We finished at the Wapatki ruins at sunset and continued straight on through Navaho Nation Indian Reservation into Grand Canyon National Park!! It was completely dark when we drove through the gates so I hadn’t got a glimpse of the canyon yet. We found a place to park, cooked some Ramen Noodles and went to bed. It turned out we were in for our coldest night yet in the van. The rim of the Grand Canyon is at over 7,000 feet above sea level and we woke up in the morning to find our memory foam pillows and mattresses had actually frozen solid and there was ice on all of the windows. Awful!! Mike is the greatest man I could ask for and got out of bed to make us breakfast then we ventured to find the backcountry office. The Grand Canyon is rumored to be very difficult to get permits for. Luckily, while we were not in the off-season, we were not in the busy season and got the permits we wanted with no problems at all. We were scheduled to take a 3 day and 2 night backcountry hike starting the following morning. We spent our first day at the canyon packing our bags and checking out some viewpoints.
The enormity of the Grand Canyon is incomprehensible. It is so large and complex that it actually looks fake. I don’t really even know how to describe it!
|makes no sense|
We were very impressed with the park itself. It has a full grocery store with gear shop, restaurants, and lodging to appeal to all types of travelers. The best part is all of the prices are very reasonable, and entry into the park gets you free shuttle bus service to viewpoints and trailheads. While making our way around the park we saw several elk AND it started snowing.
It was an awesome but strange day!
We were up early the following day to catch the shuttle bus from the backcountry office to the South Kaibab trailhead to start our adventure, but not before I weighed my pack… 27 lbs! It was pretty chilly for most of the 9+ miles, about a mile descent into the canyon, to the Bright Angel Campground where we were spending our first night.
|down jackets in the desert|
We passed several mule parties on our way down the popular trail. We admired their strength, but felt sadness for their existence.
The views constantly changed as we made our way towards the Colorado River, and thankfully the temperature increased to about 70 in the sun.
The Bright Angel Campground was shockingly modern with running water, flush toilets, soap and mirrors in the bathroom. The sites lined a Colorado River tributary and were very well maintained.
We got to camp earlier than expected so we soaked up the sun barefoot at the Colorado where we spotted a fox in the brush. The rest of the evening was uneventful at the campground so we turned in early to wake up just as late as we usually do haha!
The second day of our trek took us on the Bright Angel Trail 4+ miles, about a 1,000 foot ascent, to the Indian Garden Campground where we would spend our second night. The miles passed quickly and we found ourselves at camp by noon. We relaxed for a short while to eat lunch, replace fluids, and set up our tent on the site we chose.
We set out that afternoon for a 3 mile round-trip day hike to Plateau Point. This hike was a shadeless desert hike to some awesome panoramic views from the inside of the canyon.
We spent about an hour there soaking up the landscape and talking with a British couple about travel. Back at the campsite we passed the evening playing cards and perusing books provided by the ranger, cooked more Ramen Noodles and were asleep early again.
|Sunset at Indian Garden Campground|
We got an earlier start than usual on our 3rd and final day in the canyon. We had 4,000 feet of elevation to gain over 4+ miles that day. Our earlier start meant less humans were on the trail that morning before us and wildlife lingered. We saw a single gaunt looking mule deer, family of deer,
and a ram.
The hike out, while relatively short, felt difficult. I was drained, but I made it!
Fees Waived with Annual Pass:
Carlsbad Caverns National Park $20
Petrified Forest National Park $10
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument $10
Wapatki National Monument $10
Grand Canyon National Park $25