The Grand Canyon, when you only have 24 hours…
Do you ever want to run away, if even for just a day? When your heart longs to escape the routine of everyday life? Throw it aside, hop in the car and go.. anywhere… just so long as you see a world outside of your own. That feeling burns inside of me and, just a few weeks back, I acted on that fiery urge and drove 8 hours to rest my eyes on a place I have never seen — a place so majestic and grandiose, it is considered one of the seven wonders of the world. I only had a day, but wanted to cram as much as I could into visiting the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon exists courtesy of the Colorado River in the northern region of Arizona — 277 miles long and can be as wide as 18 miles and as deep as one. My feelings so severe the first moment I saw it that I wanted to cry, laugh and get sick all at once. The South Rim yields spectacle unlike anything I have ever seen — dark hues of purple, blue and orange across my periphery and the smell of fresh rain on pine trees. Its texture is boldly distinct at times while, at others, depth becomes nearly extinct. The Grand Canyon plays beautiful and mesmerizing tricks on your eyes, and you will find your mouth remaining slightly ajar in awe. To describe the Grand Canyon in one word is breathtaking, and friends, that does not even scratch the surface.
If you ever find yourself there, or are planning a trip (Do it! Do it!), let this 24-hour guide be of service.
Where to stay: If you can’t find camping (try Mather Campground), stay in Grand Canyon Village, a charming town located in the South Rim. The Village operates as a safe haven for tourists and has been doing so since 1901 when the Santa Fe Railroad — from Williams, AZ to the South Rim — was completed. There are a few great lodging options, but I love Yavapai Lodge — great service, rustic accommodations, and wildlife right outside your door.
Where to eat: If you’re in need of a picnic lunch or just a post-hike frosty beverage, I recommend Yavapai Tavern. Or, just outside of the park is a small town called Tusayan, AZ. Make sure to stop at Sophie’s Mexican Kitchen before or after visiting the park. Two words: too good. And great vegetarian options as well!
Where to hike: In all honesty, guys, there is no bad spot to take in the view or to hike. Every angle, every spot, every scene is perfect. But if you are looking for a moderate to difficult day hike, I suggest Santa Maria Springs off of Hermits Rest Trailhead. The hike is 2.5 miles down the canyon and weaves in and out of massive boulders to scale strategically placed rocks. It is not a hike for beginners — remember to pack a snack and water. And, allow yourself enough time to hike back up.
Where to watch the sunset: Uh, anywhere? But in all seriousness, try Yavapai Point. It boasts an incredible panoramic view that includes the Colorado River and Bright Angel Canyon. The walls will gradually turn burnt orange as the vast sky catches fire. Kick back, relax, enjoy.
Where to catch the sunrise: If there is one thing you do before you leave, it is watch the sun rise over the sleepy canyon walls. Pack a blanket, camera, and hot tea or coffee and head to Mather Point. It may be busy depending on the time of year but, as the sun climbs the sky, I guarantee all other distractions will quickly drop off.
+Have you been to the Grand Canyon? I’d love to hear about your favorite places.
Follow Joanna on Instagram.