Day 3: Mon 12/23 – Grand Canyon



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.

The dining area of the hotel

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 :).

This is lava that gets pushed out of the bottom of this type of volcano.
There was a little trail into it that of course I couldn’t resist.
Lava rising up, it can get very sharp
Next stop was Wupatki National Monument to visit the ruins of a Hopi Pueblo.
That’s the Painted Desert in the background.

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 ruins.
An image of what it might have looked like 1000 years ago.
The circle on the left is the Community Room, built to carry sound throughout the basin so anyone could hear the speaker from there. That circle in the background to the right is the ball park. From the size of the people at each spot you get a sense of scope.

The above is the view to the right of the ruins.

A room at the ruins. What struck me about this was the small hole on the right side. This was a grave for a child. Chad said the Hopi didn’t visit graves of adults because they wanted the spirits to move on and were afraid human visitors would encourage them to stay. With children it was the opposite. They kept them close, thinking they would need more development to be able to move on. (or something like that…)
Inside the Community room where Chad (there in the cap on the far left) demonstrated the way voices carried.
An arena really, enlcosed wiht a 3 foot retaining wall of red stone. with red dirt as the floor. Lots of red!
The ball park. It reminded me of stuff we saw at Chichen Itza.
A square platform about 6x6, red dirt base, with a smaller stone platfrom in the midle, made of stone, about 2.5 ft square. A square hole in the middle of that, may 8in square. That's the blow hole.
The blowhole. Various weather patterns impact what happens here: it’s either blowing air out or sucking air in. This day it was blowing! Pretty hard, too. I expected the air to be warm but it was cool.
Cameron Trading Post. We stopped here for lunch.

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.

The 2nd dining room where we sat had a Christmas Tree and a nice view outside. The first dining room was packed.
Most of the table got a Navajo taco. That base is fried bread – think doughnut without the sugar. Standard taco ingredients layered onto it. I didn’t eat all of it, it was huge. But tasty! The bread was the best part.

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.

This is a gorge from the Little Colorado River that feeds into the big one.
Sign reads Desert View Grand Canyon National Park
This is Chad’s favorite view of the Canyon, so he started us here. We got here about 1:50, after leaving around 8am.
This is the Watchtower at Desert View.

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.

My first view of the Grand Canyon. Pretty spectacular. The sun kept coming in and out and the view kept changing, even standing in the same spot.

The Watchtower is directly behind me at this point.

Hopi art on the walls of the Watchtower on the different levels
The staircase followed along the wall, allowing you to look up to the high ceiling.
Selfie of me, canyon and Colorado River in the background
I had gone up to the 2nd floor Watchtower deck.
The Colorado River

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.

stunning canyon view, partially framed by a tree on the left
You could walk right up to the edge, there was no rail.

2:24pm.

2:27pm.

So many colors - various shades of blue, reds, tans, grays, with green in the corner from a tree

2:28pm.

So many colors - various shades of blue, reds, tans, grays, with green in the corner from a tree
I stood in this spot for awhile watching the sun try to peak through the clouds. The more it did, the more the view changed. An entirely new experience in Breathtaking for me. There aren’t really any words.

2:31pm.

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.

Me sitting on a stone wall about 2.5 feet high, canyon behind me
Chad, the tour guide, took this of me.

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.

A great relief map of the entire canyon in the geology museum.
A mother and small child sitting on the canyon edge, framed by trees, canyon in the background
I snapped this as we were talking back to the tour van. I loved that you could just sit on the edge and this mother and child were taking advantage of it.

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.

The El Tovar Lodge at Grand Canyon Village
Hopi House at Grand Canyon Village. This was primarily a gift shop, but constructed in the style of a Hopi structure.
Sorry, just another beautiful shot of the canyon. Not much else to say....I took too many photos...
2ne Photo of me standing against a stone wall about 4 feet high, beautiful canyon behind me
I asked another rider on my tour van to take these for me.
Photo of me standing against a stone wall about 4 feet high, beautiful canyon behind me
I asked another rider on my tour van to take these for me.

There’s just not much to say at this point.

looking into the canyon
See that line sort of down the middle? That’s the primary hiking trail used for folks starting out from Grand Canyon Village.
This is inside the El Tovar Lodge (and, most importantly, where the public restrooms were!)

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.

Chad gave me a coupon for 15% off here, one of his favorite restaurants. It was just a few blocks from where he dropped me off in Uptown so why not. Open Range is the name.
I took a table on the patio.
Amazing cornbread with prickly pear butter (that pink stuff)

I love cornbread so Could Not resist. It was amazing. And counted as dessert first.

Sirloin, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Christmas tree, full white in lights, with red garland
Merry Christmas from Sedona!

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.

4 thoughts on “Day 3: Mon 12/23 – Grand Canyon”

  1. No matter how many times I have been to the Grand Canyon, I never get tired of seeing photos and reading about it. Great post!

    1. Steve Haas says:

      Thanks! Glad you appreciated it 😬

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Grand Canyon National Park is such a bucket list destination – would love to visit one day πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you and your family ❄️⛄❄️⛄ Aiva

    1. Steve Haas says:

      Thank you so much! I hope you get there one day, you won’t regret it. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! Steve

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