Exploring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

1 06 2017

Duck on a Rock, Grand Canyon South Rim

After getting settled into our campsites overnight, our first outing the next day was to the Visitors Center.  It’s about a mile walk over to the Visitors Center or a short ride on the Blue shuttle.  From here you can explore along the rim all the way to the South Kaibab Trailhead, out to Mathers Point or return to the Market Plaza.

Logistics: There 4 shuttle bus routes operating along the South Rim.  The Village Route (blue line) handles stops for the Market Plaza and Village areas.  This includes stops at both Mathers Campground and Trailer Village.  The Hermits Rest Route (red line) interchanges at Village near the Bright Angle trailhead and continues for 9 stops along the rim in the western direction to Hermits Rest.  Coming back eastbound, the shuttle only makes 3 stops between Hermits Rest and Village Transfer.  If you want to see all of the rim overviews, make sure you are jumping on and off the westbound shuttle.  The Tusayan Route (purple line) runs from the Visitors Center out of the park through the south entrance to the small town of Tusayan.  The Kaibab/Rim Route (orange line) runs from the Visitors Center between Yaki Point to Yavapai Point.  Private vehicles are not allowed along the Orange (to Yaki Point) or Red lines, shuttles are the only way to see these South Rim vistas.

El Tovar Lodge, Grand Canyon South Rim

After getting an overview at the Visitors Center, the next day we jumped on the Blue line to explore the Village area.  Most of the Grand Canyon accommodations are found here, from the luxurious El Tovar Hotel, the more casual Bright Angle Lodge and the Maswik Lodge.  There are some gorgeous overlooks at Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio, both perched on the very edge of the rim.   Catching the Red line at the Village Transfer station, we stop at several of the view points on the western route including Hopi Point, The Abyss and Pima Point.  Hopi Point is the first place along this route that you can see the river below.  The Abyss is known for its almost vertical view down the canyon, looking into the Monument Creek drainage.  Pima Point is an overlook that provides great views and sometimes sounds of the Colorado River below.

Working in the Park:  There are many WiFi access points scattered throughout the park including the Visitors Center, the Market Plaza area at the Yavapai Lodge and the camper services building at Mather.  Unfortunately none of these connections worked well enough for real access.  Phone email seemed to work slowly, but that was about it.  Verizon cell service is spotty throughout the park, but like the WiFi, very limited in bandwidth if you are able to connect.  We ended up driving out of the park to Tusayan and using the fee-based WiFi service at the Grand Hotel.  We did have T-Mobile access in Tusayan, but only slow 2G roaming services limited to 100Mb of data.





The Grand Canyon – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World

31 05 2017

Good Morning from Mather Campground!

Perched on the south rim, Mather is a typical very large Federal campground.  With over 300 sites, there are great RV sites, tent sites and group sites.  With a stated limit of 30 feet, our two 31 and 32 foot 5th wheels fit into sites #181 and #183 very easily.  And, with mindful positioning, there’s no problem with our opposing slides. These are the last two sites on the Juniper Loop.  However, with these “inside-the-loop” sites, entering through the “Exit Only”, we’re in the first two spots and properly positioned with our doorways and awning to our campsite rather than to the road.  We also have friends in site #185, the first site on the Maple Loop. This site also works fine with a slightly over sized 5th wheel with slides.

There are no facilities at the sites except picnic tables and fire rings.  At least 1 and sometimes up to 3 water taps are available for filling on each loop.  Unexpected, but convent, we have one on our site #183 – and it even has threads for attaching a hose.  A dump station is provided at the campground entrance not far from a camper services building with showers and laundry.  There are also flush toilets scattered throughout the camping loops.

Located next to Mather Campground is Trailer Village, a concessionaire operated full hookup campground.  With 80 sites this campground gets good reviews for larger rigs – or those that prefer electric, water and sewer ports.  The western half of the village appears to be for guests, while the eastern half appears to be long terms residents, we assume employees.  The guest side has paved roads and sites, the employee site is rough dirt roads and even some rougher looking sites.

Both campgrounds are within walking distance of the Market Plaza, or catch the shuttle bus at the entrance to each campground for transportation to the market and other areas along the south rim from Hermits Rest to the Yaki Point.





Monument Valley, UT

29 05 2017

Goulding’s RV Park, Monument Valley, UT

After leaving Durango, we’re headed to Monument Valley, UT.  With a slight detour south, we’ve stopped at the Four Corners monument and driven in all four of the linked states, from Colorado to New Mexico, into Arizona and then back to the north into Utah.  Just a few miles from the state line is Monument Valley, and the Goulding’s complex including an RV park that will be our home for the next two nights.

