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Montreal, Canada
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Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

This is part 2 of our family trip report with the first part having been posted in the Sedona Forum and detailing the first part of our trip in Scottsdale and then Sedona.

After leaving Sedona we stopped for a beautiful hike at the West Fork Trail and then continued on to Flagstaff where we made a quick stop for lunch.

From there we took the beautiful (great open spaces and wide vistas) and very quiet (as hardly any other cars) route 180 up to the Grand Canyon.

Thanks to the great advice on this forum we decided to spend a night at the south rim and succeeded a few months back in getting a room at the El Tovar hotel which was just steps from the Grand Canyon rim. Upon check in we asked if any upgrades were available and for an addition fee (reasonable) we were able to stay in one of the suites. We had read on-line that the rooms there were small and expected such but when we walked into the suite we could not believe how large it was as it was almost two rooms in one.

We then headed down to the shuttle bus route that went out along the section towards an area called Hermit’s Rest. The shuttle buses were free and came promptly every ten minutes this time of year. What was nice about this shuttle route was that it was closed to private cars and therefore relatively quiet. The bus stopped at many BEAUTIFUL viewpoints along the way and it was easy to get off, take in the amazing views, and get on the next one.

The real highlight came when we decided to actually walk between two of the shuttle bus points. It is fairly easy to figure out which section to a walk as a free map is provided that shows the walking distance between the various shuttle bus view point stops. The section we did was between Mohave Point and a view point know as The Abyss. Walking this 1 mile section of trail was one of the highlights of our entire ten day trip as we found ourselves pretty much completely on our own along this trail and were able to just stop whenever we wanted to take in the INCREDIBLE views with no one else around. We saw elk along the way and even a rainbow appeared. For anyone looking to get away from the crowds and experience the awe of the Grand Canyon in peace and quiet I highly recommend this option.

My wife and son had elected not to walk the trail and headed back to the El Tovar where they were fortunate to be able to get a table for dinner even though they did not have a prior reservation. My daughter and I walked into the Bright Angel lodge and were promptly seated and had enjoyable meals. On our way back to the El Tovar in the dark we stumbled upon a number of elk eating grass on the hotel’s front lawn – magical!

The next morning I was up early and jogged along the paved rim trail to the Yavapai Viewpoint in the hope of catching sunrise which I had read can be beautiful from this point. Unfortunately it was overcast so there was not much of a sunrise but it was nice to see the light appear along the canyon walls while standing quietly next to people from all over the world.

We checked out of our hotel and drove to the Visitor’s Center where we parked our car and caught the Orange shuttle bus that took us out to the South Kaibab Trailhead (no cars allowed there). We then all hiked down the first section of the trail (1.5 miles each way; took us 25 minutes to go down) to a spot called Ooh Ahh Point. The views were spectacular and it felt good to be down in the canyon. We decided not to continue on down another 1.5 miles to the next spot called Cedar Ridge as we knew that we had quite a walk back up with the kids.

We arrived back at the top some 40 minutes later and caught thw shuttle back to the Visitor’s center. We grabbed a quick lunch bite at the little food place they have there next to the bike rental place (which looked like another un way to explore this area).

We then drove out along what is known as Dessert View drive and stopped at a number of the spectacular overlooks along the way.

In all we only spent 24 hours in this section of the Grand Canyon but we were so glad we did – the scenery just defied description.

From there we made our way north along a beautiful stretch of highway to the town of Page and the magnificent Lake Powell which I hope to describe in Part 3 soon.

Arizona
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for Scottsdale
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1. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

It does defy description but you did a beautiful job of it Treepalm, thanks for sharing.

Sedona, AZ
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for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
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2. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

24 hours can be a perfect amount of time for an initial GCNP experience. You proved it.

Chattanooga...
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3. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

You did create a very nice "sampler" for yourselves! Lots of viewing from the rim, good use of the shuttle, a short hike below the rim - well done! And your room upgrade and snagging that El Tovar dinner show that, while prior reservations are better, last-minute goodies are there if you're not too timid to ask.

Thanks for the report.

Harleysville...
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for Fountain Hills
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4. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

You really hit on a good one with walking the trail that one mile. It is so perfect and not at all crowded like some other areas. Glad you also experienced walking down into the canyon. You planned it just right. Thanks for sharing.

Hopewell Junction...
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5. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

Thank you so much for your trip report. We are 'following' you; flying into Phoenix on the 18th, staying in Scottsdale then Hyatt Sedona, El Tovar but taking the 12 hour plane, jeep, and raft tour to Lake Powell.

Looking forward to reading more about it!

Wickenburg, Arizona
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for Wickenburg
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6. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

I think you couldn't have used your time at the GCNP any better. So glad you had a great experience ... and your report will be an inspiration for future visitors.

Fairhaven...
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for New Bedford
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7. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

I wish I had done what you did at the Grand Canyon. I missed Hermit's Rest. I felt like I saw a lot of it though, so no regrets, but if I had read this before my trip, I surely would have done it. Great tip.

Willamette Valley
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8. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

We will heeling a similar trip next July with a 9 and 11 yr old so I am using a lot of your tr to help me. Thank you.

Bengaluru, India
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9. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

Thanks for your trip note. I am planning to do similar things with my family.

I had a question with regard to the car - what car did you drive? A full size or a SUV? I don't see much of a price difference between the two, though I am sure it will mean something in terms of gas consumption.

I am looking for a suggestion on the kind of car to drive in November. We will be driving in from San Francisco.

Montreal, Canada
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10. Re: Family Trip Report Part 2: Grand Canyon South Rim

I know we rented a standard size car with a trunk. It was a bit tight - we had to put a few items on the floor at kids feet but no big deal at all.

An SUV would have room. I am not sure what your itenerary is but we wanted a trunk so that our main luggage would not be in plain view as there were times during the trip where we had checked out of a hotel in Point A and then stopped for a hike on route to Point B and did not want all the bags in view.

have a great time!