“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.” – John Wesley Powell
Of the million or so people who visit the Grand Canyon each year, most will see the Grand Canyon from their car or from walking around the public viewing areas along the South Rim. Expert visitors will tell you, to truly experience the Grand Canyon, you must leave the rim for there are sights and sounds at the bottom that simply cannot be replicated or even imaged from the top. There is a blanket of serenity as the modern world melts away with pockets of truly breathtaking beauty all along the way.
Those who choose to embark on an adventure to the bottom of the Canyon do so either by taking a mule tour down or hiking. Mule tours embark from the South Rim year round and must be booked 13 months in advance. Trips leaving from the North Rim do not go all the way to the river and, due to inclement weather, only operate and May through October. Hiking to the bottom of the canyon, of course, is a physical challenge in and of itself, but allows you a exclusive experience with nature (not to mention bragging rights)! Either way you travel, you will be rewarded with for their efforts with breathtaking views of vibrant blue-green waterfalls, rich and unique vegetation and an up close and personal encounter with one of the most power rivers in the world.
Both Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail lead to the bottom. The National Park Service does not recommend folks try hiking in and out of the Canyon in one day, so why not take a load off and stay overnight at the delightful Phantom Ranch?
Though about as basic as you can get, Phantom Ranch is more than just a welcome respite for the day’s exhausting adventures. It’s a community and a memorable experience. Reserve a meal at the lodge and you will be treated to a hot dinner likely consisting of a hearty strew, cornbread and the like while you eat family-style with other guests. Afterwards, the lodge is transformed into a social hall of sorts where people sit around playing board games, cards while throwing back a few cold ones. Retreat to your cabin or dormitory to rest your tired legs before the next day’s adventure.
Find Grand Canyon National Park Below the Rim lodging at these top properties
Phantom Ranch: After a long day’s hike or ride on the back of a mule, Phantom Ranch’s accommodations (though basic), will seem like paradise. And how could it not, when it is situated in one of the most beautiful natural settings on earth?