The Day 6 Replay: Monument Valley to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
*Waking up in Monument Valley I spent an hour washing and drying one well planned load of laundry while the kids got up and dressed and packed
*Burger King – NOT to eat, but to check out their awesome Navajo Code Talkers Exhibit
*Driving to the Grand Canyon Southern Rim – 3 hours, 23 minutes through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park
*Pit Stop at Cameron Trading Post and Restaurant
*Next Stop: The Grand Canyon South Rim
*Over Looks: Desert View Watchtower, Lipan Point, Moran Point, Navajo Point, Grandview Point
*Checked in to our Hotel – The Red Feather Inn
*Caught the Free Shuttle into the Grand Canyon National Park
*Explored the Visitor’s Center, watched some videos, saw some geological history
*Went out to the Rim train and started walking West
*Walked out to the Yavapai Geology Museum
*Wandered a little farther West along the Rim and found a great place to stop and watch the sun set
*Waited for the free shuttle to take us back to the Visitor’s Center
*Took the Free Shuttle out and got out as Stop 1: hitting a Pizza Hut for dinner
*Walked to our home for the night at the Red Feather Inn
This was quite an outstanding day. The day I planned the entire trip around! Making it our focal point.
DAY 6 we were planning to get to the South Rim of the famous Grand Canyon and many viewpoints leading up to the rim. This was the first Hotel I reserved based on supply and demand, and I worked backwards from here, planning a day in each surrounding location and looking up the best way to spend a day in that area. Had I more budget I could have done way more and stayed longer in each spot. But even moving at the speedy pace we were and focusing on mainly free activities, I was so 100% satisfied, and overjoyed with our travels. I felt blessed and amazed to experience these parts of the country I had never known before and how nice that my kids could play in these parks so far from home.
Waking up I decided to do a load of laundry before we left. Our dirty clothes bag was taking up way too much room in our little car so I felt it was time! While the kids showered and dressed I washed and dried. I do wish they had told me at the front desk I had to buy the detergent there which would have saved me from having to drive back up there later but it worked out fine eventually, and while the clothes were spinning, I was writing and taking in the scenic views.
The Navajo code talker exhibit at the Burger King was practically right across the street from our hotel. We walked in and saw a few shelves and glass case containing items and information, I did not see anyone on site as I had expected so we left and got back in the car. When we were driving around the parking lot to exit, that’s when we saw it :-) around the other side of the building there is a whole Navajo exhibit with a code talker sititng up front. Mostly it seems like people were just walking up and taking pictures with him and there was a whole line of tourists waiting so we went inside and saw some of the relics, looked at some of the history, explored the Hagans there for display, and just soaked up a little more culture. And my daughter bought a shirt!
Once we were packed in and back on the road we were headed toward the Grand Canyon. We drove out through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park. We were seeing trains that are miles and miles long! They seemed to go on forever. There were wild horses running around. I don’t know how they manage to not get hit by any cars because some of them were very close to the street and there are no barriers in that particular area. I was glad again that I was driving in the daylight and not in the dark.
Getting closer to the Grand Canyon we would pass Cameron Trading Post and I had this on my list as somewhere I wanted to stop. It’s really just a big selection of gifts. And many of them overpriced. A nice place to see the river, and stroll – stretch your legs out of the car!. Right past the scenic overlook of the Colorado River. I was planning to get a Navajo taco and wasn’t hungry at the time. I wish I had gotten it for the road or later. I must have dropped my debit card out of my back pocket when I was taking out my phone because when we got ready to leave I realized it wasn’t in my pocket anymore. Fortunately someone had turned it in and it was waiting for me at the customer service desk! That was a real relief. And the second time on this trip that someone being honest saved my ass!! Here’s to the good people in the World. I appreciate you! ❤❤❤
I could tell that the land around me was changing and the next thing I knew I was seeing signs for the Grand Canyon. Arriving was surreal. I was so excited to use my America the beautiful pass again and drive right in. There were not that many cars in line waiting when we pulled up. While we were still in a very wooded area far from any viewpoints, there seem to be a traffic jam with a lot of cars going slowly were stopped. I did not know what this was about and begin to have a little anxiety, I wanted to get moving!!! But as we slowly pulled up I realized what the commotion was. There was a big old moose on the side of the road! At first I thought it was fake. But he was bobbing his antlers up and down surrounded by a bunch of onlookers taking pictures and people within 5 feet of him. I don’t know why they weren’t scared to be so close and admittedly he seemed peaceful, but I thought how odd that everyone is just right there next to him! Still amazing to see a moose on the side of the road. Just a wild guy hanging out by the Grand Canyon :-) GREAT introduction.
Our first viewpoint was the Desert Watch View. The reason this is a perfect pitstop is all of the Hopi artwork inside of the tower. You climb multiple levels and look out different vantage points seeing the terrain all around. We all took some pictures. It was definitely breezier outside than I wish it was but it was also sunny. I knew that we would drive through and look at some viewpoints before going and checking into our hotel and then coming back in to spend some time hiking. My children were getting anxious to go check in and see where we were staying and I was feeling like all I wanted to do was wander the terrain. Sometimes they gang up on me, and sometimes I put my foot down - I got out at most of the view points along the way and at least one child got out with me at each stop but most of them were quick jump out go look jump back in. There was definitely a lot of traffic and tourist buses along with a field trip of middle school age children that seems to be following us. While there was always enough space for us to park it was usually tricky and there was a lot of people walking in parking and driving all around. I felt like I was racing the traffic to the next point. I was still ahead of the worst of the traffic I think!
