Grand Canyon North Rim to the Columbia River Crossing
After an amazing day exploring the Grand Canyon North Rim, the drizzle started as we pointed for the exit and began the 5 hour drive to get around to popular Grand Canyon South Rim.
As we drove we could see the clouds and rain as it moved over the valleys.
By the time we hit the Navajo Bridge where we crossed the Columbia River, the skies had cleared. Pulling into the visitor centre we walked out over the pedestrian bridge to see the Columbia River far below us.
As we drove along from the north to the south rim, the landscape was bathed in the colours of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon South Rim First View
Once we made it to the popular Grand Canyon South Rim, we were able to pull into several of the panoramic spots along the Desert View Drive and see a totally different view of the Grand Canyon. The Desert View Watchtower looked out over the South Rim. Where we had seen steep, sharp cliffs and narrow canyons on the North Rim, we now found broad and wide canyon vistas.
Road trip panic set in when we realized we were running on gas fumes so we cut short our sunset stops. Running on blind faith that there would be a gas stop somewhere by the park entrance, we rolled into the gas pumps in Grand Canyon Village and let out a sigh of relief.
We had decided to stay in the Grand Canyon Village at The Grand Hotel for a night so that we could spend more time exploring the South Rim in the morning. It was a good place to take a break and it gave us easy access back into the park early in the morning. With this 4th park entrance, we were now saving money by buying the annual National Park pass rather than buying single park passes.
The Popular Grand Canyon South Rim Park
Hitting the popular Grand Canyon South Rim park early on an empty stomach was not a great idea. We managed to find a breakfast sandwich by the Visitors Centre but that would not hold us for long. In mid-October the parking lots were not full and we easily found a spot in Lot 1 that gave us access to both the Visitors Centre and the walking path along the rim.
We headed off to Mather Point and got our first full view of the South Rim. The sky was mostly cloudy for our walk along the rim so we did not get the full deep colour experience that you see in pictures of the Grand Canyon. Much of the canyon was in shadow and the lighted parts showed the shadows of the light clouds floating by.
As we walked we found more sunshine, better views and could see the rainbow of colours that make the Grand Canyon so captivating.
Hitting the Yavapai Point and Geology Museum we spent a little time to learn about the geology and different layers of rock on the North and South rims.
From the museum we grabbed the shuttle back to the Visitors Centre. At this time of year the shuttles were still running on all routes in the popular Grand Canyon South Rim. We debated taking a shuttle to a different part of the canyon but by now hunger was going to win out. Having been awed by the Grand Canyon North Rim surprise, we were less impressed with this view of the Grand Canyon and were ready to move on and continue our trip towards the west coast. We thought this was our last national park on this park tour, but little did we know what we had one more park to visit.
On our way out of Grand Canyon Village, we passed the helicopter tour shop. It was sad to think that this may be as close as many tourists get to see the majesty of the Grand Canyon.
As we drove west towards our 2 day break in Las Vegas, we passed by the exit that would take you to the Skywalk glass observation floor at Grand Canyon West in the Hualapai Indian Reservation. We were tempted to see the view from this popular tourist destination but figured nothing would match the two days of Grand Canyon views we had already seen.
If you decide to visit the Grand Canyon, make sure you take the time to go all the way to the south and north rims within Grand Canyon National Park. While a quick peek of the popular Grand Canyon South Rim may satisfy your interest, it is worth it to take the time and really enjoy this awesome geological wonder.
When you visited the Grand Canyon, did you go to the popular Grand Canyon South Rim? Did you get all the way to the park? Did you explore the many different parts of the South Rim and if so, what was your favourite?