Grand Canyon 2013

Location: northern Arizona
Dates: December 7-10, 2013

View from the South Rim with Mather Point at left

I visited Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona for my second time in December 2013 (I was first there in January 2011). My main goal of this trip was to backpack down to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch while spending another day hiking from Phantom Ranch before returning to the South Rim. You can see more about the backpacking portion of the trip here:

I arrived in the park late in the afternoon of December 7 just as a snow storm entered the park. As I drove from the entrance station to the Bright Angel Lodge there were nearly whiteout conditions, and the roads quickly became slick. I pulled into the lodge's parking lot, checked in, and got settled in my room (I chose the cheapest option with a shared bathroom, which were nicer than I had expected although still quite minimal). During a break in the snow, I stepped outside to check out the canyon, which was nearly completely invisible except for the cliffs directly below me. I then went to the lodge's bar to watch some football and get dinner and drinks before going to bed.

View from the Bright Angel Lodge on December 7
Thew view from the same spot as above on December 8

The following morning the skies were completely clear and remained so for the rest of my visit. I then began my three day backpack, and when I returned to the South Rim on the 10th the weather was basically the same - cold but sunny. After I had lunch on my last day, I drove east all the way along Desert View Drive while stopping at overlooks. But first I stopped at Mather Point, which is the primary overlook next to the visitor center where most people stop. The views from Mather Point are just spectacular, but I fairly quickly moved on to avoid the crowds.

As I drove I stopped at Grandview and Moran points, among other pull off places before going to the Tusayan Museum and ruins, which is an 800-year old pueblo. My last few stops were and Lipan and Navajo points before I reached the Desert View watchtower. The watchtower is a 70-foot tall tower on the canyon's rim built in 1904 that is the easternmost stop along the South Rim in the park. You can walk to the top of the tower when it's open, but there are similarly fantastic views from the tower's base if it happens to be closed.

View east-northeast from below the watchtower

Desert View Watchtower
© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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