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          South Rim of the Grand Canyon (July 2009)
Overall Rating: B
Bush at Mather Point

Our 24 hour stay at the south rim of the Grand Canyon began at sunset on Mather Point.  A giant peninsula of rock juts into the canyon so you get a 270 degree panoramic view.  It’s a time to reflect, mingle with other travelers and worry about the kids climbing over the short chain link fence.  I’ve never been nervous about heights but when I have a ten, nine and five year old with me on the edge of a thousand foot cliff it begins to make me woozy, especially when the two boys can’t keep from constantly fighting and pushing.  I kept having visions of an argument over a video game ending in a helicopter evac attempt.

They say external empathy develops by the age of three, the recognition that hitting someone else hurts them just like it would hurt yourself.  However, I now believe that the empathy for someone out of sight that’s getting in the way of having a really good time develops later than the age of ten.  A giant hole with lots of loose rock lying around was just a huge kid magnet.  I looked up from my camera’s viewfinder when I heard hooting and hollering of familiar voices, just in time to see the boys fling a volley of rocks into the canyon.  Their visions of avalanches were quickly squashed by a boring lecture about anonymous hikers on the canyon floor.  After the lecture, I’m pretty sure they continued tossing, just got sneakier about it: a toss behind the back, or a flip of the toe.  

 Much of the wonder of the canyon was lost on the kids.  Their zone of attention seems to extend in a ten foot radius: rock squirrels rolling in the dirt next to the trail, walls to climb over, gift shops and snack bars. 

We took a nice stroll along the south rim to an exposed fossil patch.  Not the most interesting fossils, round indentations which were corrals and some shells, no T-Rex fangs.  Toni and the kids had no interest in my explanation of how marine fossils ended up a mile and a half above sea level.  Though Kyle was excited when he found a formation that looked like a dinosaur track and wasn’t phased when the ranger insisted dinosaurs hadn’t existed at that time. 

Overall, I enjoyed the canyon the most.  I’ve been three times and have hiked across.  A person doesn’t appreciate its size until you go down into it.  It’s just not going to blow young kids away.  When asked for a rating from 1-10, Kyle gave the canyon a 5.  “A five!  You give the Grand Canyon, one of the wonders of the world a 5?”, I exclaimed.  Kyle replied, “I would have given it an 8 if I was allowed to throw rocks into it.”

- Brian


Gotta Go!
1) Mather Point at Sunset
2) Hopi Point
3) South  Kaibab Trail

Stay Away!
1) Hermit's Rest
2) Town of Tusayan

Family at Mather Pt


Family Grades
Toni (Mom) - B -  "The Grand Canyon was bigger than I thought it would be and was shocking at first.  The kids were more intereested than I thought they would be, but after awhile it is just a big hole with rocks."

Sean (10 yrs) - B - "Too hot and sweaty, but the squirrels were awesome!"

Kyle (9 yrs) - C - "It is really too hot and you'll just sweat all day."

Emi (5 yrs) - B - "It was fun because our family was there."

Mather PointHopi Point, South Kaibab Trail, Hermit's Rest, Town of Tusayan
Mather Point Topic 2
Why Go
1)  A great place to watch the sunset (or sunrise if you're motivated)
2)  A good first view when you arrive at the Grand Canyon
Getting There
Sedona is 228 miles north of Phoenix, AZ. Here are directions to the Grand Canyon:  
Here is a map of the Grand Canyon with Mather Point.  Mather Point is near the entrance when you enter the Grand Canyon from the South.  
1)  If you're going onto any other parks during your tip, consider the annual pass: National Pak Service Site

2)  Parking may be tight so be patient or plan early to park somewhere else in the village and take the one of the shuttles.  In the busy season there are even buses from Tusayan.
Hopi Point
Why Go
Best view of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim.  You don't have to bother going all the way West along the rim after seeing Hopi Point if you are tight on time or have restless children.
Getting There
During the busy season you must take one of the park's shuttle buses from the Grand Canyon Village:
During calmer times you can drive west along the rim if the road isn't block by snow.
1)  You don't have to bother going all the way west along the rim after seeing Hopi Point if you are tight on time or have restless children.  Of course, all the canyon is worth seeing but the kids were fedup by the time we reached Hermit's Rest.
2)  Pick a section of the rim to walk, between bus stops.  There is a  pretty steep hill from the village to the first bus stop (Trailview Overlook) so you may want to pick another section which is flatter.  If I had to do it again I'd walk from Power Point to Hopi Point (about 1/2 mile).
South Kaibab Trail
Why Go
A steep and dramatic descent into the canyon.  I've hiked down it twice and hopefully will do it again.  You can't appreciate the size of the canyon unless you hike down into it.  I'll never forget spending most of a day hiking down the trail, across the Tonto Plateau to the edge of the canyon walls directly over the Colorado River.  I thought I'd be a few hundred feet over the river, instead I was several thousand feet above the water.
Getting There
Take the shuttle east from the village to the South Kaibab trailhead.  .
1) This is not a trail for a casual stroll.  There is no water on the South Kaibab Trail until you reach the Colorado River.  The trail is rugged, chewed up by the mule trains and a steep descent which is hard on the legs.  If you are fit, the dramatic scenery is well worth it.
2)  If you are not very fit and simply wish for an easier day hike you should consider the Bright Angel Trail as the trail is easier and there is shade and water mid-way at Indian Springs.  However, this is a strenous trail which can be deadly without proper water or being physically fit.
3)  I've hiked into the canyon in June and December.  I peferred December.  A light dusting of snow on the South Rim and 70 degrees at the Colorado River.  However, if you want to hike across to the North Rim you cannot do it in the winter as the North Rim is closed.
Hermits Rest
Stay Away
This is basically a gift shop and small snack bar at the end of the South Rim's bus route.  Views are spectacular but not as spectacular as the rest of the South Rim.  Nice, but not worth the extra time if you've got fidgety, tired kids.
Town of Tusayan
Stay Away
This is the town just outside the south entrance to the Grand Canyon.  The town consists of some basic motels, fast food joints, diners and an IMAX theater.  Considering the number of motel rooms, you'd think there'd be better restaurants or things to do.  Fine place to hit the sack, but don't expect anything more.

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