Grand Canyon Rim to River

Grand Canyon Vacation

When the team members at VRguest took two very different vacations at the Grand Canyon, it seemed like something worth writing about. Arizona’s Grand Canyon is an enormous natural feature, spanning half the width of the entire state. Labeled one of the natural wonders of the world, it truly deserves the title. A trip to its rim inspires awe in a way few other places on Earth can achieve.

Out to see as much as possible

The first vacation I’ll use was my own. Bound to see as much of the Grand Canyon as possible, we set out to the ranger station to get our permits. As much as I would like to tell you the name of the trail, an extensive search of maps and my memory came up with no results. Oddly, I can tell you nearly every physical feature on the trail. Remarkable vistas opened at every turn on this not-often-chosen trail. Yes, I remember that much. It was a trail most people don’t opt to take. The ranger assured us that it might be too difficult for us. He didn’t know who he was talking to, but I’ll save that for the end. We hiked down, enjoying the trail immensely. About half way down, we found a hidden gem no one had described.

Grand Canyon rim

 

In the side of the canyon a small opening led into what might have been a cave. A short distance inside, rail tracks ran along on the floor. The gauge of the tracks was very small, little more than a foot wide, which was expected, since it had been used to run mining cars. We delved into the mine with our flashlights, holding back only when it divided into multiple shafts. After all, lost in a mine when no one even knows you’re there didn’t seem the brightest of possibilities.

Stunning Grand Canyon Views

Our trek continued downward, the stunning views changing all along the way. Rather than dazzling vistas downward, we then looked up to see the sun painting the wall different colors. At last we reached the flatter plateau leading to the Colorado River. There we found, perhaps, the most remarkable features of all. Volcanic rocks, perhaps twelve feet tall, littered the relatively flat land. What astounded us was that these had been bubbles in the ancient magma that had retained their shapes and outlasted the surrounding sediments. With a little imagination, they looked like broken open dinosaur eggs.

We left the magma bubbles behind to finally reach the river. We swam and sunned while river rafters occasionally passed by. Ah, then, those massive vistas became the challenge. We had to hike back up. While it seems strange to camp on the way down rather than the way back up, we managed it. We hiked from our camp, to the bottom, and then back to the top in a single day. But were we finished? Not a chance. We headed back to the ranger station and checked in, getting the same ranger we had talked to the day before. When he found out we had reached the river and were already back, his skepticism disappeared. He reached under the cabinet and pulled out a map of the canyon. He pointed to a place deep inside a Native American reservation. His tone suggested that he offered a rare treat for someone who had proven themselves. And it was true.

Grand Canyon colors

The drive stretched many hours, taking us off the main road and down dusty, sandy roads along the rim of the Grand Canyon. Through chaparral forests and endless fields of sage the dirt roads led us. On the reservations, you are expected to respect the routes and take care of them. That means when you come to a gate, you are on the honor system to close it after you. We made sure we did so. The number of people we saw along the way totaled zero. An on and on we went, winding through the Arizona desert landscape. At last we reached the campground, a point of land back inside the Grand Canyon National Park.

A Piece of the Grand Canyon for Ourselves

While there were plenty of campsites, it seemed that no one else had heard of the place or, perhaps, no one had been told it existed. We got out of the car and discovered something we ought to have already guessed. If you hike from the Colorado River to the top of the Grand Canyon, your legs are going to pay the price. With wooden legs, we set up our camp in a true paradise. The boundary of the camp was quite clear, being a thousand-foot sheer drop to the next plateau below, minus the safety fencing. We marked our bearings clearly for any nighttime strolling. We spent the remainder of the day limping about the camp while enjoying the site, peering over the ledge, photographing the vistas, and then, finally, the mind boggling sunset as it changed the colors of the canyon a dozen times before the star came out.

Despite all we saw, the immensity of the canyon still eluded us. It would take a lifetime to explore all its wonders, or to delve into its hidden corners. We had only a few days and, arguably, did our best. The promising thought is that the canyon is still there for us to visit again. And, on a benevolent note, it’s a nice thought to imagine other travelers discovering the canyon and the treasures it has to offer. Here’s hoping they experience the same wonder.

Be sure to check back in to read the post about the other trip to the Grand Canyon by our VRguest team.

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