Set in a narrow canyon of towering red stone cliffs, the campground offers full hookups including cable TV & WiFi, on nicely sized sites, most with a tree or two.  We’re in sites #31 and #32, two pull through sites closer to the east side of the campground.  Most of these sites have an eastern view, looking toward Monument Valley and offering afternoon shade. The main camper services building provides a laundromat, a small store, showers, bathrooms and an indoor pool.  With our Good Sam discount, rates were still in the pricey range at around $62.00 per night.

We’re traveling with good friends who just took delivery of a new Grand Design Reflection.  Arriving in the parking lot at Goulding’s, one of their curb side wheels is making a terrible grinding noise.  With no RV service shop within miles, they were very lucky to find one of the Goulding’s employees with knowledge of trailer wheels and axles – and the willingness to assist with the greasy job of removing the wheel and brake hub.  The front brake appears to have been dragging and is ground down to bare metal.  Thanks again to Quinton for his assistance in removing these brake parts to allow them to continue their trip.

On a quick side-trip, we’ve driven about 30 miles north to Goosenecks State Park to check out the views and the dry camping sites.  The river view is awesome – the 5 or 6 campsites are very basic, scattered across a gravel parking lot, each with a covered picnic table and a fire ring.

After two nights at Goulding’s we’ll head to the Grand Canyon – more from there…





Alpen Rose RV Park, Durango, CO

28 05 2017

Alpen Rose RV Park, Site #11

Good Morning from Durango!

After a quick overnight stop at San Luis Valley RV Campground in Villa Grove (read review), we’ve crossed Wolf Creek Pass and dropped into the San Juan River basin. Spectacular in fall colors, the San Juan valley is equally impressive now as snow melts and the lush greenness of springs takes over.

At Durango we turn north on highway 550 through town to Alpen Rose RV Park, about 2 miles north of town.  Set back off the highway, this 100 site park provides lots of amenities and beautiful views of the Las Animus river valley.  About half of the sites are in front of the main office/restaurant/shower house, laundry complex.  With few trees, these front sites offer full sunlight and most are configured back to back, with shared power, TV cable, water and sewer ports.  To the rear of the property sites #1-56 are mostly shaded under tall trees.  In the first row (sites #1-#12) the sites back up to a neighboring fence with plenty of privacy.  We’re parked in sites #11 & #12.  Not shown on the map is site #30, positioned between these two sites. All three sites are good, with #12 being the best with a huge grassy area between the site and the fishing pond.  The majority of the other sites here are configured back to back with a nice shared area between with grass and a couple of picnic tables.  For example, Sites #24 & #25 would be a good set-up for 2 rigs traveling together.  For pet owners there is a huge 2 acre pet run to the front of the property.  We took advantage of the on-site Chuck Wagon Breakfast one morning.  For about $7.50 you enjoy all you can eat pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and sausage patties.

On Saturday we’ve planned a visit to the SKA Brewery for a tour and tastings.  We enjoyed our beer experience so much we ended up at the Brew Pub & Kitchen downtown on College Drive for more beer and dinner.  On Sunday we’re off to Monument Valley, UT.  More from there…

 





Springtime in Colorado

18 05 2017

Spring in Colorado

After arriving home on May 4th to comfortable temperatures in the mid 60’s the following two weeks were above average with temperatures nearly reaching 70 degrees a few times,  which is not bad considering normal averages are the 50’s.

Returning to Lathrup State Park on the 11th, we had one chilly day in the mid-50’s and then beautiful weather in the upper 70’s.  With a bit of windy weather we opted to tour “The Highway of Legends”, the 50 miles or so loop of highway 12 that runs near Lathrup State Park to Trinidad.

Spanish Peaks, Lathrup State Park

After returning from Lathrup, we held onto the mid 60’s for one day, dropped into the mid 50’s and today are struggling to get above freezing.  Unfortunately this storm seems fairly well embedded with forecast temperatures not much above freezing until next weekend.  Known as a “4 corners low”, when positioned just right these storms push plenty of moisture toward the Colorado front range.  In Denver, temperatures are expected to keep all but a few inches of snow from accumulating.  However, at 9000’ we have at least 12” so far, and expect another 12” to 24”.  Needless to say, as much as I hated doing it, the trailer has been re-winterized and all of the liquids unloaded into the garage.  Hopefully the forecast of mid-60’s by mid-next week are correct – if so, all of this snow will be a distant memory.

On Thursday we’ll restock the RV and head west, this time toward the Grand Canyon.  More as we head into Southern Colorado and Northern Arizona…