When there is a mention of America, New York immediately comes to mind. Of course, an American dream starts with the country jungle where dreams are made of, right? Just like everyone else’s picture of America is influenced by Hollywood, so was mine. Growing up, I picture America with big cities, towering buildings, neon lights, yellow cabs, and NBA. I imagine every houses in America has an apple tree in their backyard! I always thought that Alaska is all a huge chunk of ice. Don’t even start with Hawaii. My Lolo (grandfather) used to wear this shirt with a Waikiki Beach printed on and I thought ha, Waikiki must be my Lolo’s favorite paradise!

Then I grew up and learned things.

America is rich in agriculture, and no darling, America has more than New York. Also, welcome to sub-urban living where the housing and garden standards are controlled, therefore apples are bought at farmer stands or more conveniently at Safeway. Only about 5% of Alaska is covered by permanent ice, and my Lolo has never been to Hawaii.

I suppose I messed up some ideas in my head. Some, but there is at least one thing I got right – The Grand Canyon.

I don’t particularly remember how but I just somehow learned about the Grand Canyon. That it is massive, beautiful, tourist-famous, an American pride and as the name suggests, grand. But how grand can the Grand Canyon be?

Today, on my birthday, I got to find out.

After a huge breakfast at Flagstaff and some cuddles with my cat, Sakura Rain, who has been travelling with us for almost a month, we headed off to Grand Canyon. It is one of the busiest park we have been to even if it was winter. Even the Grand Canyon Visitor Center was packed.  
After a huge breakfast at Flagstaff and some cuddles with my cat, Sakura Rain, who has been travelling with us for almost a month, we headed off to Grand Canyon National Park. It is one of the busiest park we have been to even in winter. The Grand Canyon Visitor Center alone was packed.

 

Apparently, Grand Canyon IS grand in the truest sense of the word. Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is perhaps one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. Earlier this year, National Geographic ranked the Grand Canyon as the second most visited national park in the United States with 5.9 million visitors, following the Great Smoky Mountain with 11 million visitors. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon has 277 river miles (446km) in length, its widest point stretches 18 miles (29 kilometres) across, its narrowest point stretches 4 miles (6.4 kilometres) across, and the canyon is around 6000 feet (1800 metres/1.6 km) deep. The name itself commands a sense of importance and a necessity to see its grandeur.

Grand Canyon is separated into South (Arizona) and North (Utah) Rims. It is the Colorado River that has been carving this masterpiece for million or billion years (the rock found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (schist) is around 2 billion years old, and the rock found on the upper rim (limestone) is around 230 million years old), creating the natural barrier, thereby dividing the park into two. The average distance across the canyon is only 10 miles/ 16 km but it takes a five-hour drive of 220 miles/ 354 km between the park’s South Rim Village and the North Rim Village. We chose the South Rim because the North Rim is closed during winter and we also thought that because it is winter, we timed it right for a lesser crowd. However, when we arrived at the Visitor Center, we were wrong. This national park is packed, even when it was freezing!

The parks’ viewpoints are mostly accessible by car. Some of the most popular ones include Mather Point, Lipan Point and Desert View Watchtower.

 

MATHER POINT

The Mather Point Lookout is the closest to the entrance station of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is only a short walk from the park's Visitor Center.
The Mather Point Lookout is the closest to the entrance station of the Grand Canyon National Park. It is only a short walk from the park’s Visitor Center.
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View of the Grand Canyon from Mather Point Lookout.
The Grand Canyon as viewed from Mather Point.
The Grand Canyon as viewed from Mather Point.
The Grand Canyon as viewed from Mather Point.
The Grand Canyon as viewed from Mather Point.

