One of the Christmas boys, Gene, came to visit while on a work trip in the US and stayed at our house. We booked a full day bus tour to the Grand Canyon as part of his visit. T, Gene and I got up at the asscrack of dawn on the 9th of November and headed to the Las Vegas Strip meeting point. (There was some waiting for other people and technically, the journey only took 3 hours.)
The Grand Canyon is huge and the part nearest to Las Vegas is the West Rim (in Arizona) and also within the Hualapai Nation Native American Reserve. What we learnt is that, anything within these grounds are outside of the US Government’s jurisdiction and I think it’s cool that lands have been returned to them. Interesting tidbit: T’s father has enough Native American blood in him that he can live in a Reservation if he wants to. His Choctaw ancestry comes by way of a great grandmother on his mother’s side (T’s paternal grandfather is of pure German lineage.)
Did you know that geologists are still debating about how old the Grand Canyon is? Some say it is 40 million years old and there are new studies which points to it being much older at 70 million years.Our tour was interesting, the bus driver who’s also the guide, filled the journey with a lot of very interesting facts about Las Vegas and the Hualapai Nation. Being a Colorado native, our guide also said she felt a certain connection with the Grand Canyon as it is part of the Colorado River basin – also something about the West Rim being the better place to see the Grand Canyon because you can actually see the river.
So anyway, I read that the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has always been more popular. But with the new addition of the Skywalk, visitorship has increased significantly. The Skywalk essentially is a structure that overhangs on a cliff and has a glass bottom so you can walk on it and look into the canyon. There are already many parts of the Canyon that are exposed and without any railings or barriers (be very very careful especially on windy days), plus the fact that we each paid over USD100, we really didn’t want to pay extra to do the walk.
To be honest, I thought this trip was a little too pricey. Also, children pay full price – USD119! So a family of 4 effectively spend about USD500 for this day trip as there’s also gratuity of $10-15 per person. I did appreciate that it was an all-inclusive tour – transport, breakfast danish, a bottle of water, lunch and entry tickets, but I thought a fair amount would be about USD65 – 70 instead.
Our entry tickets for the reserve also included shuttle busses that took us to a old-style Western town (touristy and kinda fun), Guano Point and Eagle Point. We had 4 hours to travel from point to point, do short hikes, take lots of pictures and eat the food that came with our coupon before heading back to Las Vegas. If you think that 4 hours is too long to be spending at this place, you’re wrong! With the 3 of us, we just about had enough time! We did take 2 extra rounds on the shuttle bus because we wanted to return to the 1st stop to eat after we checked out all 3 spots. Food was decent and filling at the fake cowboy town (the long queue was bad at Eagle Point and at there were only sandwiches at Guano Point).
On our way back to Las Vegas, there was also a short 10-15 minute stop at the Hoover Dam but because the sun was already setting, there wasn’t much to see. We also didn’t have tickets to enter the Visitor Center or areas other than where the bus could park. I would really like to do a tour some day though.
There’s so much to see and do. T said that he’s been to the South Rim and he thinks he likes it a lot better. This means that with our new Jeep Wrangler, we’ll be taking more roadtrips and driving there ourselves in the near future! YAY! Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, we’re coming back for you!