The First Day at the Canyon (and the Desert View Tour)
After a good night's sleep at the lodge, we all decided to get up early and go out to see the sunrise at El Tovar. Actually, a couple of us had intended to get up early and walk, but the rest decided to come along and we kind of ran out of time for the walking portion. The sunrise was stunning, if cold (the wind was pretty chilly), and we got our first real views of the Canyon.
Afterward, we had breakfast and went into the Yavapai Lodge center to check on tours. We decided on the Desert View Tour, which was a bus tour of the East Rim, and the Hermit's Rest Tour, which is a West Rim tour (we opted for the Sunset version of this tour, which we scheduled for Monday).
Having plenty of time before the Desert View Tour, we decided to hike from the Yavapai Lodge out to the Rim Trail. This is about 1/2 mile. This afforded a slightly different view of the Canyon. Unfortunately, none of these pictures can show the scale of the canyon at all.
We then walked back to El Tovar to catch the Desert View Tour from there, and got a few more good photos while we were waiting for the tour.
There is a water pumping station located below El Tovar called "Indian Gardens". The trail you see in the first photo is the trail to the Shadow Ranch. The visible portion is actually several miles long. The second photo was taken at 300mm and shows just how big the pumping station really is.
In another attempt to capture scale, here are three pictures taken at different zoom levels pointing in the same general direction. As you can see, the first picture also contains Indian Gardens, but also covers a very small tip of a large point near El Tovar. The second and third pictures are increasing zooms on the same area.
El Tovar is an interesting building. It is located in the Village, which is at the entrance to the West Rim area. The Village is actually quite large. Here is a photo of the Lookout Studio from El Tovar, followed by a photo of El Tovar from the Lookout Studio.
The Village is also where the Bright Angel Trail starts. This is the trail that people (who have reserved their places over a year in advance) can ride mules down to the Shadow Ranch. We intended to walk part of this trail, but never got the chance, unfortunately. Here is a small portion of the trailhead area (the trail is about 7 miles long total).
Our first stop on the Desert Tour was Yavapai Point, which afforded a view of the Colorado River (albeit a very tiny one).
Lipan Point was the second stop. This afforded a much better view of the Colorado River, and a much better perspective of the colors in the Canyon.
The next stop was at the Watchtower. This is a tall stone tower that is one of the furthest points on the Grand Canyon National Park road system (the Canyon itself continues for many more miles - it is over 270 miles long in total...).
This next picture is a little out of focus (the brilliant photographer, Nate, was taking photos using manual focus just before this one and forgot to turn the focus back on), but it is a nice photo of the petroglyphs on the walls inside the Tower, even if Brenda is just a BIT fuzzy...
It is quite a vantage point. The Painted Desert can be seen from this point. In March, the Painted Desert is mostly shades of green. In the summer, it is supposed to be much more colorful.
Our final stop on the tour was an area called "Duck-on-a-Rock", for obvious reasons. The light at Duck-on-a-Rock was also perfect for capturing some of the magnificent color of the Canyon.
After supper, we all decided to walk back out to the Rim to catch the sunset. It was, of course, also spectacular.
We managed to get a good sunset group shot (with a little help from the Tripod).
That night, we went out to Yavapai Point and attempted a few night photos. Unfortunately, there was too much light pollution from the Observation area's lights, and the photos did not come out.
Then it was off to bed in anticipation of the next morning's adventures.
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