Naturally being the nature, adventure, and national/state park fanatic that I am, when I started planning my spring break the first place that came to mind was the Grand Canyon.
This past summer I volunteered on an organic farm in southeastern Utah and fell in love with the southwest. As a New Englander, I often feel like that part of the country is so incredibly different than the landscape, geography, and culture that I’m used to. It’s exciting to be in a place so opposite than where I’m from and the southwest is just that. The blue, snow-topped mountains naturally and perfectly framed by the red rock and canyons are absolutely breathtaking and a sight everyone should try to see in their lifetime. Needless to say, the southwest has a certain beauty and magnetism that is unparalleled and the Grand Canyon is no exception.
Because I went during spring break (and if you are planning on making a trek there during that time too), the only area that is open is the South Rim. The North Rim opens in May but is still covered in snow during spring break (and I can’t wait to make another trip to see that part of the park in the summer). Although it is March (and got down to a cold 13 degree average at night), the Grand Canyon was still bustling and populated – with the shuttle buses having extensive waiting lines to get back and forth from the major trails – The South Kaibab and Bright Angel. Although the beginnings of these trails were quite busy and well-trafficked, the further down you go, the less people you see. If you are a confident hiker and think you can hike close to or to the bottom of the canyon, I highly recommend it.
The hikes are challenging but absolutely worth it. In the summer the desert weather will be taxing but the springtime temperature eased the challenge of the hikes considerably. The scenery also makes the physical challenge and strain significantly worth it. Even on the toughest ascents, the 360 view left me speechless and reinvigorated to seek more adventure, more new experiences, and more wanderlust. My spirit for adventure was re-instilled with each step I took on the hike. The deep canyons, desert wildlife and vegetation, bright blue skies and its colorful contrast to the rock and southwestern landscape, and stretch of the Colorado River made the setting unforgettable.
If you are thinking about visiting the Grand Canyon, I highly recommend staying for at least four days and camping overnight – in the designated campgrounds (where you’ll need to make a reservation in advance) or the backcountry (where you’ll need a permit). Staying overnight will ensure that you see the most that you can and immerse yourself fully in the environment around you. The park is too big to only spend a day in and some of the hikes require a committment of several days.
There was a part of me that was honestly hesitant to go to the Grand Canyon because of how touristy and popular it is but once I got there, I understood why. And the scenery and natural beauty made me forget about the annoyance of tourism. Everything about the Grand Canyon – from the campsites to the hikes are spectacular. Actually, there are no words to describe its beauty and that’s okay. You’ll just have to go to experience it yourself.