A friend of mine told me before I left on my big birthday road trip that he took four days to see the Grand Canyon with his family, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Because of that, I figured I’d be able to see one little section of the south rim, and see it well, while I was there for a full day. But, in this instance, it just wasn’t true and I was able to see the length of the south rim that’s under the protection of the National Park Service in the full day.
There are other sections of the canyon out of the NPS’ control and I wasn’t worried about those on this trip. Now I was just interested in seeing the south rim and doing a few hikes on park service land. What it came down to though was a trip much like the one I had at Bryce Canyon National Park, another stop I made on the Grand Ciricle of National Parks.
On my first day I drove to the eastern entrance and saw the historic tower, which was being renovated, and enjoyed the view for a bit. I continued to do this as I made my way back down to the Grand Canyon Village, but I never required all that much time at any one location since the view, albeit impressive all around, never changed a great deal from one spot to the other as it is a huge and massive canyon no matter where you stand.
When I arrived at the village though I finally found something of interest other than the canyon itself. Sure, I enjoyed seeing the canyon and was in awe at its beauty at times, but in the village there was a Native American dance ceremony that celebrated the different cultures that lived around the Grand Canyon before American pioneers moved west and took over the land.
The dance performance, which was unusual for this time of year because the kids are generally still in school or enjoying their spring break in other manners, was quite impressive and very entertaining. I quite enjoyed the stories and descriptions of the various dances, but particularly was impressed by their performances. The three kids obviously spent a lot of time learning and practicing the dances and seemingly pulled them off flawlessly to my uneducated eye.
My favorite was the hoop dance, which seemed like an impossible task of coordination through dance, juggling, balance and endurence. It was only performed by the eldest student, and he pulled it off marvelously as he didn’t stumble or drop a single hoop. It was obvious that he put a lot of effort and concentration into his practice that made him do it so well. The crowd acknowledged this with a resounding round of applause, as jaws dropped to the pavement, when he finished.
The rest of my day, after enjoying the dance performance, was spent seeing the various historic buildings in the village and then enjoying the further west section of the south rim on a bus tour; it is not open to private vehicles outside of the winter months. I was quite disappointed in all of this though as all of these great buildings have each been turned in to souvenir stands. The hotels are certainly still hotels, and some buildings have different trinkets than others, but generally they all sell the same things and are just there as gift shops.
Back in my lodge room I thought about the day I had experienced. And in hindsight, I don’t think I required or desired any more time at the canyon’s rim as I saw everything I wished to see at the rim and didn’t rush it. What I would’ve liked to have more time to do was some hiking down into the canyon. But, unless you have a good week or two to spare, which holds true for a rafting trip as well, it’s impossible to really hike down into the canyon. The only hiking you can do is down the lip a bit to get a little lower, but hiking down into the canyon takes more than just one day – along with plenty of preparations for lodging down there and provisions to bring along.
I can appreciate what my friend was saying about having more time to do everything at the Grand Canyon, but a full day was certainly enough for me at the south rim. Of course though, as I enjoy hiking, I’ll definitely be heading back to hike down into the canyon and see the Colorado River close up; doing that would be a fantastic adventure that I know I would greatly enjoy. First thing is first though as I think I need to take rafting the canyon off my bucket list before I do any hiking.