The Grand Canyon, one of Earth's most powerful, inspiring landscapes, is overwhelming. We have been there three times before and we were astounded by the beauty of the Canyon itself but amazed how the infrastructure has grown. Right outside the park is a whole new town - Tusayan. We had expected that the place would not be crowded this time of year. The first clue that we were wrong was the number of cars at the entrance even though there were six lanes open. A "campground full" sign greeted us as we checked in. Fortunately we had made reservations. But everywhere you looked there were people, many from other countries.
There is an extensive shuttle bus system along the South Rim and is really the easiest way to get around as there is limited parking. The road from Hermits Rest to Village Route Transfer station near Bright Angel Lodge is only accessible by bus from March 1 to November 30. Most times the buses were very crowded. We decided to leave a day early just because of the crowds.
That being said we had an enjoyable time. The antics and the number of elk roaming the campground were very entertaining. Of course the spectacular Grand Canyon speaks for itself. The weather was perfect. The food served in the restaurants was very good and surprisingly not that expensive. The grocery store in the Market Plaza was very adequately stocked with fresh produce, nice looking meats and all manner of grocery and camping supplies as well as souvenirs.
The South Rim and the North Rim are just 10 miles apart as a raven flies, but 215 miles by road. South Rim elevation averages 7,000 feet with temperatures in the 50's-80's in summer and 20's-50's in the winter. The North Rim is about 1,000 feet higher and 10 degrees cooler.
We drove to Grandview Point one evening to photograph the sunset. At 7,400 feet Grandview Point has the highest elevation of any marked view point on the South Rim except for Navajo Point and Desert View at the very east end of the park. Below Grandview Point is Horseshoe Mesa.
We took the bus to the Abyss stop on the Rim Trail and hiked back to the Transfer Station. The Abyss is notable for its steep walls. The Rim comes to an end and there is only air in front of and below you. Most Grand Canyon view points stick out from the rim. The Abyss is just the opposite; it is located along an indentation in the Canyon walls.
Judy and Greg Bahnmiller, a HitchHiker couple, were staying in Williams because they couldn't get into the Trailer Village campground. They drove up one day and we all had lunch at the Bright Angel Lodge. The McDole's and we shared happy hour drinks at the El Tovar Hotel.