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Grand Canyon Weekend Trip Report - South Rim

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by Falcon_Rob, May 10, 2009.

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  1. Falcon_Rob

    Falcon_Rob Flying Winnebago

    Jun 29, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report


    I moved to Vegas in January of 2007 and until two weekends ago, I had never made a road trip outside of Vegas with the exception of two quick trips to the Hoover Dam with visiting parents. My girlfriend (Danielle) and I talked about making a road-trip for a while, but always put it off. Possible destinations had been LA, San Diego, Phoenix, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon. We finally decided on the Grand Canyon and I asked for a couple days off for a quick road trip in late April. I really needed a couple days away from the felt and the noise of slot machines. Something that was VERY unlike me is that I had no motivation to really plan the trip, so I let Danielle have the reigns as far as the route to take and the booking of the hotel.

    Saturday 4/25/09

    This would mostly be the travel day. I am back on day shift at the casino again, but sometimes even day shift works into the night and I ended up with the not-so-coveted 2pm-10pm shift the night before. So by the time I got home, packed, and wound down, it was pretty late when I got to bed, which meant we'd get a late start on Saturday. Because we were paranoid about crossing the Hoover Dam for some reason, we took the route south to Laughlin and then east to hit I-40. That turned out to be a massive mistake as there was some sort of biker convention in Laughlin that weekend. They were EVERYWHERE! It took some time to get over the bridge there in Laughlin and we figure that route added another 45 minutes or so onto the drive time.

    Once we made it to I-40, it was clear sailing. The last (and only) time I'd been on this stretch of road was when Chris and I made the trek to Vegas over two years ago! Everything east of Kingman was new to me since we were in the dark on the way to Vegas. It was a pleasant drive and seemed to go much faster than the five hours that it actually took. As we exited I-40 and turned north, I kept expecting to see or "sense" something that would tell me when we'd be approaching the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I knew there was a HUGE Canyon and natural wonder of the world very close and I just assumed there would be some sort of sign of it. I was also surprised by the amount of trees/forest surrounding the area. I was under the impression that the Grand Canyon was in the dessert, just like Vegas, and I was expecting it to be pretty barren.

    I guess it was the lateness in the day that caused us to get to the Park gates with NO one attending it. We just drove right in without having to pay the $25 per vehicle fee. Score!! We got the Canyon comped!!:beer:

    Once we finally got to the rim, the sun had already set and there was very little light left. However, Danielle told me to pull over at some point (which turned out to be Mather Point) and I got to see my very first glimpse of the wonder. Awesome!! Oh, and cold!! We were now about 5,000 ft. higher than Vegas and the temperature had plummeted since we were last out of the car!

    We got back in and headed to the lodge. Danielle decided on the Maswick Lodge in the Grand Canyon Village, mainly because of the convenience. We got checked in okay and walked to our $90 per night "rustic cabin". Wow, it was small and, quite frankly, s****y for being $90 per night during an off-peak period. The lodging was the only disappointment of the trip. Danielle warned me when she booked it that it had no AC, but did have a ceiling fan. We did not take into account that the nights got down to the 20s in April at the Grand Canyon. Once again, its the dessert (or so I thought). It DID have a heater!

    After getting settled, we set out to take a walk around the Village area. I can't remember the last time I saw so many stars!!! There were NO slot machines, no motorcycles revving their engines outside my bedroom window, so police sirens or helicopters, or ANY other noise. Just darkness, quiet and stars!

    Actually, for anyone who has ever stayed in the Grand Canyon Village, it seems they REALLY LIKE THEIR DARKNESS. Fortunately I just happened to pack a small flashlight, which really came in handy this trip. There are very little street lights, or ANY light for that matter. We just walked blindly thinking we'd find some other hotels, which is what happened, but not after accidentally wandering onto the train tracks for a while and crossing up the train depot stairs to the El Tover hotel (the Bellagio of the Grand Canyon). I was hungry, so we had some appetizers and a beer or two at the El Tover lounge before walking back to the Maswick. I felt like another beer, so we made it to their lounge about 10:50pm, TEN MINUTES 'TILL CLOSING. Yep, not in Vegas anymore.

    Sunday 4/26/09

    We woke up relatively late, got ready and walked down a small trail to the rim of the canyon. Our cabin was only a few hundred yards from the rim. We had actually walked right next to the rim the night before, but saw nothing but pitch blackness. Now I was able to see what we weren't able to the night before. You really have to visit the Grand Canyon to get the full hugeness of it all. Pictures, descriptions and movies simply don't give it justice!

    We ate breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge (decent food, below average service) and set out to take in the Canyon. On a whim, my first inkling of something to do was to take a nice little stroll down the Bright Angel Trail. The trailhead was right outside where we had breakfast, so down we went! It was really cool and extremely easy to get down. After about 25 minutes and about a mile of a walk, I came to the realization that there would be no elevators to get us back up (yes, I'm joking). I had little water, I'm out of shape and although it was cool, the sun was beating down on us. Its a good thing I decided to turn back when I did because it was a chore walking back up the damn thing. I think Scott R from the board here has hiked this trail from the river to the rim, which is something I now have a new appreciation for. Our little walk barely cracked the surface of the trail, which I think is 9 miles and a 5,000 ft. drop to the river.

