For me, the Grand Canyon is overwhelming in the sense that it is difficult to appreciate its beauty and enormity without spending significant time in and around it. The average visitor stops at Grand Canyon National Park for a scant two hours. Ayo thinks that the Canyon is beautiful, but that it’s not an easy win over some of the other spectacular sights we’ve seen – particularly the Mogollon Rim views. (Perhaps it’s that we couldn’t camp right on the rim of the Grand Canyon.)
The quality of the rangers at GCNP is for-the-most-part excellent. Grand Canyon is a very competitive park for ranger positions, and the enthusiasm and knowledge of the rangers who are employed here shines thorough.
On the heels of our fantastic experience camping in the park at Joshua Tree, we coughed up the $36(!) to try two nights of camping at Mather Campground. Perhaps it’s because the campground is crowded, or because there are shuttle buses covering most of the populated South Rim, but camping inside GCNP was a dud. Our experience wasn’t bad at all, it was just that we had a better experience camping for free just outside the park on Fire Road 688. Our site there was quiet, huge, and in the same forest with the same animals as Mather Campground. Boondocking totally wins, and the free dump station at Mather can be used by anyone. (It was pretty sweet for us, because I was able to give myself a haircut and take a super-long shower afterwards.)
Later today we’ll be leaving for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which is supposedly much less “citified” than the South Rim, which truly is a city. The South Rim has over 3,000 residents, restaurants, a hotel, wireless internet, a post office, clinic, and a K-12 school. Relative to the South Rim, the North Rim offers much more solitude.
There is a lot more to share on park economics and on a great ranger friend that we made here, but I’ll save that for another time and close with our observation that the park is crawling with foreigners. Supposedly only 17% of park visitors are not from the United States, but in our experience that percentage is much higher.
Wishing you all a wonderful week from the Grand Canyon.
posted by yair