Wednesday, 13 October 2010

It’s Better Than Grand!

Grand isn’t a good enough world to describe the Grand Canyon. It understates the magnificence of what nature can produce. I don’t use the word awesome much, but I will this time – the Grand Canyon truly is awesome.

When you first look over the rim, it takes your breath away. You simply stand there trying to take in all that lies before you. It is so big, it is difficult to comprehend the size of the place, as your eyes dart about trying to make sense of the cliffs, canyons and slopes.

We arrived late afternoon which was just about the perfect time as the canyon is much better seen either at sunrise or sunset, when the light is so much better than higher in the sky. These first few pictures were taken as the sun was setting....




























































We were lucky that we were staying right at the south rim, inside the park at one of the centrally located hotels in Grand Canyon Village. This meant we could walk back to the hotel in the dark and we were in for a wonderful surprise. Right next to the hotel were two bull Elk, eating the beautifully manicured grass! They were play rutting and it make for a spectacular sight. They soon lay down on the grass right next to some parked cars which I used as something to hide behind as I took a photo....
























The next morning I was up very early in order to be ready to catch the sunrise in the canyon. There was quite a lot of wildlife about, especially deer. I managed to get a few photos of them in the dim light before too many people appeared and frightened them away. I followed them into the trees....







































































This squirrel wanted in on the act as well....






















Getting up early paid dividends as the light was fantastic, with long shadows being cast....














































































Turning around and looking into the sun was worthwhile as well....


























That all sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Well, it was near to perfection despite, not because of, the people that run the park, the National Park Service. I have now visited quite a few National Parks all of which have been superbly well run. This one isn’t. The signage is terrible, meaning you get lost a lot, the bus service that they promote you to use doesn’t run often enough, certain areas you can only get to by bus and not in a private vehicle which would be okay but the bus service to some parts was suspended, major parts of the canyon rim were closed due to construction works and the recently resurfaced car parks are treacherous for anyone on a motorbike.

Any one of these points on their own are relatively minor, but added up, seeing the canyon properly is a real challenge. It was disappointing that we could see so much of the canyon we decided to splash out and see it from the air! We went on a helicopter tour and this was our transport.....


















Jackie in the helicopter just before we took off....




















Seeing the Canyon from the air is, well, FANTASTIC! You get to see so much more....





































































































































































We thoroughly enjoyed the flight and would recommend this to anyone. It isn’t cheap, but well worth saving your pennies for.

The next day we left the park by riding east along the canyon all the way to Desert View which is the most easterly point that the road runs next to the canyon....









































































































Going to see the Grand Canyon has to be one of the highlights of the tour so far, so I have added it to my favourites list!

14 comments:

Geoff James said...

Gary:
Your photos are stunning but for me, the two simplest ones are the best of the lot. The old weathered tree stump and the canyon edges in what are basically varying shades of monochrome - now they are sheer class!

Beck said...

Your pictures are absolutely breathtaking. I am glad you got to enjoy it with Jackie. Obviously the wildlife are used to tourists. My visit was almost 40 years ago but I still remember how "grand" it truly is to see. Thanks for sharing.

FLHX_Dave said...

Wholly Crap! I'm cryin' right now. Just awesome!

George F said...

I was there a few years ago and it really is amazing. I didn't have time to venture down, did you try going down one of the paths? You have beautiful pictures. You are doing my dream trip, keep posting the beautiful photos :-)

Canajun said...

Spectacular scenery and great photos. I've only seen it from the air, having flown over countless times. But next Vegas trip will definitely include a side trip (by helicopter if I can get the missus to do it again. She was terrified at Ayers Rock and so might need some persuading) to the Grand Canyon.

motoroz said...

You are so right - Grand does not do the Canyon justice. Your photos really takes me back to my visit about 18 years ago. You do a great job with your photos. Sorry to hear that the buses did not do the park a good job. I bet the helicopter flight was awesome. Thanks for all the pictures.

Mike said...

Very nice photos Gary! I would imagine the helicopter ride gives more of a feeling of being in the canyon. Those photos are stunning and I agree with Geoff, the one looking back towards the sun is fantastic! Thank you!

SonjaM said...

Stunning pictures. I have been there twice, and did the Helicopter tour twice, too. Even 'awesome" doesn't do the Grand Canyon justice. Watching the sun rise and sun set over the rim is a lifetime experience. Now I have to get out my pics and vids to revisit my travels. Thanks again for keeping my memories alive.

bluekat said...

Simply amazing. Beautiful series of photos. The late afternoon light really defines the contours of the canyon. Helicopter ride - what a great way to see the canyon.

Axel said...

Really great pictures, specially when viewed in large size. Recommend every reader to click on them to view in high resolution.
Never been there, and doubt I will ever make it, but this helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon is clearly a candidate for my very own bucket list.

Lady Ridesalot said...

Great pictures Gary! My hubby brought home some beautiful ones as well while on a boys trip to the Grand Canyon a couple years ago. He keeps telling me we will go back when I can ride out too. I just need to get some big vacation time. I simply can't wait!

Charlie6 said...

Thanks for the slew of "awesome" photos Gary! I've often wondered about the helicopter flights and if they were worth it.....now if they could just slingload a Ural underneath them..... : )

dom


Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

Eve said...

NICE!!! Thanks Gary...love the morning photos! Taking a helicopter there is like paying the big bucks to pass by the line to go to the top of the Empire State Building...it sure makes you feel like a King!!! Worth the money for sure!

Gary France said...

Geoff – Thanks. I like the simple ones as well.

Beck – Thank you. Yes, the wildlife are very used to the tourists, or should I say us tourists?

Dave – Sorry about the crying. Awesome, yes. What a place.

George – No we didn’t go down into the canyon. Thanks for your kind words.

Canajun – I hope she agrees to go. Wait a minute, you can go while she relaxes doing something else!

Oz – I am glad my pictures reminded you of what you saw all those years ago. I bet it hasn’t changed much!

Mike – Thanks. The helicopter ride lets you see so much more than you do from the rim.

Sonja – Thanks. You are lucky to have seen it twice, both times in a helicopter. I am pleased I awakened those memories for you.

bluekat – Thank you. The light changes so much over a day, it makes a heck of a difference to the photos.

Axel – Enlarging them does help. I hope you do get to see the canyon. It is one of those things that is worth planning a trip around.

Lady R – Oh, I hope you do get to ride there! The whole area is stunning!

Charlie6 – I am sure that could be arranged.....

Eve – Definitely worth the money. For the helicopter and the Empire State Building!