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Thread: I may be going to the Grand Canyon.

  1. #16
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    To book lodging at either rim of the Grand Canyon, search for Xanterra. That's the concessionaire in the park (and in other national parks)

    When I was planning our trip to the GC, I went to the Xanterra web site, and booked the cheapest rooms available. Even a year in advance there were few rooms. At the famous El Tovar (the original hotel at the end of the railroad) we discovered that our room was downstairs, with a view of the dumpsters behind the kitchen. We didn't mind too much, since the room was clean and nicely furnished. But I had a conversation with one of the staff about booking.

    The advice was to go online, see what's available, note the names of the rooms and types, and the relative prices. Then get the direct phone number of the lodge and talk to the front desk. Tell them what you want, and the clerk can access their computer and explain what's available at the moment. That information won't get to the concessionaire's website until later, and there may be rooms available that won't be listed on the website, or late cancellations.

    The staff advice also was to not automatically for the cheapest room. If you're only staying one or two nights at a famous place with a stunning view, why not spring for another $50 and get a really nice room?

    The alternative is to stay outside the parks at some reputable hotel/motel. When visiting Bryce Canyon, we booked at the Best Western in Springdale, which was clean, air-conditioned, and reasonably priced. Springdale has a town shuttle bus that goes right to the NP entry station, then you ride the free NP shuttles up the valley.

    At the South rim of the GC, there is Tusayan "village" just outside the park with 50 or so of the usual motel chains, IMAX theater, McDonalds, etc. But of course, you're several miles from the actual canyon, in a touristy environment.

    Enjoying the GC requires getting out for walks, watching overhead for big condors, having breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the edge, hiking a trail here and there, and perhaps bringing home some 8mp photos you have printed as posters.

    My wife and I really enjoyed Zion Canyon. We bought some water shoes and walking sticks, and hiked up the narrows in the Virgin river between sheer cliffs a thousand feet straight up.

    Bryce is awesome, but IMHO the overlooks are pretty much the same. My suggestion is to make the loop to the end of the road, but on your way out, go to the first overlook outside the entrance gate, and spend a while there. You can get the feeling, take a hike, shoot some photos, and it's just as amazing as going higher up the mountain to do the same. That's also a good tactic if the weather is cold. We stayed at a motel at the junction, but I wouldn't do that again. I'd plan to stay overnight somewhere else, and visit Bryce as a day trip.

    There are all sorts of interesting side roads off the main highways. One I really liked is the Burr Trail east of Boulder on 12. For the first 5 miles or so it's just boring ranches. Then suddenly you arrive at the top of a spectacular red rock canyon, where you descend a narrow road to the bottom. It's paved through the canyon, and since it's not well known, there are few tourists.

    Capitol Reef is a spectacular area where the mountain is tilted up at an angle (the reef). It's a good ride or drive, with a few washes on the way. Torrey makes a good overnight stop. There's a nice pizzeria across the road from the Best Western about 5 miles east of the Torrey junction. Or, if you want one of the best meals in the west, do dinner at the Cafe Diablo at the west end of Torrey. Best southwest food I've ever eaten.

    Yes, absolutely have a Navajo Taco at the Cameron Trading Post near the junction of AZ 64 and 89. They also have low budget motel rooms. They serve fry bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But unless you're REALLY hungry, get the half order of taco, not the full.

    If you get near Page on AZ 89, be aware that there is a unique sandstone slot in the cliffs just to the east of Page on AZ 98. It's on Navajo land. The entrance is across from the power station. You buy entrance at a tiny Navajo shack, and someone will drive you up the wash in a 4x4. The whole experience takes an hour or two, but will stick in your brain for the rest of your life.

    If anyone is interested, I could dig up some photos and post them.

    pmdave

  2. #17
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    Antelope Canyon on Navajo reservation near Page UT
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  3. #18
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    Hiking the Virgin River at the N end of Zion Cyn.
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  4. #19
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    a view from S rim Grand Canyon
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  5. #20
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    About to attack a HALF order of Navajo Taco at Cameron Trading Post. Fry Bread on bottom, covered with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, guacamole, etc. For breakfast the fry bread gets an omelett on top. Salsa, of course
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  6. #21
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    Heading east on UT 9 out of Zion NP. The highway ascends the cliffs with switchbacks, then goes through a dark tunnel, illuminated only be a few "skylights" through the rock.
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  7. #22
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    Capitol Reef NM near Torrey UT
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  8. #23
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    Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley AZ near Kayenta
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  9. #24
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    Vermillion Cliffs along highway AZ 89 between N Grand Canyon and Navajo Bridge. Please, don't attempt to gawk while riding.
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  10. #25
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    Paved road in Burr Trail canyon from overlook, SE of Boulder UT
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  11. #26
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    Here's one huge sandstone cliff on the plateau in Arches National Park.
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  12. #27
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    The north rim of the Grand Canyon is at around 7,000 feet, about 1,000 feet higher than the south rim. The landscape is much more tapered. Somewhere down there is the Colorado river.
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  13. #28
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    An old postcard of the lobby of the El Tovar lodge on the S rim of the Grand Canyon. The lodge was built by the railroad to bring in tourists, and was the first to be built at the Grand Canyon. It's about 100 feet from the lip, and just uphill from the old RR depot at the end of the line. The railroad still runs, and the El Tovar has been recently refurbished.
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  14. #29
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    The National Park Service has a great online guide to the Grand Canyon at http://www.nps.gov/grca/

    One very useful part of this guide is the "trip planner" section, which has all sorts of interesting and useful information about the Canyon.

    pmdave

  15. #30
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    If you are interested in what the Grand Canyon looks like from the river, I've traveled the length of the canyon by 17' wooden dory twice. I have extensive photo and trip logs on my website.

    Our trip in 2004: http://dvandkq.net/Grand%20Canyon%202004.htm
    Our trip in 2003: http://dvandkq.net/Grand%20Canyon%202003.htm
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