we explored the south rim, so much so I used one of them as our header image.
We could only be here a half day, so we didn’t stay there long. Also, it was also the first day of July, so it was scorching hot. We got back in the car and drove along the Desert View Drive to the east. We stopped a few times to admire the view from various locations until we got to Desert View near the east entrance to the park. We decided to go check out the Desert View Watchtower that we could see in the distance. As we walked, we realized the dog was having trouble with the hot ground. The path we were walking on was so hot it burning her paws. We caught it quickly, and A swept her up to carry her back to the car.
The kids and I checked out the Watchtower and more stunning views, especially of the Colorado River below. The Watchtower is a recreation by Mary Jane Colter of a Native American tower often seen in the Southwest. The Kiva room on the bottom floor housed the gift shop. We went up a narrow set of stone steps to the observation deck above. We stopped at the Trading Post and General Store on the way back to get a snack and something cold to drink before heading out. We needed to get as far along as we could before it got too late. We left through the east entrance so we could rejoin Route 40 just south of us. This would take us through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle then eventually to our next overnight stop, Oklahoma.
KJ’s take on the trip:
My family went on a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona while on a road trip from California to Illinois. When we got there, it was scorching hot and really dry, which we weren’t used to, but the walk to the closest viewing deck wasn’t that far. Once we got to the edge, we got to see a small section of the Grand Canyon. Unlike some of those clip art or cartoon images you see of it, the real thing is one of the most awe-inspiring things in the USA! The small section we saw was massive and deep, with over thirteen different shades of red, orange, and clay tones in each of the layers, as well as veins of multiple metals and minerals. One cool thing about the Grand Canyon is that it is so massive and wide our brains can’t process it all, so the image you see looks like a painting and a bit two-dimensional!
After looking out on that deck for a while, we took a small hike down to an old tower, which had a special mirror near one of the windows that enhanced the colors of the canyon. Unfortunately, on our way to the tower our dog Tegan got her right front paw burned, so my dad had to carry her back to the car and stay with her until we got back. Despite that, we got a good look out that window and made our way back to the car soon after, dehydrated and ready to get back in the air-conditioned car. After getting in the car, we drove around to see different angles of other parts of the canyon, then finally left to get back on the road. That was an amazing experience I hope I get to experience again and hope you enjoy if you ever get the chance!