In 2002 we did The Big Family Vacation, spending a few days on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We had a great time and made many good memories. When Bill and I arrived in Arizona slightly more than two years ago, one of my goals was to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and discover for myself how it compared with the North Rim.

This weekend was a three-day holiday weekend (Columbus Day on Monday), so it seemed like a good time to go before the cold and snow of winter. Bill took a day of from work on Friday and we headed north, stopping in Phoenix to see David’s new digs. We had a nice lunch together and then Bill and I headed north again, destination Williams, Arizona. Williams advertises itself as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” and one of its attractions is The Grand Canyon Railway. Buy your ticket and you can ride the train to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Williams also has preserved a stretch of Route 66 as a tourist attraction, complete with 50s-style diners.

Saturday we drove the hour to the South Rim and Grand Canyon Village. We parked the car at around 10:30 a.m. and never went back to it until about 5:30 p.m. Your entrance fee (only $25 per car for a week’s pass) allows one to ride the shuttle buses that take you to various destinations along the South Rim. It’s a great deal and so much nicer than worrying about driving and parking your car at every overlook. There are three different bus routes and we were able to do all three routes, plus eat lunch, during the six or so hours we were there. It is definitely the way to tour the South Rim!

One thing that always strikes me when we visit major tourist destinations such as the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls is the polyglot of languages one hears throughout the visit. On one of our shuttle buses, the driver inquired what countries people were visiting from, and on a bus that held perhaps fifty people, the following countries were represented: Canada, Mexico, Germany, France, Italy, India, Cambodia, Japan, and the United States. The Grand Canyon is so international that it publishes its maps and information newsletters in several languages.

Enough of the talk and on to the pictures!

The day began with a clear blue sky, but by the time these were taken, clouds were rolling in. And by the end of the day, it was mostly a gray sky and a cold wind. We were chilled to the bone by the time we headed for home.

The Grand Canyon Park is full of animals, of which these elk were just a few.

Looking down on the switchbacks of Bright Angel Trail, which is the most popular hiking trail in the park.

Here you can see the ultimate destination of Bright Angel trail, going down through the green of Indian Garden and out to Plateau Point.

The Colorado River flowing through the Grand Canyon.

I think this is my favorite picture of all!