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.
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.
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.
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 shuttle....no 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.
The next morning we had breakfast and packed up to leave. We really enjoyed our time here in the national forest.