Seeing the Grand Canyon Like a Tourist
Our original goal was to hike into the Grand Canyon, all the way to the bottom, in early March. But we didn’t plan well, and we didn’t end up having enough time to do it on our way back east. Still, we were practically driving right by it, so why not just pop up and take a look? I mean, it’s only the biggest goddamn hole in the world, Ellen. You can’t miss it.
So we budgeted one day to visit the Grand Canyon, like most visitors. I really wanted to see it with a bit of snow on the rim. We drove up from Flagstaff in the morning and were back in Flagstaff in the evening. It almost physically pained me to stand at the edge and not go in. I don’t really even want to write about it. I’ve been to the Grand Canyon three times now, and there’s only so many times you can stand at the top and look in. All the good stuff is DOWN THERE! You just need to take the time and effort to get into it. It’s irresistible: the teal water, the red, white, yellow cliffs, the spires and outcroppings, the heat. Standing at the top and looking in feels obscene and lazy, like you’re seeing something that you aren’t supposed to be seeing, but you aren’t looking away, either. And I’m not talking about the dude we saw peeing over the edge. Driving in, getting out of the car, looking over the edge, leaving. It’s just too easy, too fast, too hard to fully comprehend what you’re seeing. Well kids, back in the car.
Spring is a great time to visit the Grand Canyon, though it is still cold (about 35-40 on the rim when we visited). The air is clearer, so you can see farther. There are no forest fires or controlled burns smoking up the sky. It’s busy, but if you’ve ever visited in the summer it’ll seem like you’ve got the place to yourself.
Spring is an even better time to hike into the canyon, if you’re not squeamish about potentially slipping over the edge. The top of the trail is covered with snow and ice, and I was terrified enough to turn around after taking a single step on the trail and sliding a little. There’s nothing to grab onto, nothing to stop you from skidding right over the edge. So I made a promise to the Grand Canyon, since it kept me from slipping in. I will come back, and I will hike into the canyon. And I will love it.