26 October 2014
A glimpse of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim
Today we are going to see The Grand Canyon with Grayline Tours, leaving the state of Nevada and crossing to Arizona. Firstly we were collected from our hotel (at 7am!) and driven to the headquarters of Grayline where we were briefed on what would be happening during the day, and dividing up the passengers who were going to the West Rim of the Canyon, and those going to the South Rim (that’s us!). The Americans are great sales people, so we were also told how we could “upgrade” to a helicopter ride over the Canyon ($199), a Pink Jeep ride on the floor of the Canyon, or an IMAX movie at lunch time. We upgraded to the IMAX movie, but otherwise were content to just see the Grand Canyon!
The coach was very comfortable, the driver knew his stuff, and we had videos and audios throughout the tour about the different places we would see. On the way to the Canyon (round trip from Las Vegas is about 1000 kms) we stopped to see the engineering masterpiece of the Hoover Dam once known as Boulder Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada.It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named after President Herbert Hoover.
Looking over the Hoover Dam from the Bypass Bridge
Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. The dam is located near Boulder City, Nevada a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction; nearly a million people tour the dam each year. The heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam’s crest until October 2010, when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened.
For those interested in the massive engineering works involved you can read about it here
By now it was time for morning tea so our drive found us a McDonald’s at Kingman (in the middle of the desert!) so we could have a break before moving on. Driving through the Mojave Desert was interesting, watching the different flora, and the mountains always in the background. As we neared the Canyon the vegetation became more sparse, and the stately pine trees had disappeared. Once we arrived at the National Geographic Centre we had time to organise lunch on a tray so we could go into the IMAX theatre to learn more about the creation of the Grand Canyon.
Fabulous rock formations, and colours as the sun begins to set on the Grand Canyon
And soon we were there…….from photographs it is difficult to realise the massiveness of the canyon, we felt like tiny ants in such an environment. We had been told that on the South Rim the canyon is 10 miles wide and one mile deep, the sheer cliffs were amazing. Our first stop was Mather Point, one of the most popular photographic spots. Next we went to Bright Angel where the first resort was built (some of it still standing) and the more modern resort built on the rim of the Canyon – great views!
Part of the original accommodation at Bright Angel lookout (left) and the new resort perched on the rim of the canyon
We had time for an icecream from the shop, and at it while looking over the canyon, great feeling. Then back on the bus for the long trip home, stopping at McDonald’s for dinner. The sunset was so beautiful as we headed back to Las Vegas, and by the time we dropped everyone off to their hotels and arrived back at the Venetian it was about 11.30pm – time for bed! Tired, but an exhilarating day!