    The rest of the day was spent walking the rim trail, which is a trail that hugs the rim for about 13 miles, with about 20 stops along the way to get good views of the canyon. Most of the pictures that I took was on this walk. This trail is the kiddie trail of the Grand Canyon and more my speed, although if you walk west of the village area, there is a pretty decent elevation ascent for a while which gave me a little bit of a workout (don't laugh experienced hikers, I told ya I'm out of shape). One of the most interesting lookout spots was the trail lookout which gave us a full view of most of Bright Angel Trail as it meandered down to the inner gorge and out of site.

    Danielle and I planned it out so that we ended up taking in the sunset at one of the lookout points about as far west as the shuttle bus service went. I can't remember which one it was, but the sunset was quite spectacular and wrapped up a very long day of walking the canyon rim. We caught the shuttle back to Bright Angel Lodge and had dinner at the same place we ate breakfast. Same good food and the service was a little better too!

    When we got back to the cabin, we chilled out for a while and got caught up on the NFL draft. But it wasn't long before I got a little cabin fever and, much to Danielle's dismay, it was back out into the cold night for another walk around the Village area. At one point, I heard something and turned my flashlight just a few feet to see a big deer eyeballing us from about 50 feet away. It kind of freaked me out a little and we then, in pitch blackness, walked right to the fence where about 50 mules were just chillin' out. I didn't notice them until we were right next to them and got the s**t scared out of me when one snorted about 20 feet to my right. I had the light pointed at the sidewalk and had no idea they were there! These are the mules that take riders and supplies down into the canyon during the day. We finally made it back to the cabin and it was lights-out soon after.

    Monday 4/27/09

    Like Saturday, this was mostly a travel day. We woke up kind of late again, checked out of our "rustic cabin" and ate breakfast at the Maswick cafeteria. It wasn't the best food in the world, but it served its purpose. There was part of the rim trail to the west that we had not walked the day before, so we got that part under our belts and got some more pictures in. Once we got out to Hermits Rest (the most western stop on the shuttle route), we had a snack and rode the bus back to the Village. We said our goodbyes to the Grand Canyon and headed out, first stopping at the village post office to get a big post card sent to my parents.

    There was an IMAX theater not far from the Park that we were gonna check out, but the lodge's front desk told us it was something like $13 a piece for a half-hour show of the Grand Canyon, which we'd just looked at for the last day and a half. So we passed on it.

    The drive back was pretty uneventful. We took the Hoover Dam route this time and got back in about 4 and a half hours. The bridge over the canyon (Hoover Dam bypass project) has REALLY progressed since December, which was the last time I saw it. I would've taken a picture, but I was driving and didn't feel like killing a pedestrian while driving on top of another wonder of the world.

    To cap off our little weekend vacation, we treated ourselves to some all-you-can-eat sushi at the Sushi Factory near Horizon Ridge and Eastern in Henderson. Yum Yum!!

    Danielle has some good pictures from her camera, but I have to say that my camera phone takes some surprisingly nice pics. You can check out all of my pictures at my photobucket site below. They are in no particular order. I hope you enjoy them.

    Rob's Grand Canyon Pics
  2. sarah9nascar

    sarah9nascar VIP Whale

    Sep 14, 2008
    Mesquite, Texas
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    No one but a Vegas person would think getting in the Grand Canyon Park free as a comp. That's just too funny. The time we went to the Grand Canyon, we had just left Vegas. What a difference. By 9pm, we were wanting to hear slot machines. We stayed at the Thunderbird Lodge and ate all our meals at Bright Angel also. :beer:

    Great trip report.
    SEMA Time!!!!
    Nascar Championship Week
  3. flamingogal

    flamingogal Low-Roller

    Jun 15, 2008
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Sounds like a great getaway. I hope to make it to the Grand Canyon next trip DH & I make to Vegas.
  4. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

    Apr 23, 2009
    Calgary , Alberta , Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    oh what a nice report

    I've not been to the south rim but did take a day trip via bus to the west rim with a g/f back in Nov 2007 was an all day thingy trip and well worth the cost , the views were gorgeous and I did venture out upon the skywalk!! :eek: without wobbly legs

    lol @ getting comp'd way to go !
  5. shitzumama

    shitzumama Tourist

    Feb 11, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Nice pic. We decided to drive to vegas when we went last Feb. We decieded a trip to the GC on the way would be nice do we left a day early. Wish we had planned 2 days instead of 1. We stayed in Flagstaff and then drove on into the GC. Really loved it. We ate at some little cafe in the town outside of the entrance. Loved the big fireplace at the hermits rest stop.
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