Flagstaff, Arizona is the perfect base for visiting the Grand Canyon and the Grand Canyon International Hostel is the perfect base in Flagstaff because of its excellent, central location. I was hoping to take one of their tours to the Grand Canyon but I was lucky enough to hook up with the delightful Vanessa in the morning who had a car.
We headed out around 9, stopped to pick up lunch snacks and arrived at the south rim of the Grand Canyon around 11.
It’s important to have a plan when visiting the Canyon because it’s, well, big. We did not have a plan. Thank gods for off-season travel though. We found parking right away and headed to the Visitor’s Center for advice. There were no lines and we got the undivided attention of one of the many friendly park rangers on duty. He sorted us out right quickly with an itinerary that included a short hike into the canyon along the South Kaibab Trail to the Ooh-aah point and then a return to the shuttle buses to various lookout points, ending up at Hopi point for the sunset.
The shuttle system was complex. Neither of us exactly understood the ranger’s instructions on which buses to take to avoid having to hike eight miles back to the center. “I don’t seem to understand human talking anymore”, said Vanessa sadly. I had to agree as we pored over the maps.
First stop was the lookout point closest to the Visitor Center, Mather Point. Nothing and no one can prepare you for the waves of red rock that stretch to the horizon..
Eager for a closer view, we hopped the shuttle to the popular South Kaibab Trail which winds down to the Columbia River. A plethora of signs warn visitors against trekking down and up to the river in one day which it never occurred to me to do anyway. The trail was gentle and sandy which was good because I was unused to starting a hike by going downhill. The views?
Left to my own devices, I probably would have hiked down to the next lookout but I realized later it would have messed up the afternoon’s sightseeing. There were so many vantage points from which to soak up the canyon’s majesty!
We hopped the shuttle bus, getting off at each stop up to Mojave Point.
And then finished up the day with a view of the sunset from Hopi Point.
October 22, 2016