DUCK ON A ROCK

An unmarked pullout on the South Rim drive is called the Duck-on-a-Rock. It offers a beautiful view looking northwest across the Grand Canyon. 
An unmarked pullout on the South Rim drive is called the Duck-on-a-Rock. It offers a beautiful view looking northwest across the Grand Canyon.
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The Duck on the Rock at Grand Canyon (South Rim), Arizona.
Looking out the Grand Canyon from the Duck on the Rock viewpoint.
Looking out the Grand Canyon from the Duck on the Rock viewpoint.

GRANDVIEW POINT

The Grandview Point is the southernmost lookout point at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Grandview Point sits on an elevation of about 7,400 feet thereby getting a bit more rainfall than other overlook points which explains why it has a more dense forest of pine and oak trees than the other lookout points.
The Grandview Point is the southernmost lookout point at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Grandview Point sits on an elevation of about 7,400 feet thereby getting a bit more rainfall than other overlook points which explains why it has a more dense forest of pine and oak trees than the other lookout points.
The Grandview Point of the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The Grandview Point of the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The Grandview Point of the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The Grandview Point of the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

LIPAN POINT

The Lipan Point of the Grand Canyon is my favorite lookout because of the unobstructed panorama view it offers. It is also less crowded lookout point.
The Lipan Point of the Grand Canyon is my favorite lookout because of the unobstructed panorama view it offers. It is also less crowded lookout point.
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The Lipan Point of the Southern Rim of Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Enjoying my birthday at the Lipan Point of the Southern Rim of Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Enjoying my birthday at the Lipan Point of the Southern Rim of Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Unobstructed panorama view of the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point.
Unobstructed panorama view of the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point.

DESERT WATCHTOWER/VIEWPOINT

The Desert View Watchtower of the Grand Canyon, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot-high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States. The tower serves as a visitor center, bookstore, the trading post and snack bar, the general store, a service station, restrooms, and seasonal campground (open April 16 through mid-October). 
The Desert View Watchtower of the Grand Canyon, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot-high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, United States. The tower serves as a visitor center, bookstore, the trading post and snack bar, the general store, a service station, restrooms, and seasonal campground (open April 16 through mid-October).
The Desert View at Grand Canyon National Park offers the first glimpse of the Grand Canyon for visitors arriving from the east. You can see the Colorado River bend from this lookout point. In 1956, Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the Grand Canyon.
The Desert View at Grand Canyon National Park offers the first glimpse of the Grand Canyon for visitors arriving from the east. You can see the Colorado River bend from this lookout point. In 1956, Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the Grand Canyon.
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The Desert View at Grand Canyon National Park offers the first glimpse of the Grand Canyon for visitors arriving from the east. You can see the Colorado River bend from this lookout point.
The Desert View Point at Grand Canyon is a favorite spot for photographers especially during sunset.
The Desert View Point at Grand Canyon is a favorite spot for photographers especially during sunset.
View of Colorado River from the Desert View Lookout in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
View of Colorado River from the Desert View Lookout in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
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View of Colorado River from the Desert View Lookout in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
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A closer look of the Colorado River as viewed from the Desert Viewpoint in Grand Canyon, Arizona.
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Looking out to the painted desert of Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Colorado River bend is visible from the Desert View point.
Looking out to the painted desert of Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Colorado River bend is visible from the Desert View point.
Looking out to the painted desert of Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Colorado River bend is visible from the Desert View point.

 

John Wesley Powell led the first expedition down the Grand Canyon in 1869. He was the first to use the name “Grand Canyon” after it had previously been known as the “Big Canyon” or “Great Canyon”. In 1919, the Grand Canyon became a national park and it was the 17th national park to be established in the United States.

Grand Canyon National Park is not my favorite having just recently visited The Mighty Five of Utah. However, during our visit to the Grand Canyon, I couldn’t be any prouder to be American and to be living in this country blessed with the bounty of nature and breathtaking land formations. This country is magnificent. I messed up some ideas in my head growing up, but I sure got one thing right. Grand Canyon lives up to its name. It is grand in the truest sense of the word.

Best birthday, ever!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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