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Tips for a Grand Canyon vacation

Updated on June 19, 2013

Rim Trail

The Grand Canyon National Park gets very crowded in the Summertime. Families are on holiday because kids are usually out of school then. The lodges & the campground fill up quickly on most days. Please make sure to call ahead to make reservation 928-638-2631

For the casual walker who wants to see spectacular views of the park without strenuous climbing, there is the Rim Trail, which extends from Pipe Creek Vista in the east to Hermits Rest on the west. Water is not available along the western portion of the trail and there are 2 rest areas/toilets, the first at Hopi Point, the second at Hermits Rest Gift Shop. The Green shuttle route goes to Yaki Point. There are toilets at Yaki Point and also at the South Kaibab Trailhead stop.

The free shuttle buses do not go down the Hermit's Rest Road toward the western part of the South Rim, from Nov.-March. The only way to see this area at that time is to drive your own car or walk. (not sure if the new mule rides will continue to the Abyss during the Winter months)

New mule ride added.

A new mule ride has started operating at Grand Canyon National Park. The Abyss Overlook Mule Ride provides an option for those looking for an experience with the mules but are a little anxious about the idea of riding a mule down the Canyon trails.

This ride brings a unique experience for anyone that's looking to add to their visit to the National Park. The trip starts at the Mule Barn in Grand Canyon Village. After a safety talk by the guides and an introduction to each person's mule, the mule train makes their way by the railway tracks towards the hermit road interchange. Riders then parallel the road for a short time, continue onto a trail into the surrounding forest, along a service roads, back onto a trail with a single switchback to a clearing where the mules are secured and the guests dismount. Portable toilets are available for use and snacks and water is offered as everyone stretches their legs and works their way to the Overlook.

The midpoint of the trip is just short of the Abyss. The clearing is just out of sight of Hermit Road. Riders walk a very short distance along an access road, across Hermit Road, and to the Abyss Overlook. The Abyss is know for its view of the river, framing of the Canyon walls, incredible scenic presentations...and the 3,000 foot drop to form a deep groove into the Canyon wall.

(actually a friend & fellow employee, Christian, took his first abyss mule ride this month~and wrote this section)

Heart of the Canyon

The Heart of the Canyon is an interesting mystery. Located near the patio of El Tovar adjacent to the Lounge, the Heart is valentine shaped rock embedded in the rim trail wall. When you see it, you face west toward Lookout Studio. It is surprisingly easy to miss, as most travelers on the Rim Trail do not pay much attention to the wall with such great views of the Canyon along the way.

Though there might be many reasons for the placement and shape of the rock, I have been told a story that would be great to tell if you take yours to see the Heart. I have not been able to confirm the story yet and many parts seem to have artistic license taken to them for the sake of romanticism, but with stories like this, the facts are not as important as the message and emotions provoked.

During the construction of the Rim Trail Wall, one of its builders met and fell for a Harvey Girl working at El Tovar. This Harvey Girl very much cared for him as well, however, she was being pursued by another more powerful and wealthy gentleman. When the gentleman learned of the relationship between the other man and the Harvey Girl, he threatened the Harvey Girl to end the romance or he would, one way or another. Not wanting anything to happen to the builder, she told him that while she was working as a Harvey Girl, a position that must be held for at least a year, she could not see him until her contract was over. Heartbroken but still desperately in love, he incorporated a heart shaped rock into the wall facing El Tovar, so whenever she looked outside at work she would see he still loved her.

Heart of the Canyon

Heart of the Canyon
Heart of the Canyon
Grand Canyon Limousine~on Bright Angel Trail
Grand Canyon Limousine~on Bright Angel Trail
Any ranger will tell you, that the squirrel is the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon National Park
Any ranger will tell you, that the squirrel is the most dangerous animal in the Grand Canyon National Park

Essentials to have with you around the park

 1. Backpack~to carry all your souvenirs in & the other stuff on this list

 2. Sunscreen~wear it at any time of the year

 3. WATER~surprising how often people forget this (including me). Dehydration can spoil a vacation here very quickly.

 4. Sunglasses & Brimmed hat~The sun is HOT & the glare is blinding

 5. Salty snacks~As you walk around the rim (or especially hike down into canyon) you will   perspire like never before. You N_E_E_D the added salt. So I like to carry pretzels, nuts & corn chips when I'm hiking...or maybe I just use hiking as an excuse to eat the junkfood.

 6. Camera~This is my favorite thing to carry around with me. Its the first thing I remember to grab when I head out.

Dining out

If you're like most people, then you will get hungry during all your sight-seeing.

We have 2 cafeterias: Maswik & Yavapai~Yavapai closes during the Winter season with just brief openings for Thanksgiving & Christmas. There is no bar at Yavapai but they do have a good salad bar & fried chicken. Even during the year when they are open Yavapai is the first eatery to close every night. Maswik has a sports bar/lounge so you can relax and watch your favorite sports or news show or play a game of pool.

There are a few sit-down restaurants located close to the rim: El Tovar is the most expensive and you will need reservations for dinner. Personally I have only eaten breakfast there. Bright Angel has a few places to eat...The Arizona Room (if you like steak, go here). The dining room at Bright Angel has GOOD food (in my opinion) and not as expensive as El Tovar. There is also a coffeehouse located inside Bright Angel thats open in the mornings & a ice cream fountain thats only open during the Summer season.


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