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 Angel 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 Angel 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.

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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.