Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, and a touch of Sedona

IMG_0503One of the biggest things on the to-do list when we knew we were going to spend time in Arizona was to visit the Grand Canyon.  This weekend we got to check that one off!

We drove up to Flagstaff on Saturday after Sophie’s karate graduation.  She is now an orange belt karate student!  It was only a little over a two hours, so we got there with a lot of time left in the day.  We ended up just walking around the downtown area that has a lot of cute little shops and restaurants.

Sunday was Grand Canyon day.  It’s about an hour and a half drive from Flagstaff to the South Rim of Grand Canyon, so we didn’t get there until about 10 am.  Like most people, we started our day off at the visitor center to see a short film about how the canyon was made.  I learned that every year the canyon is carved deeper about the thickness of one piece of paper.

IMG_0537After the visitor center, it was time to actually see the canyon.  There are two ways to get around in Grand Canyon National Park – walk the trail rim or take one of the shuttle buses.   We started off by walking a little bit along the trail rim.  They have a couple of neat viewing areas right near the visitor center.

After a quick PB&J lunch, we decided it was time for a hike.  We hopped aboard a shuttle bus and went to South Kaibab Trailhead.  The Kaibab Trail is one of two that you can take all the way from rim to rim.  We are pretty adventurous people, but not quiet that much.  But I don’t think I had ever actually been inside the canyon, so we wanted to at least hike down a little ways.

This was the trail we took down the canyon side.  If you look close, you can see a train of mules making their way up.

This was the trail we took down the canyon side. If you look close, you can see a train of mules making their way up.

It was funny hiking down the canyon walls.  There were lots of serious hikers, and then there was us – a loud family with a two and four year old.  Most people commented on how we were either very brave or very crazy for taking the kids on the hike.  Probably a combination of both.  Anyway, we made it quite a ways down, but decided we should probably turn back.  It was still fairly early in the day and we didn’t want to overextend ourselves.  The hike up was going to be much worse than the hike down.  There is a sign before you start your hike that says, “What goes down, must come back up.”

Luckily it wasn’t too bad getting back up.  By the time we got back on the shuttle bus and back to our car, it was mid-afternoon.  Everyone was pretty wiped from the hike and being in the sun, so we decided it was probably time to do the rest of the park in the car.

IMG_0662After driving for a while, we stopped near the East entrance at the Desert View Watchtower.  It was a neat four story tower that offered a different perspective of the canyon.  One really cool thing we saw there were two elk.  They pretty much walked right up to everyone and were not intimidated at all.

We ended our day with an hour and a half drive back to Flagstaff and some pizza.

Monday we visited a different park before we left the Flagstaff area.  We went to Walnut Canyon National Monument, a really interesting set of Indian cliff dwellings.  We went on another hike, but this one wasn’t too bad.  The park is in a really big canyon and you could see small little walls made out of clay and brink all round.  The trail took you to a set huts that you could go in.  The kids thought that was pretty cool.

IMG_0693Finally, we ended our Flagstaff trip with a drive through the Sedona area.  Sedona is another pretty area of Arizona known for their red rock formations.  We are hoping to be able to spend more time in Sedona at some point in this trip, because there is a lot to see there.

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