{Travel} Grand Canyon / Maswik Lodge

Grand Canyon

You know how some things are so awesome that they almost become cliche — like bacon, ninjas or Chuck Norris? The Grand Canyon is one of those things.

So it was only recently that I thought perhaps I should check it out. Kind of like how five years after the iPhone came out I finally got one and thought, huh, maybe this Apple thing is here to stay (except that maybe it isn’t).

My kids get a week-long break in February, but I don’t, so we planned a half-week road trip from SoCal to the Canyon. We decided to stop in Vegas on the way there and back to break up the drive.

We saw a lot of this on the drive:

Open road

Lots of wide open spaces that make you really feel just how big America really is, and how small you really are. And truckers. I thought a lot about truckers on our trip, about how lonely it must be, and how poor the food choices are. At one point I fantasized about starting a non-profit to improve the eating options of truckers, and then I started to get emotional from all the conversations I had with the imaginary truckers who engaged with the non-profit and were so happy to see arugula salads and juice bars. I never said that I was stable.

As we progressed through the mighty Mojave desert the landscape was painted with beautiful luminous coral brushstrokes:

Mojave desert evening

and finally, sunset:

Mojave sunset

We did a quick jaunt to the Vegas strip, which included stuffing our faces at the Bellagio buffet that was amazing but totally not worth the kids eating just mac and cheese, and headed back to rest up for the drive the next day. Not without passing a billboard for Crazy Horse 3, to which my 9-year-old responded, “Let me guess. It has nothing to do with horses.”

Vegas

The next day we picked up and drove to the Hoover Dam, which is only about 30 minutes outside of Vegas. There, you can be in Nevada, and then Arizona, and then Nevada, and so on within minutes, which is kind of fun since they’re in different time zones. I won’t dwell too much here on the dam except to say that it is very big and and an engineering feat indeed.

Hoover Dam

We also stopped in Arizona to get gas here, because how could you not:

Uranus Gas

Now, the Canyon. We arrived at the South Rim around 4 PM and hurriedly drove around looking for the Maswik Lodge, where we were staying and which is just at the edge of the canyon. You can see the outside of the lodge here:

Maswik Lodge outside

We walked the quarter mile up to the rim where there were mule deer at every turn:

Mule deer

Path to rim

and were greeted with this:

Grand Canyon panoramic

Grand Canyon view

There’s really nothing that prepares you for the vastness and the grandeur of the view. It was a quiet evening, and we were nearly alone along the rim as the sun was beginning to set. The majesty of the canyon literally takes your breath away. We couldn’t help but be silent as we took the view in.

It looks like a painting. It changes constantly. It’s different at every turn. It brings you a certain peace. At least, it brings me peace. Grand landscapes and sweeping swaths of sky give me the perspective that I am but a tiny piece of this world. That my stressors, no matter how big they seem when I look inward, are infinitesimal when I look outward. That’s why I love big skies. They help me decompress.

After a quick walk around, we headed back to the lodge.

Walking back

Now, a bit about the Maswik Lodge:

  • It’s inside the National Park and you can make reservations here. We went in the off-season so rates were very reasonable and easy to get; you will likely have to reserve early if you’re going anywhere from April through October.
  • There are two choices of room types: the North rooms have been renovated and have nicer bedding and furniture; the South rooms where we stayed are perfectly reasonable and clean, though basic. I didn’t see any of the renovated rooms but will post photos of our room here. The room is very small — not much more than what you see in the pictures.
  • I wasn’t sure what to expect from a park service lodge, but shampoo, conditioner and lotion was provided, as was an ionic hairdryer — nice touch, I thought.
  • We went in February so it was cold and snowy outside, but the rooms were very warm. VERY warm. We turned off the heat and were still pretty hot, and the air was drier than we were used to. But we live in SoCal so are inherently weaker than other people.
  • I’ll be making a separate post about the food at the lodge, which was very reasonable as well and exceeded my expectations for what I’d be getting at a park.
  • I’ve heard good things about Bright Angel as well, but it wasn’t available when I checked. Bright Angel is right on the rim.

Ok, now for the pictures. I forgot to take them before we settled into (read: made a sty of) the room, so please forgive the mess but you’ll get an idea of the space.

The beds (and knitting children):

Beds

The bathroom was small but clean and the water pressure was excellent:

Bathroom

There isn’t a closet but there is an area for hanging clothes, and a sink and mirror just outside the bathroom:

Mirror and sink

There’s also a little desk right next to the entrance that you can make look like this:

Desk

And here’s the outside of the lodge again:

Lodge outside

The next morning we headed out to explore the South Rim of the Canyon again — the North Rim is inaccessible in the winter due to snow. Unless you have traction equipment, you can’t walk down into the canyon either in February because it’s icy, so we walked along the easy, paved trail that has convenient lookout points throughout. There’s also a free shuttle bus service that runs along the rim and to the various lodges in the area.

There are a few lookout points that the bus doesn’t reach, so we drove out to those; as I said, the canyon looks different throughout the day and from different vantage points:

Canyon again

After a couple of hours we packed ourselves back into the car and drove away, peace and beauty at our backs.

7 Comments

  • Helen
    March 6, 2013 - 10:55 PM | Permalink

    We did the exact same journey as you and stayed in the exact same lodge, at the exact same time of year too. I know exactly where you are coming from!

    • March 7, 2013 - 9:37 PM | Permalink

      I finally saw your pics and you’re RIGHT! It was awesome…more people should do it :).

  • March 7, 2013 - 9:49 AM | Permalink

    Lovely trip recap, and your review of the lodging was great info, too. I loved your photos! Sounds like a really wonderful vacation… I would love to see the Grand Canyon!… especially in the snow! How magical.

    i LOVE that your girls knit! I am a terrible knitter — I think you and I have discussed this before! — but it’s such a fun thing to do anywhere one goes :) rock on!

    • March 7, 2013 - 9:44 PM | Permalink

      Thanks Sophie! It was lovely…and the knitting is a new thing for the girls. I’m probably not the best guide…one of my early hats ended up not fitting any humans. But like you said, it’s fun to do anyway!

  • August 8, 2013 - 10:10 AM | Permalink

    oh gosh, first time to your blog and i am blown away. I just kept on scrollling down and reading, scrolling and reading, smiling, laughing, scrolling… and i love the picture of your husband with your daughter. so real and funny.

    I just wanna let you know that i am enjoying your blog and that i might visit the grand canyon in december, so your information was helpful.

    Thanks
    Michelle

    • August 9, 2013 - 10:24 PM | Permalink

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Michelle! The Grand Canyon was great…a fantastic place to get perspective. Thanks for your kind words and hope you enjoy the canyon!

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