If You Want To Visit The Grand Canyon (And you know, SEE IT.) Part 2

I’m in the middle of telling you how to get to the Grand Canyon and see it.

Two days ago I shared the first five tips we learned from our mistakes and today I’ve got five more. Have you been to the Grand Canyon? If you have more, genuine tips that I’ve neglected, feel free to add them in the comments.

First, let me add that had we been traveling to Grand Canyon for the sole purpose of going there, and had we been spending more time there, our results, and our tips, would have been different. However, if you’re planning to stop at the canyon on the way to somewhere else.. you very well might need some of these tips!

10things2

You can find the first five tips here. Without further ado, let’s pick up where we left off:

6.) Everybody lies. (Or is at the very least grossly mistaken.)

File this under “now we know to double it.” The reason we were running behind on our day? Because driving through the Painted Desert took twice as long to drive through it (or more) than the very nice man at the visitor’s center said it would.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We enjoyed it and we are really glad we did it. And we don’t think he was trying to mislead us on purpose. Not at all!

But here’s the thing, the same thing happened when we returned to the Grand Canyon the very next day. The Spring Guide you see online and which they give you when you enter the park has a list of activities that you can do in 1-2 hours, 3-4 hours, etc. My mom and I planned to spend about 2 hours or so and then get back on the road. That sounded like a good plan.

A portion of the Spring Guide, which can be found online. We chose to shuttle to Mather's Point instead of walking.
A portion of the Spring Guide, which can be found online. We chose to shuttle to Mather’s Point instead of walking.

Well let me tell you: There is no way you can get in and out of the Grand Canyon in 1-2 hours. 

I mean, not from beginning to end. Not from the time you arrive at the line of cars waiting to get through the ticket booths until the time you leave the park gates. There’s no way. Even if you’re only counting from the time you get out of your car until the time you get back into it, I’m not sold. MAYBE.. MAYBE if you only went in and did ONE thing,.. I mean, made a bee line straight for it, saw it, and left,.. then maybe you could make it back out in 1-2 hours. But that’s a pretty strong “maybe.”

The next two reasons will tell you why…

Waiting in line to get into the National Park.
Waiting in line to get into the National Park.

7.) The Grand Canyon National Park is busy, all year round.

We were visiting in the off season when they “aren’t so busy.” Still, once we arrived at the gates we sat in line for 20-30 minutes until we got to the ticket booth. And we already had our ticket! We just needed to get through the line.

Once inside the park, it was very difficult to find parking spaces. We were not the only cars circling around looking for places to park. The main parking lots were full, the overflow lots were full. We ended up parking at the Grand Canyon village and shuttling over to the Visitor’s Center – which really wasn’t that bad, really. But it did take some time. I bet we spent 20 minutes or more finding a place to park.

This is a good place to point out that when they say “do not park on the roads,” they really mean, “DO NOT PARK ON THE ROADS.” Or really, anywhere that isn’t a designated parking space. Everywhere we looked we saw people pulling off into the grass on the edges of the parking lots, and the small roads that lead into the parking lots, and even trying to park off into the grass on the main road leading from lot to lot.

Now, I have no idea how much a parking ticket at the Grand Canyon will run you, but I do know that we saw them writing citations and placing them under the wipers, just going down the line of cars and writing everybody up. Now that’s one way to put a damper on the vacation!

The view at Mather's Point. Notice the guard rails. Some points are railed, most of the canyon is not.
The view at Mather’s Point. Notice the guard rails. Some points are railed, most of the canyon is not.

8.) Thankfully there are shuttles that run all over the park, every fifteen minutes.

The shuttle system was actually well organized and quite nice. Even though we had to park a good distance away, we didn’t have to walk all the way back over by ourselves. After shopping for souvenir hats in the village (don’t forget to bring a hat!,) we only had to wait 15 minutes or less for the next shuttle to arrive. That shuttle took us back to the Visitor’s center and then it was only a matter of hopping another shuttle to wherever we wanted to go.

But here’s the caveat: even though the shuttles run every fifteen minutes, that does mean you spend some of your time waiting for shuttles. Now, I’m NOT complaining. But I AM saying that you need to factor that time in. 

Our trip: shuttle from the village to the Visitor’s Center, peruse the Vistor’s Center and get our passport stamped, shuttle from the Visitor’s Center to Mather’s Point, walk from Mather’s Point to the Geology center, shuttle from Geology center to the Visitor’s Center and from there back to the village. Once we were out of the park, our grand total for our Grand Canyon visit was well over four hours.

So as I said, we now know that whatever time “they” say it will take, we know it will take *us* at least twice that long. =)

All the maps were just confusing to my brain. I kept looking for a clearly marked "START HERE" or something. ;)
All the maps were just confusing to my brain. I kept looking for a clearly marked “START HERE” or something. 😉 To their credit, they did have the written directions posted in several location, all of which clearly tell you to take Hwy 64 from Williams. We just didn’t catch that GPS was routing us from the East until it was too late.

9.) BYOB

No! Bring your own BOTTLE…of WATER. Good grief! What did you think I meant??

One of the really cool things about the Grand Canyon was that they did NOT sell bottled water. Nope! They do, however, have water filling stations all over the park — with fresh, Grand Canyon spring water. 

We also noticed that in addition to trash bins, recycling bins were located throughout the park. In fact, the whole park has been “greened,” in a variety of really cool ways. Check it out!

10.) If you go through all that trouble to get to the Grand Canyon and SEE IT… make sure your camera is charged!

Yes. I am guilty. All that time sitting in the car and my camera (phone) wasn’t charging. Shortly after arriving, my phone shut down and died. BLOGGER FAIL!

I did, however, still have my camera, which my son was using, and my daughters’ camera phones, which they were using. I mostly let them take all the pictures they wanted, though I did borrow the camera once or twice. Besides, my mom took enough pictures for all of us. 😉

So once you finally make it to the Grand Canyon, and you know all these things that we know now so you get there at the right time and you have it all figured out,.. don’t forget to take the obligatory selfie! (Selfie stick optional.)

CH-grand-canyon-selfie

Now you know all that you need to know for a successful visit to the canyon. As a blogger, I felt duty bound to share our “grandest pit stop ever” for your educational benefit! We sat in the car laughing until we cried, and crying until we could stop laughing so we could drive back out of the park that night. If you can’t laugh and have fun over something like that, well, you’re not having as much fun as you *could* have! 

In the end, we really did enjoy our visit to the Grand Canyon, and it was worth the second trip. I know it isn’t *their* fault that we didn’t get there early enough in the day to see it during the daylight. That said, if you’re like me, if you get confused easily, you miss turns, or misread maps,.. well.. maybe you can learn from my experience. If you’re driving through Arizona and you have the time, you should definitely take a few hours to see it. 

Blessings~

(P.S. Looking for more pictures of our visit? Click here for part three.)

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