Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Information (and interesting facts) you need to know before you go to the Grand Canyon National Park

Just for general information, I thought I'd log some of the interesting facts I've learned about the Grand Canyon.  If you want to sightsee the canyon the easy way, you can buy yourself a seat on the red helicopters that can be seen flying over. It only costs $539 per person! Guess who's not doing that?

The Canyon has been a national park for a long time, long enough that they have the transportation efficiently set up. You take your car to a parking lot and then you board a shuttle taking you to the trails and sights you want to see. You are given a map at the entrance which explains the whole thing. They have different routes depending on where you want to go. However, if you want to get a great spot for sunset, there may be a couple busloads filled up while you're waiting to go. But, the light is much better for photos about 5 PM and sunset was amazing.  The late afternoon photos are much better than the daytime ones, since the sun is on the opposite side at that time.

They do not sell bottled water, but they have a few water stations along the way where you can refill your own bottle.  It comes from a spring right down at the bottom of the canyon.  If you don't have a bottle, they will sell you a nice souvenir one.  Luckily, I brought my own bottle and the water tastes good. They could use a few more locations though.

It's a good idea to bring pretty much everything you need.  They have a little grocery store in the Grand Canyon Village as well as a store in the little village about 2 miles outside the gates.  However, the prices are at least double what you'd find in a normal grocery store.  I felt like I was shopping back in the Virgin Islands because the prices were so high.

They do have a very nice little library with WiFi that you can go in and use.  Wonderful idea for people who spend more than a couple of days there.

One thing I was surprised about was a monument for an airline crash that happened on the east end on the Canyon in 1956. Two airplanes collided, TWA and United, above two buttes in the Canyon. There is a monument in the Pioneer Cemetery in the Grand Canyon Village for 29 passengers from United Airlines who were unidentified. The remains of most of the TWA passengers were buried in a mass grave in Flagstaff. Only 29 passengers were identified and returned home.

Back in the late 1800s it seems that everyone in Arizona was mining copper. It surprised me to find out that mining was happening inside the Grand Canyon, 3000' below the the rim. This mine was reached by a 3 mile trail, still in use today by hikers. In order to bring the ore up, they used mules to haul 200 pound loads to the canyon rim. While I was visiting here, the temperatures were in the low 90s and there were signs warning of excessive heat. Inside the canyon, things heat up and temperatures over 110 were predicted during the daytime. The hikes down into the canyon are steep and winding. I went down the mine trail for a ways, but at an elevation of 7000', I didn't want to be on that trail for long.

The Colorado River cuts through the canyon about a mile down.

On the road leading into the park, you're likely to see elk grazing along the road. The first morning I went in, I was able to catch a lazy one who was apparently not hungry.

And this little guy was wandering across the street from my camp site the other day.

And the rest of the photos are just shots of the Canyon.  This Park is so massive there is no way to see the entire thing in one or two days.

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