With a nice morning stop at the Hoover dam, we continued with our journey. We had booked the Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon, and arrived there just after 2. Unfortunately we were not able to check in early, so we drove straight up to the canyon. The queues to get in were about 1/2 mile from the gates.
Entrance to the park is $30. This may seem steep, but it is valid for 7 days. The park is open 24 hours as well.
Mid afternoon is NOT the time to arrive at the park. Parking was non existent. We were unable to get parked near the main visitors centre, so drove round to the Yavapai Point Geological centre instead, and were fortunate to get a parking space on the 6th time round the car park. There were Rangers in this car park ticketing anyone who was not parked in a marked bay.
The geological centre was very informative and hands on. The kids loved it, even if it was a little busy.
We walked along the south rim trail up towards the visitors centre. Again, super busy. The nearer we got to the centre, the busier it got. The kids were getting a little bored and mischievous, so we turned around and decided to head back to the car.
We headed back to the car, and out of the park. We were able to check in to the hotel straight away. Our hotel room was right across from the pool, so the kids took a quick dip before dinner. We ate at the hotel in their very nice Canyon Star steak house. We all enjoyed a rather nice dinner. Oliver even had a whole steak to him self. Sebastian however fell asleep at the dinner table. Jet lag was starting to get to the little one.
Didn't stop them all from waking up at 6am the next day. We ate breakfast buffet at the hotel, and although we had to pay for the privilege, it was certainly worth the cost. Probably one of the best breakfast buffets we have ever had.
We were able to be in the park by 7.45am. There were no queues to gets, and we were able to park in the lot nearest the visitor centre. In fact, we were the first ones in the visitors centre.
After watching a short documentary in their theatre we headed back out to the rim.
It was cold this morning. Like freezing cold. But in the sun it warmed up very quickly. We walked the rim briefly before jumping in the car and heading to the Grand Canyon Village. A friend had recommend having breakfast in the El Tovar Hotel, but we couldn't get a response when we tried to book.
This area was one of the first areas opened up to tourists, mainly by the locals who lived there before it was designated a national park. The railways station was completed in 1901 and stopped carrying passengers to the park in 1968. It is the only railway station within a national park, and one of only three log cabin style train stations standing.
The area around the village is much quieter. Granted, we were there first thing in the morning. It may get busier as the day warms up. The area is steeped in human history, and well worth a visit.
The Grand Canyon is such a vast place. We probably only spent about 5 hours in there tops. Even then, we only did the really touristy south rim area, and stuck firmly to the tourist trails. Time constraints and small children didn't really allow for anything else. It is still an absolutely stunning amazing place. It really helps you realize how insignificant we really are compared to this stunning land mark that has been carved out from the elements for billions of years.