Monday, March 16, 2009

Enjoying the South Rim Trail, Grand Canyon, Arizona

It ended up being a nicer day weather-wise than we anticipated, so we took one of the free shuttles to the Yavapai Observation Station and walked the rim westbound, enjoying the expansive views, various lookouts, and a ranger program.

Yavapai Observation Station is 1 ¾ miles east of the Village, and has exhibits focusing on the geology of the Grand Canyon, including three-dimensional displays, photographs, and exhibits. One display in particular that caught our attention was how the canyon was formed. There is a also a bookstore and a variety of Ranger programs offered at various times. You can also see the Kaibab bridge over the Colorado River linking the North Kaibab Trail from the North Rim to the South Kaibab Trail in the South Rim.
After walking about 1 ½ miles enjoy the views from the rim, we came upon the Verkamp’s Visitors Center, which used to be a privately owned store, but is now a NPS visitor station. We stayed and enjoyed a Ranger program called The Human Story, about how people shaped the history of the Grand Canyon, from the pre-historic Puebloan people to the railroad to the current visitor.

The Hopi House (a Mary Colter building) was our next stop where we happened upon Navajo men giving a performance of dancing and chanting, sharing the history of the dances, the traditions of the Navajo, and giving people the opportunity to appreciate the Navajo culture.

As always, we were hungry by this point, so we stopped at Bright Angel Lodge to have lunch at their Restaurant. Both the service and food were good, but not great. We then quickly stopped at Lookout Studios (another Mary Colter building), which was basically a gift shop and bookstore, but were pleasantly surprised by Kolb Studio, once the home of the Kolb Brothers who were the original photographs of people on mules, back in the day. Not only was the home quaint and charming, but the downstairs is a gallery with free art exhibits, and while we were there, it was showing art by the students who attend school at the Grand Canyon School District! We were amazed at the talent ~ from the kindergarteners to the high schoolers.

We then took a short detour just ¼ mile down the Bright Angel Trail to just past the tunnel. Why? Well, at the Ranger program earlier in the day, we were told that there were some pictographs in the rocks just past the tunnel ~ Too cool! So just past the tunnel, about 20 paces, look up and left – there is some very amazing art.

The Rim Trail is paved and accessible – even if you do not have the time or the inclination to walk many miles, just getting out and enjoying some of the views is a great experience – a definite “must do” when in the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

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