Day 2 – The Grand Canyon and the Antelope Canyons – What can go wrong – part deux.
The next morning we had to be up by 4:30 am in order to catch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. Having already missed the cheat option of watching the sunset, we just had to do the sunrise. Surprisingly, we managed to wake up, drive down to the canyon and walk up the South Rim trail well in time for sunrise. After logistical confusion killed the idea of camping on the Desert View campground, we booked ourselves into the Grand Canyon Inn, a comparatively inexpensive motel a 20 minute drive away from the South Rim. The room we got had comfortable beds and a clean bathroom. They also have free wi-fi.
As much as we would have loved to explore the less touristy North Rim, our tightly packed schedule allowed us very limited time at the canyon, so we settled on the more popular South Rim. We did a small portion of the Rim trail. On our way to the canyon, we saw signs that warned of natural fires ahead. We assumed the lightening storm last night had started forest fires. Later someone we met at the end of the trail told us that the authorities were carrying our control burns. We got on on the trail right behind the El-Tovar hotel. When we started walking, we were only people on the trail, and the first people to reach the end. The walk is quite easy, but if you don’t want to do it there is a fantastic view point right at the beginning.
I had heard and read from several sources that the sight of the first rays of the sun hitting the red rocks of the canyon was magical. That glorious glow of redness as the darkness suddenly lifts, has been described as mystical. Grand as the Grand Canyon looked that early morning, the smoke and the looming thunderstorm ruined the sunrise experience for us.
The dining room of the EL Tovar is a great place to grab breakfast after doing the trail.
If you ask me to describe the Grand Canyon,I would say it looks like a number of magnificent temples dedicated to the great Gods of the old. Over millions of years wind and water have carved the mountain face to create beauty fit for worship.
After breakfast we started the next leg of our trip. We were going to Page, to photograph the Antelope Canyons and catch the sunset at the Horseshoe Bend. On the way we stopped by at the Desert View point. This is just another vista point for the Grand Canyon. On the Rim Trail, a couple who have done multiple hikes in the Canyon told us that there is a trial that leads to the bottom and there is a waterfall there. Something we would definitely like to do on our next trip here.
The route from the Grand Canyon to Page is very scenic and is dotted with a number of distractions. There is the overlook on Little Colorado, the Cameron trading post, the Echo Cliffs, the painted desert and the Vermilion Cliffs. On the way there is a little side road (US89A) in Bitter Springs that takes you to the Navajo Bridges,Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry. On the way to Lees ferry are some remarkable rocks like the Mushroom rock and Balanced Rock. This information has been gleaned from Trip Adviser and we really didn’t have time for most of it. We did stop though, at one of the Navajo (pronounced Naa-va-Ho) stalls and picked up some pretty jewelry. If you plan to include the Vermilion Cliffs in your itinerary, there is a parking lot with Navajo stalls that has great views of Vermilion Cliffs. This information is again from Trip Adviser.
We knew we would be cutting it too close for our reservations on the Upper Antelope Canyon Tour so we called the tour operator and had them shift it to the next morning, so we would do just the Lower Canyon and the Horseshoe Bend today. As we got into Page, the hot summer sun was sudden blocked out by ominous dark clouds. Just our luck!! By the time got to the Lower Canyon tour office, the rain had stopped, but the damage had been done. Both the Upper and Lower Canyons are prone to flash floods and once it rains they are closed for the day.
Since there were a couple of hours left before sunset, we decided to take a boat ride on Lake Powell. It is a pleasant way to pass time. I thought the boat would go all the way to the Navajo bridges, but they only take you as far as the Lower Canyon. Do it by all means if you have some time and money to spare, or have just been having a rough time like us.
From the Antelope Point Marina we drove down to the Horseshoe Bend well in time for the sunset.