Updated August, 2000
We stayed on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for six days, long enough to see most of the rim sites, visit the Imax theatre, and take many, many pictures. Deb really had a hey-day at Grand Canyon. I didn't do too badly myself, taking over 250 photos. Below is a small selection of those.
There are many vista points along the rim of the Canyon. Trails lead along the rim from one point to the next. In some places there is a fence to keep people from venturing too near the edge, but the reports scattered around on the bulletin boards tell of five who went too far last year -- they are no longer with us.
The first day we stayed near the lodge area. There were plenty of views even from there. In the later days we traveled further and further away from our campground to see more and more of the canyon.
There are many smaller canyons within the Grand Canyon. As the lighting changes, some of the formations in the canyon take on different views. What I have tried to do with these photos is to give you a sampling of what we saw. There were many photos to choose from, and many of them are of the same formation, just in different light.
Did I mention that all of the walls at the rim of the Grand Canyon are steep. People standing on them don't seem to realize that. Some walls fall away at an angle. Others were more percipitous.
There were some things to see along the rim other than just the canyon.
Here you see the remains of an old mine hoist on the side of the canyon. The actual mine tunnel was 1,000 feet down into the canyon, and they had to hoist the ore up to the top so it could be sent on its way for processing. They mined some uranium from down in the canyon, but all mining has now stopped.
There is wildlife to be seen. This squirrel seemed to not care about the people who were running around taking pictures. He does look well fed. There were also chipmunks and lizards, but at over 5,000 feet elevation, the reptiles were not heavily represented. The plants were mostly evergreens, but there were a few deciduous trees and bushes.
This is a desert rose. The bees appreciated these flowers and worked the blooms over and over. There were many other kinds of plants along the South Rim but no many were blooming. Either we were early or late.
The rocky soil at the rim of the Grand Canyon is sometimes hard on the trees. This pine had obviously been fighting a long, hard battle to just survive. In time, its base will fall into the canyon, but in the meantime it will produce a few pine cones to grow in some new location, possibly at a lower level in the canyon itself.
One of the popular activities at the South Rim is to take a hike. You can follow this trail from the lodge. It is an easy walk, at least to the first switchback. It is the Bright Angel Trail. We could see a couple of huts further down the trail where people could stop and possibly get some assistance if things were not going well. But there was not much in the way of water. Carry your own!
This trail branched further down. There were several routes that took you down to the river if you wanted to walk that far. There was one important bit of advice if you want to do a day-hike at Grand Canyon: plan on it taking twice as long to come up as it takes to go down.
Alice is not the adventuresome type. She didn't follow Deb and me when we went out to the end of the points. She preferred to find a tree and hang onto it. Of course, it was also shadier under the trees.
The area west of the lodge is closed to all cars unless someone in the party is disabled. This was good in that it cut down on the traffic on the road and around the view points. Instead, the Park Service provided a shuttle bus service that ran from the lodge about six miles west to Hermit's Point. You could get off at any vista point and then catch the next bus.
Here you see another view of the canyon. The canyon off to the right is a side canyon of the Colorado River. At some places you could get a view of the river itself, but it was a long way down.
This is as close as I got to the Colorado River at the South Rim. This picture was taken at a 10x zoom. We thought we could see some rafts along the river from time to time. One thing for sure, I would not want to run those rapids without a good guide, and this is relatively low water.
It is hard to gain a true perspective of the size of the Grand Canyon. It is a huge structure. It is twelve miles across from the South Rim to the North Rim. It is about a mile deep.
At one of the vistas I leaned on the railing and took a series of photos forming a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. I used the PhotoVista program to stitch together 8 pictures to create a view of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Deb and Alice were on opposite sides from me and the railing was straight. Be careful. Do not click on this image to download the full image unless you have lots of time and/or a fast connection. The original file is 1.1 megabytes in size.
This is part of the upper formations at Grand Canyon. Again you can see just how steep the first step can be. People could still be found at every observation point, even some that were not designated as observation points. Of course, the view from those points was spectacular.
One of the best times to see and photograph the Grand Canyon is at sunset, especially if you get a good set of clouds to color things up. Deb went out one evening without us and got some great shots. That encouraged me to go along with her for a second trip to see if I could duplicate her good success. We had to pick an evening when the clouds were not so thick they were dropping rain. We had a couple of days when the thunderheads built up quite nicely, but it did not rain hard on us.
We started early. There were some clouds hanging around, the puffy cumulous types, so it was going to be good viewing. As the clouds traced their shadows across the canyons, there were more and more great shots.
This is another view. As the shadows started to become stronger, you could discern more and more of the sides of the canyons.
I noticed that the clouds seem to come and go. Sometimes they would evaporate and then reappear further south or east.
Things really started to color up when the sun got lower. There are deeper and deeper shadows with the tops of the plateaus becoming more red and yellow.
Soon people started to gather to watch the sunset. They were mostly quiet, many of them seeming to want to meditate as the sun dropped further down into the sky. There was a feeling of peacefulness, heightened by the awesome sights that surrounded the area.
Then the sun finally set in the distance and the day came to an end. It did not happen all at once. It seemed to take forever. And even after the yellow orb of the sun had dropped below the horizon, there was still an afterglow in the sky, touching the clouds and turning them from yellow to red and finally to grey.
Sunset is by far the finest hour to see the Canyon and to feel its splendour.