Hiking and Exploring Grand Canyon National Park
Spend a weekend exploring the highlights of Grand Canyon National Park, where 1.7 billion years of geologic history are exposed in colorful layers by the down cutting of the Colorado River. Free-standing buttes, sculpted alcoves and massive cliffs spread out in front of us in a panorama of light and shadow. Our rim lodging has us in the center of the views, trailheads and is conveniently located for hiking, souvenir shopping in historic buildings, visiting the museums and ranger programs of the South Rim.
Our expert guides lead us to the awe-inspiring views from the Desert View Watchtower, West Rim Trail, South Kaibab Trail and overlooks from which the Colorado River and its famous rapids can be seen far below. We will descend into the canyon along the South Kaibab Trail for a gourmet trail lunch surrounded by fresh air and canyon vistas. Along the way our guides will discuss the park’s unique wildlife, geology and history.
At each adventurous day’s end, we can relax and refresh in our rooms before short walks along the rim to enjoy the delicious cuisine at Bright Angel Lodge, The Arizona Room and El Tovar. When we return to the vibrant desert city of Phoenix, we bring with us an extraordinary experience from one of the premier World Heritage Sites.
Hiking and Exploring Grand Canyon National Park
- Visit to Desert View Watchtower for first look at the Grand Canyon
- Hike down and up the famous South Kaibab trail for astounding views of the canyon at Ooh Aah Point and Cedar Ridge
- Enjoy a celebratory dinner at the elegant El Tovar dining room
Duration: 4 days Start Location: Phoenix, AZ End Location: Phoenix, AZDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : PICK UP IN PHOENIX AND TRANSFER TO GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Arrive by 2:00 pm at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and heading north. We progress through a series of different life zones as we climb above the Mogollon Rim onto the Colorado Plateau. Along the way our guides will explain the geologic forces that created this massive uplift and why the Grand Canyon formed. We pass through the town of Flagstaff at the base of the San Francisco Peaks; home to Arizona’s highest mountain, Mt. Humphreys and surrounded by the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest.
Past Flagstaff we are treated to the soft pastels and vast panoramas of the Painted Desert as we approach the Grand Canyon. Our first look at the canyon is from the historic Desert View Watchtower, a Mary Jane Colter building perched on the edge of the great chasm. It is only another 30 minutes of scenic driving along the rim to where we will check in to our rim lodging that will be our base for the next three nights. A delicious dinner waits at the Bright Angel Lodge after settling in to our rooms.
Day 2 : HIKE WEST RIM TRAIL
After a hearty breakfast we head out from our rooms along the rim to the west to get a great overview of the canyon and acclimate to the 7,000-foot altitude of the South Rim. Along the way we cross the Bright Angel Fault, noting the cross-canyon route it has created, visit some ancient pictographs, see the Powell Memorial, and check out the Colorado River from key viewpoints. Perhaps we can watch river runners negotiate Granite or Hermit Rapids almost a mile below us!
At the end of the West Rim Trail is Hermit’s Rest, another Mary Jane Colter historic building that was the jumping off point for the trip down to the Santa Fe Railroad’s luxurious Hermit Camp down in the canyon. Our usual spot for a great picnic lunch is on the rim near Hermit’s Rest, but for those who want a little more hiking there is the option to head down the Hermit Trail about a mile to check out some fossilized reptile tracks. With an easy-to-navigate shuttle system, the West Rim Trail gives us a flexible afternoon of more guided hiking or returning to the village area for ranger presentations on a variety of topics and exploring the many historical buildings, museums, shops and bookstores. Our day ends with a tasty dinner at the Arizona Room.
Day 3 : HIKE SOUTH KAIBAB TRAIL AND EXPLORE THE PARK
Today’s hike takes us down into the canyon along the South Kaibab Trail, famous for the best views of any trail in the park. Built from December 1924 to June 1925 by crews working in both directions this trail is one of the few in Grand Canyon National Park that follows a ridgeline rather than a fault line or side canyon, resulting in awesome panoramic views up and down the canyon for miles. We descend past Ooh Aah Point to Cedar Ridge where we enjoy a gourmet lunch before climbing back to the rim. Once at the top we follow the rim back to our hotel with stops at the Visitor Center, Mather Point, and Yavapai Observation Station and Geology Museum. Look out the giant windows at the canyon and explore the 3D map and exhibits, which tell the story of the different layers and formations you are viewing. From here we follow the fascinating Trail of Time back to our rooms on the rim. Tonight we enjoy the fine dining at El Tovar while recapping our adventures and swapping stories.
Day 4 : SUNRISE HIKE AND TRANSFER TO PHOENIX
It is hard to believe this is the last day of our journey! For those inclined to rise early we will hike from our rooms to Trail View Overlook for the moving experience of sunrise at Grand Canyon. Coupled with the beauty of the sun appearing over the desert to the east is the ever-changing light as the sun illuminates the canyon walls from the top down. A short walk back to the village gets us ready for a delicious breakfast at El Tovar before some free time for last minute photos, purchases, or awe-inspiring views before we pack and head back to the south. Taking a different route back to Flagstaff we will drive along the beautiful Highway 180 which offers spectacular views of the San Francisco Peaks, giant meadows, ponderosa forest and volcanic cones. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like elk, mule deer and pronghorn. In Flagstaff we will enjoy a wonderful lunch before resuming our journey to Phoenix where our guides will drop us off either at the airport or hotel of choice. If you choose to fly home this evening, book your outgoing flight for 7:00pm or later.
DATES: Best time to go: April - November Departures: Aug 28 - 31, 2014 Sep 4 - 7, 2014 Oct 16 - 19, 2014 Oct 30, 2014 - Nov 2, 2014
Rim Lodge (TBA)Grand Canyon
Lodging could be at the Thunderbird or the Kachina Lodges.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
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