Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Hip + Urban Girl's Guide to The Grand Canyon

Helllooooo hellooooo hellloooooo (echo....echo...echooo...) from The Grand Canyon! I have always wanted to see this natural wonder up close and all personal-like, so a Route 66 road trip detour was in order. After a 2.5 hour drive from Sedona, I was enveloped in Canyon-goodness along the south rim trail. It's hard to wrap my head around the vastness of the space, but it was incredibly calm and peaceful to see how untouched and beautiful it really was. If you're thinking of planning a trip one day yourself, here are a couple tips we have to share with you:
Where To Stay - Options were pretty limited, so we opted for a room at The Best Western Squire Inn ($130/night) which is in the nearby town of Tusayan. It wasn't anything fancy, but sort of the most affordable option and the price includes a decent buffet breakfast spread.
If you're able to book a room ahead of time in The Grand Canyon Village, try El Tovar Hotel (From $180/night) to see if they have any availability at all. It's an old historic lodge with lots of character with a four-star rating. 

Where To Eat - If you can't find a room at El Tovar, at least stop in for lunch an have a look around. I had a pretty good Local Natural Navajo Taco on handmade fry bread for only $10.50 and it was HUGE. 
For more casual eats, venture over to The Bright Angel Lodge Luncheonette counter where they do take-out bratwurst sausages (that actually looked good!), sandwiches and ice cream. In Tusayan, it's mainly touristy fast-food but we did luck out with Plaza Bonita. Great big American portions, above average (although cheesy) Mexican food that's open late.
The Colorado River runs through the bottom of The Grand Canyon. I would LOVE to do a whitewater rafting tour through this one day.
It's a looooong way down
The day we visited, The Grand Canyon was incredibly smokey because of the prescribed fires they were burning overnight at the bottom of the canyon. Throughout the day the smoke rises up and slowly dissipates. For the clearest view, go back at sunset and you can appreciate all of the different colours in the canyon.
The line through the middle of this picture is part of The Bright Angel Trail, which you can use to hike down to the bottom over 6-8 hours. Just remember, it takes double the amount of time to climb back up. We didn't attempt it this time around, but we did see a few brave people making the trek with the intention of camping overnight.
We hiked mainly along a paved trail that ran along the south rim of The Grand Canyon. It was a pretty easy walk with water stations and restrooms along the way. In a cool eco-twist, the National Park Service does not sell bottled water but offers refilling stations of local spring water for reusable containers. Admission to the park is $25/car and the pass is good for seven days.  I recommend booking a place to stay for at least one night and spending two full days hiking around the park.
Our friends at TomTom were nice enough to hook us up with a GPS for the duration of our Route 66 road trip. If you're travelling outside of Canada, data rates are astronomical! I recommend getting your hands on a GPS, so you can save yourself some cash next time you are driving through the US. 
We found the Start 45 ($119.95) easy to use and accurate 95% of the time. Just make sure you hook it up to your laptop for an update. My only complaint is that I found it difficult to attach to the holder that mounts on your window. You need two hands and a lot of patience. Other then that, the TomTom lets you know how long before you reach your destination and where the closest gas station is - which is helpful on an epic road trip like this one. It even shows you ahead of time with a big flashing arrow, which lane you should be getting into.
We'll be writing more updates and travel journals from the road. Our drive home to Canada begins December 20th
For all of our Route 66 updates follow along here:

See you soon!  --- Lisa Ng

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