Saturday, 5 October 2013

Holiday Post Part 7 - A Day at The Grand Canyon West Rim

After leaving Chloride we drove on and turned off for the Grand Canyon Road.  It was another 60 miles or so to get to the Grand Canyon, so we figured it might take an hour or so.  As we got closer to the Canyon the landscape started to change.  Here's a picture of what we could see from the road.


The second picture is the stretch of road we had to navigate in the last 10 miles of the journey.
We didn't figure that this last 10 miles of road would still be under construction and would alone take over an hour to drive in our campervan crawling along at less than 10 mph with everything rattling in the back.  The dirt road was being resurfaced and was rutted by the heavy plant machinery and vehicles constantly using it.  It wasn't a pleasant journey.  I felt extremely stressed worrying, when we saw no other vans on the road, that perhaps we weren't supposed to take the van there at all and would be turned away.  Not to mention worrying that we might damage the van.  I was so relieved when we finally reached the car park and parked up.  There were only two other campers there, neither of them hired.  Most other visitors had either come by car or coach.

Anyway, it was just starting to rain as we reached the Visitor Centre.  We went in and bought our tickets.  By way of explanation, the land on which the Grand Canyon is situated is owned by the Hualapai Tribe of Native American Indians and a licence/permit to visit has to be purchased, which is included in with the ticket.  Also included is any taxes and your transfer by coach to the viewing points of the Canyon itself, of which there are two.  The tickets for the three of us cost approximately £80 or $130.

All the workers at the Grand Canyon are Native American Indians and most live a couple of hours away from the visitor centre in Peach Springs, commuting there on a daily basis to share this phenomenon with the many thousands of visitors.  We promptly boarded the coach to the first viewing point, Eagle Point, and boy was it breath taking.  There are no barriers at the viewing points and you can wander close to the edge of the Canyon, not too close though I might add.  In addition, probably because a storm was brewing, the air was charged with static electricity and our hair started to stand on end.  We took photos of us looking pretty silly.

At this point you may be expecting me to post some fabulous pictures, but I have just read on my entrance ticket that you should not use any photographs of the Tribe's land, directly or indirectly, in any publication without first obtaining the necessary written approvals and permits, so I am respecting their wishes and not posting any of my photos, which anyway were not that great, as a small camera such as mine could not really do credit to the magnificence of such a landmark.  As a consequence, please feel free to Google images of Grand Canyon West Rim, Eagle Point, Guano Point and the Grand Canyon Skywalk which was a glass walkway built to enable visitors to walk out over the Canyon and view it from above.  We didn't go on the walkway as it was quite a bit more expensive and we were on a budget.  It was a beautiful structure though.

Although we had read in travel guides that the West Rim did not have the best or most magnificent views of the Canyon, they were still pretty amazing.  Also at Eagle Point were copies of the types of dwellings traditionally lived in by the Native American Indians, an amphitheatre where a Native American Indian musician was playing and a shop, which Little Bird and I paid a visit to.  You could buy some amazing Native American Indian crafted produce including huge feathered head dresses, bows and arrows, dream catchers, beautifully crafted silver jewellery, etc.  As we were on a tight budget I just bought this Native Indian herbal ointment made from orange, sage and lavender.  I do love to try different herbal remedies and tried this on a rash Little Bird had on her leg and it seemed to help clear it up in no time.  It also smells lovely and is a great size to keep in your handbag.

From there, we caught another bus to the second viewpoint which was Guano Point.  The bus driver very kindly told us the very interesting story of how it got it's name.  A man boating down the Colorado River which cuts through the Canyon, found a cave filled with bats' excrement (otherwise known as guano) on the opposite side of the Canyon from the Guano Point.  This cave was later mined for the bats' poo which was used as a fertiliser in agriculture and used in the production of make up and other products until it was eventually all used up and the mine closed.

To get to the mine, which you could just about see from Guano Point, a cable car was constructed 7500ft above the Canyon to take the miners to the mine.  Imagine commuting to work like that every day.  It was scary just looking out over the Canyon never mind being suspended in a small metal box above it.  I hope they got danger money.  The structure from which the cable car was suspended is still situated on the edge of the Canyon at Guano point and can be seen when you visit.

As we reached Guano Point a thunderstorm started which made the whole visit incredibly atmospheric.  There was thunder and lightning striking all around the Canyon.  It was fabulous and really made you feel in awe of this amazing place.  We finished our visit at Guano point and then headed back to the Visitor Centre and our van.  We could also have visited a third location at the Canyon where you could ride on wagons, participate in crafts/activities, eat and even stay overnight if you had prearranged this.  Unfortunately, we still had quite a journey ahead of us to get as far towards Las Vegas as we could, to take the van back the following morning at 11 am, so we needed to leave.

As we drove out of the Visitor Centre car park and headed back on the 10 mile stretch of rutted road, a couple of van loads of US fire fighters were gathered, called there I suspect just in case a fire resulted from the lightning.  When they saw us set out along the rutted road in the campervan they all broke into laughter.  I can only assume they thought we were complete crazies. They were right of course, we were.  I wouldn't recommend taking a campervan along that road, until it has been completed anyway.  To pass the hour it took us to travel it, I got out my patchwork and started sewing whilst OH negotiated the ruts.  It helped to pass the time a lot more quickly and a lot less stressfully.

In my next and final post (hooray I hear you call), we head back to the literally bright lights of Las Vegas for our final two nights there before flying home.


  1. What an amazing road trip you had. Scary to be so alone at times and not fun to be laughed at but you are here to tell the tale so all ended well !

    1. By the time we left the Canyon I could definitely see the funny side of it. It had to be done I guess and no harm was done to the van or us.