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:
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:
and finally, 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.”
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.
We also stopped in Arizona to get gas here, because how could you not:
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:
We walked the quarter mile up to the rim where there were mule deer at every turn:
and were greeted with this:
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.
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):
The bathroom was small but clean and the water pressure was excellent:
There isn’t a closet but there is an area for hanging clothes, and a sink and mirror just outside the bathroom:
There’s also a little desk right next to the entrance that you can make look like this:
And here’s the outside of the lodge again:
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:
After a couple of hours we packed ourselves back into the car and drove away, peace and beauty at our backs.