Grand Canyon National Park
15.01.2017 - 15.01.2017 1 °C
This morning was clear here at Cameron, AZ so we decided to drive the 30 miles (48 kilometres ) to the Grand Canyon National Park East entrance.
As we left Highway 89 to get onto Highway 64 that leads to the park we found a big sign that said that the road to the park was closed due to snow and icy conditions. We decided to drive at least as far as we could. There was much more snow the closer we got to the park. We actually got right to the park gate. There was a Park Employee at the gate who happily sold us an Annual U S National Park Pass. He said the car ahead of us was the first car to be admitted today. The roads had just been opened. We chatted with him quite a bit. He said he sometimes works in Alaska and drives through Canada. He is applying for the free Canadian National Parks pass available this year because it is Canada's 150th. He is also a fan of "Corner Gas". He admonished us to drive safely and off we went into the park.
The park ranger also told us that all of the snow we could see had basically fallen in one night.
The first viewpoint that we stopped at is called Desert View. We found a family there having a great time in the snow. You can also see how foggy it was. These people were likely 50 feet from us. We also wanted to share a photo of the picnic area.
We enjoyed watching some birds flying around the Desert View site. We caught a picture of one of them and think it might be a Mountain Chickadee. Reta checked online and that is our best guess.
We then walked to the Desert View Watchtower. We met another park ranger on the path. He said he was sorry that Mother Nature had thrown a white sheet over the canyon. When we arrived at the viewpoint we understood what he was saying. You could see virtually nothing.
We continued on our way through the park. A number of the viewpoints had not been plowed so we could not go into them.
We did find that the Grandview Point viewpoint was open so we drove in and walked to the viewing area. There was a group of young people throwing snowballs into the canyon. Someone had made a small snowman on the wall. Again the view of the canyon was very obscured.
We started to drive from the Grandview Point viewpoint to Grand Canyon Village. We noticed that we should get some gas for the car. The only gas is available outside the south entrance to the park so we drove out there. We found that there was much less snow in the southern part of the park.
We got our gas, and the price was high, $3.60 per gallon. The service station near our hotel was charging $2.60. We beat ourselves up for a little while for not purchasing gas there.
We returned to the park. Reta spotted an old friend, Smokey the Bear. We so seldom see that symbol for being responsible with fire in National Parks. We also thought it was humourous that the sign said that the threat of forest fire today was "low". No surprise when there was snow most places.
We drove to the "Village". We were stopped by the Grand Canyon Train on our way into town. This seems to be a tourist train. We did not look into it.
We had lunch at Bright Angel Lodge. We then walked part of the Rim Trail that runs 12 miles from the east visitor station to "Hermits Rest". There was a lot less snow in the townsite and along the Rim trail but the views of the canyon were still foggy. There was no way to see the bottom of the canyon or the north rim.
We thought we would investigate the Bright Angel Trail which runs from the townsite down to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. That trail is 8 miles long (13 kilomtres) and as you travel down the trail you descend 3000 feet. We had attempted to hike some of this trail in 1989 on a hot summer day with no water and no hats. Needless to say, we would not do that today, and we did not get that far, although from the map today it looks like we walked 1.5 miles down and another 1.5 miles back, so, all considering, it is no wonder we went for ice cream when we got back to the rim. Oh, yes, our teenaged son was with us for that adventure. Reta took a picture of Art checking the trail out. Today it was a sloppy, muddy mess. A person would just slip and slide, so trying to walk down that trail today to see if we could see more canyon was not an option, although there were people on the trail.
We returned to our car and started our drive out of the park. This picture was taken between the townsite and the visitors centre.
We noticed that a lot of the snow had melted off the trees and the road was dry.
We were driving Highway 64 past the visitor centre. What did we see on the highway? An elk. What a great surprise!
We drove on to another viewpoint. We thought that the fog in the canyon was lifting, as the visibility was so clear on the highway, so we stopped.
We still think those little snowmen are cute. Unfortunately, the view of the canyon was still obscured by the fog.
We continued our drive out of the park and back to Cameron. We took this picture as we passed from the forested area onto the desert.
We did not mention that from Highway 89 along Highway 64, until it reaches the Grand Canyon NP gates, the roadside has numerous little stands where Navajo jewelry, pottery and rugs are sold. There are also many signs suggesting that travelers stop at these commercial stands. But this sign just was too much. What year is this? Has the painter ever heard of Political Correctness? Gee Whiz "Friendly Natives"?
We travelled on to the junction of highways 89 and 64 where there are a number of businesses. We stopped at the laundromat and got the weekly laundry done. We returned to our hotel in time to cheer the Green Bay Packers on to victory. We had cheered the Patriots on to victory yesterday. We had supper/dinner at the Cameron Trading Post restaurant and returned to our room to share the adventures we had today.
We decided to call this blog "and now for something completely different" because this was a very different experience at the Grand Canyon National Park. We have visited in the summer and the fall and always found heat, sunshine and clear views of the canyon.