The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Harley takes his role as navigator seriously!

South Rim of the Grand Canyon...The Long Way Around

In my last post, we left the RV park near Zion and headed out. Our original plan was to stay near Jacobs Lake and go up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Due to the Magnum Fire, the North Rim was closed, the area was evacuated, and Hwy 89A was also closed so we headed back around Hwy 89 towards Page AZ. You could easily see the fire as we headed down towards Kanab.

We stopped to pick up take out in Flagstaff and headed out again. Since it was definitely going to be dark by the time we got near the South Rim, we pulled out iOverlander and found a national forest where we could camp just a couple of miles outside of Flagstaff. There were quite a few people near the road end but we decided to just take a spot there instead of looking further into the forest since we would be leaving first thing in the morning. It worked out fine, not real pretty but definitely okay for the night.

The next morning, we reached our destination. iOverlander gave us info about camping in the national forest just outside the South Rim on Jim Long Road. It was an absolutely great spot.

There were other people but very well spaced out, some tents, some trailers, some motorhomes. Steve went ahead of me in the truck and found a nice pull-through area with shade and privacy.

There were a couple fire circles one of which was filled in but no matter as there was definitely a burn ban on for the entire area. We got set, turned on the fantastic fan and opened a couple of windows for Harley and Angus before we
 headed into the park.

First we went to one of the main parking lots near the Visitor's Center. we checked out the information posters with info about the park and hiking.

The Visitor's Center was closed up tight but the gift shop was open. Didn't see any rangers around to answer questions. One poster mentioned some star gazing with a ranger that was going to be done online but the WiFi near the Visitor's Center didn't appear to work.

We headed out behind the Visitor's Center to Mather Point for the first view of the canyon for the rest of the family. I was there once before but once is never enough.  We saw and smelled a lot of smoke as we drove the day before but the wind kept it away from the canyon.

 Yes, they were impressed at the size of things.

There was really nothing else going on near the Visitor's Center other than the gift shop and bicycle rental so we decided to spend the afternoon checking out the east side of the park. We drove as far as we could go which was the last pull off before you get to the tower. It was a shame because the view from the tower area is magnificent even if you can't go up in the tower. You can see the tower below.

We drove to the end first since all the views and pull-offs are on the right side as you come back. Makes it easier to pull off that way.

We hit every stop and the view was always a little different.

 Artist Thomas Moran accompanied John Wesley Powell on his geographic trip to survey the Grand Canyon in 1873. He was very impressed and did numerous sketches and field water colors which he later used to do wonderful paintings back in his studio. He was a premier American painter who inspired western tourism and convinced Congress to establish western national parks. His paintings brought the Grand Canyon to life in an era of black and white photos.

You can see the river far below.

This town was there before the national park. It started out with mining and gradually turned into a place to see the canyon when the mining didn't work out. There was a hotel but it must have been challenging to get to Grandview.

 They went partway down the path.

After we did as much as we could on the east side, we took a drive through the campgrounds. There are two: one with full hookups and one with no hookups. The full hookup campground was about 1/3 full. It was so quiet that this female elk was comfortable right up next to the RVs. The woman in the camper was taking a picture out the window. The campground without hookups had three campers in it. Keep in mind that we were camping quite comfortably without any hookups right by the park. It was really kind of sad to see it. We saw a young ranger and Steve stopped to ask him why there were so very few campers. He said that they only let in those that already had a reservation. Keep in mind that many reservations were cancelled if they started before the park finally opened. The grocery store was open.

As we drove through the park, we saw quite a few female and young elks but no males.

We headed back to the RV for a relaxing dinner and evening. The next morning, I drove the kids and grandkids to Bright Angel Trail where they wanted to hike. I decided to check out the west side of the park while they were hiking so I would know where to take them.  This is the area where they keep the mules that make the trek down into the canyon.

This is one of the lodges. All of the museums were closed but there were people staying in the lodges and cabins. This part of the park was the most busy part!

It was very disappointing to find that the entire west side of the park was closed. During March through October, you have to take a cars allowed.  During the rest of the year, you can drive this part. Very hard to understand why you couldn't drive it now since there were so few visitors at the park. I did take the kids down there later on so they could walk part of the rim as it is different here and the path runs right along the rim.

Most of the following pictures were taken by Steve or Helen on their hike. Normally you would take the shuttle into the area where the hike starts. The shuttles aren't running but they won't let you drive in there anyway. It was blocked off so they had to walk in.

There is actually a trail right behind the "intrepid" hikers.

You can see the trail here.

Look at all the switchbacks! It really wraps around.

Some parts of the path are engineered.

They ran into a mule pack train bringing things up from the bottom of the canyon. This was on a visitors ride but a working group.

The mules always have the right of way so the hikers move to the side.

Morgan made it about halfway and decided to wait until the hikers came back.

That really is the trail they were hiking.

 Fun times with their Dad.

See the little window opening through the rock in the upper left third of the picture? A fitting end to their hike. I came back to pick them up and found a spot open in the viewing area about a half mile from the road entrance where I dropped them off. I got there early but I was afraid to leave because there were cars parked all along the road on both sides as well as completely filling up the little picnic area across the road. A ranger was now stationed at the entrance to the road making sure no one stopped there or tried to drive in. Anyway, they were all tired but had a great time. I took them through the rest of the park up to the road west that was blocked. We managed to find a parking spot so they could at least walk along the rim a little ways before we headed back to the RV to relax and fix dinner.

 After dinner, we decided to head the mile into Tusayon to get some ice cream. The only choice appeared to bedrive through at McDonalds. As we pulled into their parking lot, we saw our first male elk.
 There were actually three of them with huge racks laying or standing around in the empty lot between a hotel and McDonalds.

 They were very unconcerned about the people taking their photos and people were smart enough not to go charging right up to them. They ambled right over through the McDonalds parking lot, around the back, and through an opening into someone's back yard. It was amazing.

The next morning we had breakfast and packed up to leave. We really enjoyed our time here in the national forest.
 Guess who we saw right before we turned off the forest road onto the highway???? Looks like the boys from last night. We stopped for photos and they took their time ambling across towards the national park.

Angus may have thought they were some sort of big strange dogs but he was very interested in checking them out.
Our last view as they ambled off towards the park. It must have been a big boys night out!