the villageYes, they call it the Grand Canyon village ...although considering the size and expanse of the canyon, calling this place a "village" might seem ironical...but it does have a very characteristic charm complete with cozy lodging, comfort food and homely entertainment. There are plenty of options for all ages to explore the village....you could spend a week...and still not have seen it all. To add to its uniqueness, the village also offers seasonal plays at the amphitheater, nature programs, beautiful wildlife and panoramic vistas all around.
The East Rim drive towards Desert View is spectacular not only in what it visually offers to its patrons, it is very rewarding spiritually as well. Only 26 miles from the village, while getting here, you quickly learn (as we did), this place is all about unbelievable sunrises and sunsets...and everything in between. The possibility of capturing this timeless beauty with our eyes in person, was enough motivation to not have to wait for our alarm to jump start our morning. We were up early before the crack of dawn and ready to take in one of the most breathtaking sights on our journey.
the sunThis gentle winding road that skirts the rim of the east canyon, offers multiple wayside pull outs as well as marked view points, each offering an extremely rewarding panoramic view. Some that deserve special mention are Grandview, Lipan and Desert View. But what you receive in terms of visual delight far supersedes any stretch of imagination. It is recommended that in order to truly appreciate the beauty of sunrise over the canyon, you must get to your"spot" well ahead of the actual posted sunrise time (the visitor center clearly chalks out sunrise and sunset times for each day).
With little to no light the gigantic canyon pit forms a faintly visible outline but what dramatically accentuates this sight are bands of early morning mist rolling in and encompassing the upper layers of stone and rock forming a silvery lining to the dark abyss beneath it . They seem suspended in mid air creating just a pale hue to reveal what lays underneath, above and all around it. As these giant rock structures tower through this cotton like haze, their tops are the first to catch the early morning rays of the sun. Far off in the distance, they shimmer and shine like molten gold as if tens of thousands of mirrors lined its crest. Intensifying in color, brilliance with each passing second the sun beams cut through bands of mist to wake the canyon to another unimaginable and life changing morning.
and the skyAnd after that mindblowing experience, we headed further east towards Desert View close to the east entrance to the park, and the highest point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Originally set up as a trading post, at this scenic spot stands a 70 foot tall stone and concrete Desert Watchtower that not only photographs beautifully, it also provides sweeping views of the distant painted desert to the east, the stunning stretch of the meandering Colorado river down below and out in the distance 3000 ft high Vermillion cliffs bordering Utah.
The entrance to the watchtower is shaped like a Navajo hogan complete with a traditional log ceiling. It houses a fascinating gift shop with stairs leading upto the tower's four levels. The large circular walls as you ascend the tower form an expansive canvas depicting art work and painting about gods, wedding and other traditional Hopi petroglyphs. Black mirrored "Reflectoscopes" set out on the terrace of the tower, present a very unique perspective to see the canyon from, they seem to intensify the colors by eliminating the haze from the picture. Finally, on the fourth level, you can gaze out windows from the highest viewpoint on the South Rim—7,522 feet.
TIP: For security reasons, gas stations are not permitting within the Canyon. Your best bets to fuel up are either outside the park on the south entrance, or at Desert view just past the east entrance. There is also a small snack bar and grocery store at Desert View to gather up some munchies for the road.