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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