Day 5 & 6 Exploring the Grand Canyon National Park
*START HERE to find our full itinerary and links to each portion of our trip!
*GEAR round-up Post HERE, including sensory items we ALWAYS travel with.
After driving from Page, Arizona (only about a 2 1/2 hour drive) we arrived at the Grand Canyon National Park for lunch reservation at the famous El Tovar Restaurant located within the Lodge. Reservations are open 30 days in advance and book up immediately, so set those alarms! The French Onion soup was probably the BEST I’d ever had! Many tables do have sweeping views of the canyon!
*QUICK PAUSE: I’d be remiss to not share something that came up for me on our drive into the Grand Canyon park and while in the Grand Canyon itself. I have a pretty big fear of heights, and this was really apparent during our drive in and while visiting. The anxiety of my family either falling, tripping or getting close to the edge (even with railings) was incredibly difficult for me to manage. I was so blown away by the Canyon itself, I’m truly glad we made this part of our trip BUT I don’t think I could manage returning.
We walked a portion of the Rim Trail after lunch and then headed to check in to where we will stay the next two days. I was REALLY excited about this lodging and it DID NOT DISAPPOINT! We stayed at the Clear Sky Resorts dome type tents! These uniquely decorated and extraordinary lodges made our stay at the Grand Canyon even better. I chose the Nature design which had a queen bed and a queen bed plus twin in the loft area. Perfect for our family of 5! Each dome had a unique design and layout, so you can chose the best for your family! These domes are about 30 min south of the South Rim entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park.
On the property also had a playground, bounce pillow (VERY large and super fun!), large fire pits, games for the kids and a food truck serving breakfast and dinner! Each afternoon we received a text letting us know of the evenings events like live music, s’mores kits for the bonfire and a stargazing opportunity with a local astrologer!
Exploring the Grand Canyon
We planned to spend the next full day at the Grand Canyon hiking and exploring the area. We hit a few snags. One, there really aren’t many trails besides the Rim Trail that we found appropriate for our family. After walking the trail for an hour or two in the morning and exploring the Visitor’s Center, we had just about exhausted our need for “views”. We grabbed some sandwiches for lunch at the Maswik Lodge, but we still had many hours to kill before our Sunset Motorcoach Tour. The sweeping views of the Canyon are absolutely incredible. It really almost didn’t appear real! It’s really hard to fathom the depth and breadth of the canyon until you stand near the edge. I absolutely recommend seeing it once in your lifetime. BUT hindsight, I wished we had spent an extra day in Zion National Park and just spent the one afternoon at the Grand Canyon.
To kill a little time before the sunset tour, we headed down to walk the Greenway just south of the South Rim entrance near the Visitor’s Center. We hiked a few miles on a beautiful paved trail through the woods!
After, we went to the Visitor’s Center to watch the IMAX movie, Grand Canyon: Rivers of Time. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing this at the beginning of your trip! I wished we had done this FIRST. It was a great way to learn the origins of the Canyon, its first inhabitants and the men that explored the canyon initially.
TIP: Buy your tickets online for the IMAX and save a few $$. Also, after the show, they were offering FREE Pizza Hut personal pizzas if you fill out a short survey (no personal information asked)!
I booked a Sunset Motorcoach Tour within the park a few months in advance. The cost of the tour is $38.00 per adult (age 17 and older) and $19.00 per child (age 3 to 16). Children 2 and under are free. The tour was about 1.5 hours long and we had an EXCELLENT tour guide sharing facts about the Grand Canyon Village, local flora and fauna and guided us along the South Rim, Hermit’s Rest (RED Local bus route) route. Viewing the Grand Canyon during sunset allowed the true depth of the canyon to appear with the shadows at sunset. Our motorcoach had larger windows and padded seats compared to the local bus. For us, it was worth the cost for the guided tour!
TIP: To save money, grab the Hermit’s Rest RED Village Bus for FREE and ride to any stop along the route. It is a stop and drop bus so you can wait for the next one to grab another vista view or ride it’s full route back to the original stop at the station. Note: There is typically a long line.
After the tour we grabbed dinner at the Yavapai Tavern just southwest of the Visitor’s Center (within the Park, NOT where the IMAX is). Great food, relatively long wait times. After another great night at our dome, we got up relatively early to head back to Las Vegas via Route 66! We entered Route 66 at Seligman and stopped at a fun kitschy store! I highly recommend throwing on the Disney Cars Soundtrack and enjoying the drive!