Now, this is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Everyone told me to be prepared to be impressed. We had seen the most unbelievable scenery on the drive down from Wyoming. The mountain ranges between Utah and Arizona, the Vermillion Mountains, must be the one place on earth where you can see further than anywhere else on the planet.
The first thing you notice about entering the Grand Canyon National Park as you drive from nationally protected wilderness, is that it’s actually quite manicured. Not nearly as wild as the hours of driving through magnificent scenery you’ve just done to get there. Decent roads, proper verges and occasional tantalizing glimpses of the canyon itself. As ever, the distances are something you are unprepared for. From the west entrance to the park you still have 25 miles to drive to get to the main ‘village’ area where the hotels are located.
There are essentially no words that you can use to describe the course the Colorado river has taken over some 6 to 20 million years as it carved its path into the canyon. Regrettably the central area where you stay is quite commercialized, but I guess this is to be expected as it is one of the premier tourist destinations in the US. We saw the Canyon the only way that I think you can really appreciate it – by helicopter. Jaw-dropping scenery and stunning sunsets. You need to go and take a look for yourself just once!
The hotel experience is not great. There is really only one decent hotel, sort of 50s style, but it does have a good bar and a quite decent restaurant. The adjoining accommodation is more like up-market hostel living – clean rooms, ensuite bathrooms, but nothing to write home about. We made the mistake of leaving unwrapped food in the room which wasn’t a great move. A rat rummaging through your suitcase at two in the morning is not the most welcome of room mates.
If this isn’t on the list of places you need to visit before you die, then it certainly should be.