The Grand Canyon – Natural Wonder of the World

We left Holbrook, Arizona, after a breakfast of Kellogg’s Froot Loops at the  Ramada Inn.  Heading west on Hwy 40 toward Flagstaff, we came across this wonderful gem: The Geronimo Gift Shop.


This was a typical Northern AZ souvenir shop, full of rocks, Navajo Blankets, Indian trinkets, and petrified wood for the bargain price of $15 a pound. 


What set this place apart was the enchanting Tee-Pee village just outside.  The desert was rather flat in this area, and it seemed like each exit had its own souvenir shop. “The Jack Rabbit” looked like it could be interesting too.  The San Fransisco Peaks were coming into view the closer we got to Flagstaff.  

Our second stop was Walnut Canyon National Monument where we spent about 5 minutes.  We got the Passport to Your National Parks cancellation stamp and viewed the ruins at the bottom of the canyon from the Visitor’s Center window.


This monument is definitely worth a return trip to explore the trails in the canyon.  There were many pine trees here and it was more mountainous than the terrain near the Petrified Forest.

We saw our first big box stores since leaving Maine.  There was a Best Buy and a Home Depot right across the railroad tracks from the Purina Dog Food Factory which we could smell as we were driving by.  There was also a shopping mall and a Sears. 

We headed north on Route 89,  elevation 7200 feet and climbing.   We took a detour on NF 545 to Sunset Crater National Monument continuing toward Waputki National Monument. We got information and a passport stamp from the visitors center.  The lava flows from the valcano that blew its stack 1000 years ago were amazing.  There were many yellow wildflowers growing out of the volcanic ash.  



At Watupaki, we stopped at the visitors center for stamp #24.  We explored the pueblo, which was built right into some rocks within a mini canyon (not against the canyon walls like the other ruins we have exporered).  There were two circular ball fields, and a blow hole, which looked like a small well with air escaping. (The cave underneath actually breathes… air goes in and out of the cave depending on the outside pressure.)


We stopped for gas in Cameron at a place that looked like a refurbished Dunkin Donuts. The woman at the Walnut Canyon visitors center recommended stopping at the trading post in Cameron for lunch, but we decided to head directly to the canyon instead by turning on Hwy 64. Maybe next time.

Before long, there was a turn off for the Little Colorado River overlook. The Navajo indians charged $3.00 a person, so we did a u-turn and headed back on the road the Grand Canyon.  We stopped off at another turn off to check out the things that the Indians were selling to tourists.  One woman claimed she loved Maine, and her daughter went to college there (but she didn’t know the name of the college).

We arrived at the Grand Canyon at 1:00 Sharp.  We had lunch at a snackbar at the Desert View Overlook and got a stamp for the passport.  This is where I learned that there are SIX stamps for the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We then got our first view of the canyon. We explored the tower, which was actually pretty cool, but was full of busloads of screeching tourists.   Before leaving, I walked along a trail for a moment and was amazed how quiet and peaceful it was, away from the madhouse at the observation tower. 




The view from the top of the observation tower.


We visited a few of the turnoffs and it was quieter at these places.  GrandView was pretty crowded though.  We checked out El Tovar, Bright Angel Lodge, and the other visitors centers.  



The next time I visit, I would leave the car behind and take the buses.  It was a little too crazy for my tastes, but it was possible to find benches and space away from the crowds.  This visit was definitely an accelerated visit.  I would love to come back when I have more time and even hike to Phantom Ranch.  I reminisced riding the dory under the bridge for the Bright Angel Trail many years ago.

It looks like the total for National Park Passport stamps will be a whopping 32 for this vacation alone!

Leaving the park, we headed down Route 64 and saw elk and mule deer.  This route was a lot more lush than the route we took arriving into the park.  Just outside the park entrance are hotels, an IMAX Theater and an airport with dozens of helicopters to take tourists on canyon sightseeing tours.  There are also hotels at the junction of 64 and 180.

When we got to Williams, we saw the depot for the Grand Canyon Railway, as well as other 1950’s style hotels, diners and shops.  (This is historic Route 66… a lot of neon and flashing lights)   


After checking in at the Arizona 9 Motor Hotel, we headed down the street to “Cruiser’s Cafe Bar and Grill”. 


They featured outdoor seating and a live band, complete with a gal jamming on the drums with a huge flower in her hair. She looked just like Neicy on the TV show “Clean House”.   People were tootin’ their horns as they drove by.




What an awesome day… After seeing a natural wonder of the world, two National Monuments and driving 275 miles, winding up in a place like Williams was icing on the cake. 

Tomorrow we follow Historic Route 66 to Kingman, Arizona, across the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas for the final leg of our trip!


Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 5:14 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The Pics are Fabulous Narration superb Loving the back seat journey.You will be sharing your experiences with interested listeners for many moons.Fab jod

  2. We have a great buffet here in Phoenix….well, I think it’s technically Scottsdale or Tempe…but it’s the best outside SOME in Vegas. In fact, we’re going back with both our Mama’s Sunday!

    Eagle Buffet at Casino Arizona. Maybe I’ll take some pics and send them your way. It’ll put to shame the pics from that buffet you ate at last.

    Now, increase whatever the hottest you’ve encountered by about 20 degrees and that’s the summer months!

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