Grand Canyon

One of our main reasons for taking the cross country trip was that we had been wanting to see the Grand Canyon for our whole lives.  When we travelled through Europe and made friends there, one of the first things a non-American would ask when (s)he found out we are American was if we had been to the Grand Canyon, and of course we have lived in the US our whole lives and never seen it.  When we got home I asked my parents and countless other people if they had been and so many people had not gone! I was a little bit in disbelief, but as we drove to the Grand Canyon we realized how far out of the way it is from big cities. So I can see why others are hesitant to travel so far, although it is totally worth it.

On this trip we had two wonderful days at the Grand Canyon.  What was so surreal about our visit was that the first day was a cloudless 40 degree day that was beautiful to hike in and the next day there was snow all over the canyon and almost zero visibility. Such a difference!  We spent the whole first day riding the bus to different spots on the canyon and freaking out about how huge it is.  You can see it in pictures but there is really nothing like seeing it in person.  You can't comprehend the magnitude of it all. We took a 3 hour hike into the canyon and were rewarded with some magnificent views not only looking down into the canyon but also when you looked up at all the nooks and crannies of the canyon walls.  At around 5 pm that night, as we were coming out of the canyon, it started to snow and didn't stop until near midnight.  We ordered pizza and watched "6 Days 7 Nights" (a classic Harrison Ford late 90s movie) and it was honestly was one of my favorite nights of the whole trip.  We couldn't help but keep talking about how amazing the Grand Canyon was and how we can't wait to come back and hike more extensive parts of the canyon.  Eventually, I want to go to havasu falls and take a raft down the Colorado River inside the canyon.  I'd like this to be a place we make trips to frequently, because the natural beauty of the canyon is unbelievable. 

The next morning I was excited to hike the canyon with snow in it and see a completely different perspective of the canyon that people rarely see.  But, as you can see from the pictures when we got there, the visibility inside the canyon was nearly zero.  There were clouds settled into the canyon and snow and ice everywhere.  We walked around for a bit and let Zelda play in the snow but then we decided to leave and start the long trek out to civilization. We could have been upset that our second day didn't go according to plan but thankfully Matt and I are very laid back when it comes to travel.  Nobody can control the weather so all we could do is enjoy each other's company on top of the canyon and take in how different it looked instead of being upset about it.  As a traveler you have to learn to roll with the punches.

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon can be pretty intimidating, so start on the National Park Service site. It has a plethora of information on there to help you plan your trip.  Next is deciding on the North Rim or South Rim. Both have pros and cons but just know the South Rim is open all year long.  This is the route we chose to go.  

How to get there: Lodging at the grand canyon is not cheap.  Especially during high season. You can cut costs by staying in Gallup, NM or Flagstaff, AZ.  Both are small towns that have a bunch of cheap hotels to stay in. We stayed in Gallup and woke up at 6am to drive into the Grand Canyon (about 4 hours away). There is a small airport extremely close to Grand Canyon National Park but flights are insanely expensive.

Where to stay:
Grand Canyon Lodges - located inside the national park these accommodations have a wide variety of price ranges.  This is also the place to go to book accommodations inside the canyon.
Red Feather Lodge - pet friendly and an inexpensive hotel just minutes away from the National Park entrance.  This is where we choose to stay and it worked out fine for us.
There are of course a variety of chain hotels for a range of prices.
If weather permits you can of course choose to camp inside the National park - but not inside the canyon, as that requires a special permit.

What to eat:
I'm not going to lie, the food near the grand canyon is not the best. If you are staying outside the National Park there are only a handful of (over priced) restaurants in the area along with some fast food options. We choose to eat at We cook pizza and pasta (yes that is really the name) and the food was mediocre but got the job done after hiking in and out of the canyon.

What to do:
There are so many different view points and exhibits around the grand canyon.  Our biggest advice is get up early and explore.  The Rim Trail is a favorite but can get extremely crowded, especially during high season since it is an 11 mile paved trail around the canyon.  We did part of the Bright Angel trail and made it about 2 miles into the canyon.  It was pretty strenuous but well worth it for getting amazing views all to yourself.  There is so much more than hiking to do though, if that's not your thing. Check out the helicopter toursriver tripsmule ridestrain rides and bus tours.

Other Road Trop Posts: Our Route // Arkansas // Dallas // Santa Fe // Turquoise Trail // Vegas // Death Valley // Tahoe // San Fran // Costanoa Lodge // Big Sur // Playoff game in Pasadena.