If you’re going to visit the National Parks of the Colorado Plateau and want to enjoy it, get up and get going early; otherwise, expect crowds and heat.
From the bar & grill near our campground, it’s an easy half-mile walk to the canyon’s rim, from which the Rim Trail continues east for about 4 miles to the South Kaibab trailhead and shuttle stop. [South Kaibab and Bright Angel are the two trails that lead to the foot-bridges over the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.]
About a half-mile from where we joined the Rim Trail, we stopped to admire the Golden Hour of sunrise from appropriately-name Grandeur Point. There’s an interpretive placard on the trail here that discusses the geology of the plateau that you see in the photo, below.
The placard explains that the 350-foot thick surface layer is the Kaibab Formation, composed of the sedimentary rocks limestone, dolomite, sandstone, and chert. It was formed 270 million years ago under a shallow inland sea. “Kaibab,” by the way, is the Southern Paiute Indian word for “mountain laying down.” Makes you want to learn Paiute, doesn’t it?
The whitish band below the Kaibab Formation is a layer of Cocomino Sandstone, 275 million years old, and the sloping, orangish layer below that is the Hermit Formation, age 280 million years. I could keep going, but you get the idea.
At bedrock are the Vishnu Basement Rocks which approach 2 billion years old. Yes, billion, with a “B.” Vishnu, by the way, is the Hindu god responsible for the protection and preservation of the universe whose role is to return to the earth in troubled times and restore the balance of good and evil; in other words, Vishnu is the rock upon which the foundation of the universe is laid. Apropos.
Near Yavapai Point by the Geology Museum (which sits right on the edge of the canyon rim) was another set of interpretive placards. I’ll let them speak for themselves:
So, yes, the Grand Canyon was formed because a river runs through it. The Colorado River cuts ever deeper, letting the canyon walls collapse into its stream to be carried away to the Gulf of California, some 400 miles downstream. And so it has been for millions of years. Rock, paper, scissors, river. River cuts through them all.
Here’s the view from Yavapai Point:
Around the Point, we found the trained squirrels. Well, they’re supposed to be wild, but it seems most tourists either ignore or can’t read the signs that say “Don’t Feed the Animals” (I’m going with “can’t read” since 90% of the tourists here are Asian or European). Accordingly, the squirrels and ravens on the rim are magnificent panhandlers. “Gimme, gimme, gimme. Pleeeeeeeeease.”
At Mather Point, we turned “inland” for a stop at the South Rim Visitor’s Center to watch the Park Service’s movies explaining the history and geology of Grand Canyon. Very interesting. One of the things we learned is that this year is Grand Canyon National Park’s 100th Anniversary!
Here’s the view from the rim, just beyond Mather Point; it seems to be getting drier. Is that possible?
We continued to the South Kaibab trailhead where we caught the shuttle bus back “home,” then separated for the afternoon, meeting up later in the day to drive to the Desert View Watchtower (built 1932) at the far eastern end of the Desert View Scenic Drive:
One of the events being held in conjunction with the Park’s 100th anniversary is the “Grand Canyon Celebration of Art,” where each day several artists paint plein air along the Rim Trail. We had seen two such artists during our hike earlier in the day and there were two more at Desert View. We stopped to watch one of them, Amery Bohling, an oil painter from Scottsdale, Arizona:
Like Amery, most of the plein air artists paint in oils. I suspect that water-color and acrylic dry too fast in this climate for plein air painting. At any rate, we liked Amery’s painting so much that we bought it! Fresh out of the oven!
We walked back to the overlook while Amery kept painting (she delivered the finished painting to us later), then realized that it was getting close to sunset….
So we piled back into the Gern’s car and made our way back to Yavapai Point as quickly as we could, stopping briefly at an overlook to make sure we still had time to make it to Yavapai before sundown.
Golden Hour sunset over the Grand Canyon. Simply beautiful.
After sundown, we returned to the bar & grill for a “farewell dinner.” Jim and Von will be heading to Boulder, Colorado, in the morning to visit their son and daughter-in-law, Tyson and Kristina, and we’ll be heading to Phoenix, Arizona, to visit ours, Trevor and Alicia.
It’s been great to spend time in such wonderful places with such great friends.