We made it to the Red Feather Inn and checked in! This is a moment of pure joy. My trip has been realized. Materialized. IT’S WORKED as hoped and planned ⭐🌟⭐🌟⭐🌟
This is definitely one of the nicer places we stayed. Our room was on the first floor not far from the front desk. It was also an expensive stop, however I’m sure they have no problem charging that. This was the first place that I booked and definitely worth the money paid. It did feel like it was a step up, we had all the comforts of home, a refrigerator and microwave, a little extra space, and just a great set up. It is close to the free shuttle, and they provide free tea, hot cocoa and apples in the lobby. So it’s a definite recommendation!
We did not stay very long because we were all ready to get back to the park. We walked down to the shuttle which was not very far, and rode in. I am glad that we did. This gave me the opportunity to not have to drive but to be able to look around and truly enjoy the area. Right behind the sign that says welcome to the Grand Canyon we saw some elk grazing. We saw some more later - initially we were not sure that they were in fact elk, however a park ranger finally confirmed their species for us! We’d never seen them in the wild before. They are out there all over the place, in families and groups.
We spent a little time at the visitor center just exploring and went to see a video of how the Canyon was made. Outside, we walked over the first overlook we came to and took a few pictures on the rock. Here we were encountered by a squirrel who was quite feisty and I’m sure looking for food. He was pretty funny. He was standing on his hind legs and almost begging me for food. Right next to him I noticed the do not feed the squirrels sign. Who knew? 🐿
I had planned to hike along the rim Trail and have dinner at El Tovar. I had read they had some live Hopi dancers and fun cultural activities. I was ready form some good Mexican food!
Rim Hike: When we started off on our walk it was a lot of climbing and exploring, picture taking, amazement and appreciation. We actually turned a few corners and wandered pretty far ending up at the Yavapai Geology Museum. Inside we discovered where we had been at Point Imperial compared to where we were now. Which was almost directly across the canyon. Funny that it took us days to arrive, yet was maybe 14 miles away. They had a lot of good factual hands-on exhibits concerning the rocks and time in history. I was remembering that our coach at the elementary school told us that the earth is only 6000 years old and the Grand Canyon could prove it. He claimed that the rocks tell the story of the flood and that carbon dating is not an exact science but an estimate. And that it is way off. So I was looking at some of what the museum was claiming wondering how they come up with their timeline. They absolutely seem confident in the many million years of creation. We kept walking. There were more elk. They were calling across the pathway to each other and I was videoing them in amazement. At this point my children begin to get on my nerves LOL... So while they sat on the corner wondering when we were eating and what we were doing next I just started walking down the path and left them behind LOL eventually they caught up with me. Apparently there is a trail of time I was on, and I was enjoying the condor overhead, the wild life at home here and this view I had been waiting two years to have.
I had planned to watch the sunset on the rim and I did not want to hear any complaints or requests. It was also getting late and I did not want to take time from the room to go eat. Here’s another point I wish I had done a little differently. We were so close to El Tovar. After the sunset we could have gone down a little further and eat there if it was not too late, I don’t know what time they stop serving. We could have at least walked down a little further to see. But at this point I had kids complaining of headaches and being tired, and not wanting to eat Mexican food so we caught the shuttle back up to the front, and switched to the shuttle that goes into town. I was feeling so happy with the whole world and was accommodating at that point.
I’m not really a fast food eater and we are very limited in the amount of eating out that we do at home. My oldest son was craving Wendy’s again but I still had it in my heart to have Mexican food. There was not a lot of places in the town of Tucson to eat that I could see would be reasonable so we compromised on Pizza Hut. While my oldest walked back to the room, the others and I went in and ordered the food. Then walked it back to our room where we ate. It wasn't Mexican food --- My next decision had to be about the morning. I had hoped to do a sunrise hike down into the canyon but I knew that the shuttle did not leave that early. I also realize it would not be safe to drive in the dark (so much wild life!). My kids were literally exhausted. So I revised my plan considering my own priority to get what I really wanted out of this entire trip. Which was deeper appreciation of the wonders of the world. I announced that if anyone did not want to come they should take the time to sleep in. But that I was leaving at 7 AM to drive in and hike. And that we would be leaving the hotel around 11 to head to California. I had one child who offered to come with me because he said this is the whole reason we came out here and he did not want me to have to go alone :-) instant favorite LOL
Tips: Just go! Get there, and enjoy the beauty of the world we live in! Take advantage of the free shuttle systems. Since it is an area populated with wild life, do not drive in the dark! It is difficult to see some animals and I would not take the chance
Wishes: I had stuck to the El Tovar plan. This time I gave in to kids who didn’t want to eat what I had chosen, but I think that would have been the better choice. Although the Pizza Hut wasn’t bad – we can have that anywhere.
Day 6 Costs:
Burger King – Navajo Code talker’s exhibit (free)
Cameron trading post (free)
Grand Canyon - America the Beautiful Pass
Checked in to red feather inn $277.25
Shuttle to south rim visitors (free)
Watched movie (free)
Hiked Rim Trail (free)
Yavapai Geology Museum (free)
Sunset Spectacular! (free)
Return shuttle (free)
Pizza Hut - $40.00
Sleep – Priceless
Daily Total - $317.25
The Grand Canyon is Beyond Grand. Your eyes will smile with the wonder of this creation.
(Yes we did eat breakfast and Lunch, just ate our cooler food and what we had with us)
Breakfast was oatmeal, bananas, and dried fruit. Lunch was our cold cut sandwich rolls. We had many snacks and drinks.
See Day 7 for more of the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree!