SOUTH RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON
One of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is also one of the most iconic images in the American West. The chasm is immense – a mile deep and up to 18 miles across. Carved by the Colorado River and framed by the stark northern Arizona desert, the layered rock, sheer cliffs and craggy plateaus of the canyon take on an otherworldly appearance. To explore this ruggedly beautiful landscape is to experience an epic adventure. At Road Adventures, we make it the trip of a lifetime. Start your tour at Grand Canyon Village along the South Rim. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center has information on canyon viewing, park activities and attractions. Take time to watch the movie Grand Canyon: Journey of Wonder – a visual feast. Afterward, learn about the Canyon’s unique geology through the many interactive displays and exhibits. You’ll also want to take in the Historic Village District, just two miles from the visitor center. This historic area features landmark park structures, many of which are designated National Historic Landmarks. Now that you’re oriented, you’re ready to experience the Canyon for yourself.
HIKE, BIKE, OR SHUTTLE ALONG THE MAJESTIC SOUTH RIM
The Grand Canyon can be explored on foot, by bike or by vehicle. For hikers, one of the most popular trails is Rim Trail. Approximately 13 miles long, the path hugs the rim from Pipe Creek Vista to Hermits Rest with many places to enter or exit along the way. Mather’s Point is one of the most popular viewing points along the trail. Two lesser known but even more impressive views are Yavapai Point and Park Headquarters. Biking is allowed on all paved and unpaved park roads, but care should be taken as bikers share the road with vehicles and there are no bike lanes.
For a more relaxed ride, take the Hermit Road Greenway Trail which provides a designated bicycle path. Remember, the temperature in the desert can soar well over 100 degrees, and at 8,000 feet in elevation the air is thinner. Guests are encouraged to hike or bike early in the morning or after 4 p.m. and be sure to bring plenty of water. For those who want to tour in comfort, there’s also a free shuttle system with three different routes. One explores Grand Canyon Village, another travels west along the rim, and the third follows the South Kaibab Trail. Guests can get on or off at any shuttle stop. After a full day of touring, you’ll look forward to returning to your home base. The Grand Canyon Williams KOA in Williams, Arizona, is less than an hour from Grand Canyon National Park. This deluxe campground features an array of amenities, including a swimming pool, bike rentals and full service tour concierge. At night, the high desert sky is so clear you can almost reach up and touch the constellations. At the South Rim, within Grand Canyon Village, is Trailer Village, a concessioner operated RV park with full hook-ups. Mather Campground and Desert View campgrounds are also on the South Rim. There are no hook-ups at either.
ADVENTURES EAST AND WEST
There are many scenic drives along the South Rim. One of the most popular is the Desert View Drive. Starting at Grand Canyon Village, the road follows the rim some 26 miles. Along the way, stop and take advantage of the many overlooks with sweeping views of the canyon. Another popular drive along the South Rim is Hermit Road west of Grand Canyon Village. For a truly memorable day trip, drive east to Marble Canyon, Arizona and cross the Navajo Bridge – the only driving bridge across the Grand Canyon and one of only seven land crossings across the Colorado River for more than 750 miles. To experience the Grand Canyon in a completely different way, drive west to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. There you can get a bird’s eye view of the canyon floor at the Grand Canyon Skywalk. The Skywalk allows visitors to step off the South Rim and walk 70 feet out over the Grand Canyon with nothing but glass separating you from the bottom more than 2,000 feet below. How can this be? The Skywalk is a U-shaped, cantilevered glass-and-steel walkway. While the walkway is perfectly safe, the views are killer.
RIDE BACK IN TIME
Welcome aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. In operation since 1901, the train takes passengers on a two-and-a-half-hour journey from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon South Rim. You’ll travel in comfort, as all of the cars have been grandly restored and air conditioning added. Guides on board will share area history and answer your questions. As you travel, soak in the ancient desert landscape and look for indigenous wildlife including antelope, coyotes and mule deer. After spending the day exploring the Grand Canyon, you’ll board once again to return to Williams. But be warned! Train robbers are known to lurk behind desert outcroppings… (But that’s OK – it’s all part of the entertainment.)
Are you ready for an adventure?