(This post is part 3/6- make sure to read the others. While you’re reading, click anything blue and you will see I attached links and additional images for more information!)
*All times included time spent taking pictures/enjoying the views.
* We visited in the middle of June
After what seemed like forever in the RV (12.5 hours) we made it to the Grand Canyon from Sequoia National Park. We originally had 2 days planned here, but after talking to some new friends at Yosemite, they said to pack everything into 1 day and explore other areas of Arizona- we ended up rerouting our trip include Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Prior to arriving at the Grand Canyon entrance, we stopped at a visitor center outside the park.
We then made our way into the park and to Mather Campground. At Mather Campground we paid $18 a night, no hook up but very close to everything. The campsites are very large and have a picnic bench as well as a fire pit. There is a laundry facility by the entrance to the campground. The Grand Canyon village is also very tourist friendly and includes things like: a general store, restaurant, post office, chase bank, clinic, a chapel, and multiple visitor centers. Be on the lookout for elk, they won’t bother you but remember to keep your distance (2 bus lengths).
Day 1- Thursday
Our first planned hike was Ooh Aah point but after talking to one of the rangers he said it was not recommended to hike into the canyon between the hours of 10am- 4pm. At that point, we took the free shuttle to the visitor center in order to get to the Rim Trail.
Distance- As long or as short as you would like- we hiked a mile and then turned around for a total of 2 miles
Time- As long or as short as you would like- 2 hours
The Rim Trail allows for views alongside the rim of the Grand Canyon (where it gets its name). There are many lookout points you can walk down into and almost the entire tail is paved. You may think you have seen it all but there are so many different views from one point to another, take your time and enjoy this hike. It can get very crowded during the day.
From the Rim Trail we got in our RV and headed to our first lookout, Yavapai Lookout.
Distance- .2 miles from the parking lot
Time- As long or as short as you would like
Attached to this lookout is the Geology Museum and we recommend you check it out, we found it had the best views. Take your time walking around/reading about the history of the canyon. Look for helicopters inside the canyon, let us know if you saw any!
From that lookout point we traveled to Pipe Creek Vista.
Pipe Creek Vista–
Distance- Right alongside the road/parking lot
Time- As long or as short as you would like (stay in 1 spot to view)
Pipe Creek Vista, along with the other lookout points has great views, it is interesting to see the canyon from another viewpoint.
Finally, around 4:30 we got ready and hopped on the shuttle to complete the Ooh Aah Point trail.
Ooh Aah Trail–
Distance- 2 miles (total out and back)
Time- 1 hour and 30 minutes
This hike was amazing but difficult! The entire way to the Ooh Aah point is a downhill zigzag which means the entire way out is an uphill zigzag… Greg and I had to take many rests periods along the way back. For reference, it took us 26 minutes to hike the mile down and 52 minutes to hike the mile up. You do have the option of continuing after Ooh Aah point to 2 other lookouts but we knew we were already going to have trouble from this point so we turned around.
After this hike we went back to the RV for dinner and some rest. Around 9:00pm, Greg mentioned how it would be cool to see the canyon at night so we hopped in the RV and headed towards the visitor center to the Rim Trail and guess what… that was literally the best idea! We basically had the canyon to ourselves and were able to see so many stars above because of minimal light pollution. If you can, definitely do this as you will not be disappointed.
At the end of our day we were really happy with what we saw. You can definitely see the Grand Canyon in a day.
OTHER PARK INFORMATION
SHUTTLE SYSTEM- The free shuttle system at the Grand Canyon is great but make sure you know what time the last shuttle is. Here, they run very late compared to the other parks we have visited.
VISITOR CENTER- Definitely make a stop here. The rangers can provide you with any information or questions you may have. You can buy souvenirs at the gift shop, grab free maps (we lived off of using ours), and get a stamp for your National Park Passport! We added to our National Park patch collection here.
SERVICE- We had limited service here but were able to communicate with our family when we got closer to the village.
FOOD- We packed a lot of snacks for our hikes including trail mix, crackers, etc. Having the RV available after each hike was very convenient for meals as well. There is a restaurant/tavern located nearby in the village that looked very popular.
LAUNDRY- There was a laundry facility but we did not use it- not sure of the price.
WEATHER- It was hot! Hike early or hike later in the day to prevent heat exhaustion. The rangers do not recommend anyone go into the canyon from 10am- 4pm. We found 5pm was a good time to start.
TRAILS- If you are limited on time, plan out your top trails and do them first. You might be surprised that you have extra time in the day that allows for more adventures. As stated before, we believe you can see the Grand Canyon in one day.
FIREWOOD- You are not allowed to gather branches for firewood, it must be purchased. We bought ours from the general store and it did not last long and it put black smoke on our smores.
OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDATION- Go back to the rim trail after dark- it will not disappoint.
OUR NUMBER 1 RECOMMENDED HIKE- Ooh Aah Point!
Day 2- Friday
We woke up early and headed towards Page, Arizona in preparation of our guided tour through Antelope Canyon (Ken’s Tours). Our tour was at 1:30pm in the lower antelope canyon. The canyon did not disappoint, every time you make a turn you see another amazing view of the sun shining through. I am so happy we were able to add this to our trip.
-We were told the lower canyon has better views (compared to the upper canyon) and the best time to go is between 10am-2pm because the lighting is the best.
– With Ken’s Tours, adult tickets are $50 and I believe children are $30.
– You must check in 30 minutes prior to your tour.
– You need a reservation to complete the tour, as we were waiting there were so many people that came up to buy tickets and were turned away. Plan in advance.
From Antelope Canyon we drove about 15 minutes to Horseshoe Bend which was another great adventure. In order to get to the rim/overlook you have to walk about a half mile (some uphill/some downhill) but the views are totally worth it! Look down to see boats and how small they are compared to everything; it puts it into perspective.
– $10 to park