On Monday I got up about 4am after about 6 hours sleep, which is very normal for me. I got the blog up before heading over to breakfast at 6am.
I booked a Grand Canyon tour; sorry, The Ultimate Grand Canyon Tour!, with Arizona Safari Jeep Tours. Originally I’d planned to roam Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon on my own but I’m very glad I changed my mind. It was very relaxing to have someone else do the driving, and I picked this tour in particular because it included other things that I wouldn’t have thought to do on my own.
I met the van at their office which is in Uptown. He was out picking up other passengers at their hotels, 10 others in all – a family of (two brothers, their wives and kids) and a family of 3. I got to sit in the front passenger seat as the single so was pretty happy about that.
The tour guide’s name was Chad. He was super knowledgeable about everything we would come across during the day, you could tell he read a lot of history and science books. It’s just want you want on a tour like this.
Our first stop was Sunset Crater, a cinder volcano cone just north of Flagstaff (which is about 23 miles north of Sedona, by the way). It last erupted in 1085, and erupts every 10k years. So we have time :).
I took this shot walking from the visitor center to the ruins about 100 yards behind it. This was the vista you had to your right.
The above is the view to the right of the ruins.
We left the ruins about 10:45am and got to our next stop around 11:30am: The Cameron Trading Post. This had a huge store in front with a decent sized restaurant in back. The store is all Native American made items, including jewelry, a wide variety of art, Navajo blankets, etc.
I should say here that all of the morning was spent in the Navajo Nation, an Indian Reservation. It’s roughly the size of Ohio, with the vast majority of it in the northeast corner of Arizona, with small parts into Utah and New Mexico.
We left here about 12:45 and made one other stop at a little trading post on the side of the road where Natives were selling jewelry. Most of the van was very happy about this; as the non-shopper of the bunch – especially when it’s jewelry, which is all this was – I took a quick glance not to be rude then sat in the van and waited for them to be done. Thankfully it wasn’t long.
Chad really encouraged us to go to the Watchtower first, get our first views from there, take whatever photos we want, then go up into the Watchtower and explore that before heading out for other Canyon views. So that’s what I did.
The Watchtower is directly behind me at this point.
From here I went in search of a restroom. I’d lost my group and went back to the van to make sure I wasn’t late but no one was there. I headed back towards the Watchtower and remembered there’d been a nice viewing area to my left, which I hadn’t stopped at because of Chad’s suggestion! So I went back to that. What was so great about it is it was a little off the beaten path. This path lead from the tour bus parking lot, of which there weren’t a lot of this day. If you were coming from the car parking lot, you went down a path more in the middle. All that to say: there was no one else here. I literally had this all to myself. It was incredible. Later, some of my group came upon this and joined me.
This next series of photos were taken from essentially the same spot, within 10 feet of each other at any rate. This one above taken at 2:21pm.
We left here probably around 2:45 and Chad took us to the 2nd stop he had planned, Yavapai Point.
All of this is on the South Rim, by the way. I learned today that the North Rim is about 1000 feet higher, therefore colder, and doesn’t have the development that the South Rim does. We were at about 7000 feet, which is why you see a little snow here and there.
The reason Chad likes this stop is they have a geology museum. He gave us a ton of information all during the trip about the uniqueness of the Colorado Plateau on the planet, and why it’s home to so many national parks. (Don’t ask me to repeat any of that!) At the museum, he used some of the exhibits there to show more of the geology he’d been explaining, including why and how the Grand Canyon happened, and what was so unique about the elements in this combination on the planet that facilitated it. Again, can’t repeat it but I found it interesting.
Next was our last stop, the Grand Canyon Village. This is the most popular stop, with several lodges, and of course the famous mules if you want to ride them into the canyon. (We saw them on our way out.) It’s also where the train is.
There’s just not much to say at this point.
We met at the van at 4:30pm and made our way back to Sedona, stopping only once for a restroom break. Chad dropped me off about 6:45pm.
I love cornbread so Could Not resist. It was amazing. And counted as dessert first.
And that was my day. I still can’t believe the photos and I was there.
Sedona only gets 17″ of rain a year. And today is one of those days! So who knows what I’ll end up doing. It clearly won’t be another hike.