The day before our Sedona Trip, my family decided that we should see the Grand Canyon. Now it’s worth mentioning that my family, like the countless before us, fell into the vacational quagmire known as ‘mindless sightseeing.’ Not one of us had any particular interest in the Grand Canyon, but we all felt compelled it see it by the almost tangible feeling of expectation breathing down our necks with its hot, rancid breath. So we went anyway. Ultimately I’m glad we did, but it always bothers me when I see things just to say I’ve seen them.
It’s also worth mentioning that I didn’t bring a camera for unfortunate reasons known in clinical psychology circles as ‘terrible decisions’; all these pictures are courtesy of other photographers. These are not my photos, and I deserve exactly no credit for any of them. I’ve added them so our visually inclined readers can slug through my words without feeling the need to jump off the Canyon rim.
If you end up visiting the Grand Canyon yourself, there are many great things to see (see below). But for me, the most enjoyable part of the visit was the 3 hours spent hiking around the rim. Hiking is particularly enjoyable here because there’s ALWAYS a breathtaking view, no matter where you are (unless you choose to hike with a sleeping mask, which I don’t recommend). It’s also great because the vegetation and rocks provide great shady places to stop and eat or just rest.
This is what it looks like when you hike.
Even so, the shade is really unnecessary because of the dry air, which has so little humidity that it feels like 80 degrees when the temperature is supposedly near 100. Hiking in the crisp air and wind made for one of the most comfortable hikes I’ve been on (temperature-wise). Note that the same will NOT be true for your car. The hot Arizona sun will heat the interior of your car to blistering temperatures in only a few hours. Be sure to crack a window, or you might burn yourself on your seat belt when you return like a witless simpleton (see: me).
If you’re not faint of heart, you’ll also enjoy visiting the famous (or infamous, depending on your personal comfort level with heights) ‘Grand Canyon Skywalk.’ This is a glass-bottomed U-shaped structure that reaches out over the canyon unsupported from below. While the views are amazing, you’ll probably find out whether you have more faith in human engineering or gravity.
There are also lots of off-site things to see if you get the opportunity.
One of the coolest places (in my opinion) is called Antelope Canyon. It’s a long drive away from the Canyon, but truly incredible if you have eyes or an interest in irregular geometry (strangely, the ‘chaos of irregularly iterated fractals canyon’ just doesn’t have the same ring). The rock formations in this canyon look both carved and smooth, with edges and warped surfaces. If you visit around noon, you can see the ‘light of God’ at the bottom, like in the picture.
'Light of God' or just really cool optical physics? Both?
If you can make it (it’s a long drive), try visiting the Hoover Dam. I particularly liked how the Hoover Dam is a marvel of human engineering placed smack in the middle of some of nature’s best engineering. If you couldn’t tell already, I’m a huge fan of contrast and corn dogs (you probably couldn’t tell the second part).
The Hoover Dam simultaneously gave me feelings of empowerment and vulnerability. Humans as we know them have only been crawling around for a few thousand years, whereas the Colorado River has been carving the Canyon for millions of years; regardless, we’ve managed to erect a structure to regulate all that natural change in a geological blink of an eye.
On the flip side, when I see the Hoover Dam, I don’t see a dam …well, I do see a dam, but I also see a battle between the concrete it’s made of, gravity, and the billions of gallons of water constantly pressing against it. It’s here today, but gravity isn’t going away any time soon; nature always wins in the end.
Despite its touristy ‘street-rep,’ it’s definitely worth your while to make at least a stop here. It’s the one place on Earth where you can take a picture anywhere under any conditions and have it look awesome. Poor photographers (see: my family) don’t need to worry about lighting or scenery. The Grand Canyon is popular for a reason.