Monday, 12 July 2010
I am a regular follower of another geological blog called 'Geotripper' by a guy called Garry Hayes, a teacher of geology at Modesto Junior College in the USA and enjoy dipping into his prolific, enlightening and entertaining 'geoblogs'.
But a recent blog rather took me by surprise. Entitled "Ten Overrated Places to See Before You Die...Part Two" , imagine my shock on finding that the subject of this award, was Grand Canyon South Rim!!!
What? Are you mad? Before I comment further, take a look at his post here.
Grand Canyon at dawn from Bright Angel Lodges.
Overrated? I really don't think so!
(Photo by Alyn)
What Garry is referring to is 'the South Rim experience' and to a degree he is right. With around 277 miles of canyon to play with, tourist access is limited to only a few select places. As a visitor myself in 2008, I was surprised and I must say relieved to find that there is little in the way of development of Grand Canyon. As I understand it there are the lodges and apartments at Grand Canyon Village, a smaller development on the North Rim and also Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. Other than a few camp sites, that is about it and thank heavens for that say I. Can you imagine the horror of a multitude of 'Grand Canyon Skywalks' or similar crass developments littering this beautiful place?
So, Grand Canyon National Park saw fit to channel the tourist invasion into this one place. But is the whole South Rim experience spoiled as a result? Well, I can only relate my own experience. As a citizen of the UK, the trip over to Arizona constituted the 'trip of a lifetime' and yes, was on my list of those essential "places to visit before you die". What I wanted was a way for my family and my mother-in-law to stay as close to the Canyon as possible and at the very least get a feel for this wonderous place.
From L-R: Diane, Amy, Me, Ruth and Anna-Ruth outside our Bright Angel Lodge
(Photo by Alyn)
Well, we stayed in the magnificent Bright Angel Lodges, literally only yards from the Canyon edge. And just a short walk away is the Bright Angel Restaurant where the most magnificent breakfast in the world awaits! One simply cannot 'overrate' their breakfast potatoes, sourdough toast and endless coffee, no Sir!
But I do understand where Garry is coming from. Sure, hoards of camcorder wielding folks hop off the bus in their droves, gaze over the canyon edge, pose for the obligatory photo with canyon backdrop, say "Gee, isn't it lovely" and then hop back on the bus and head for Vegas. For many, that is it. An afternoon's hop along the South Rim viewpoints, a photo at each and prescious little else.
Evening bus tour of the South Rim viewpoints
(Photo by Alyn)
But for so many more, a visit to the South Rim of Grand Canyon is just the start of a whole lot more. As Gary points out, it is impossible to grasp the sheer magnitude of Grand Canyon just by standing at the edge and looking over. When you look at just the Kaibab Limestone layer for example and realise that this layer alone is about 300 feet thick, you may then get an appreciation of the scale a little. So I am left with a longing to revisit and take a hike through at least a part of it. One day my friends, one day . . .
For countless others, they do just that. Hikes, canyon raft trips, camping etc, etc. So in my view, the Grand Canyon South Rim experience can serve as an introduction to the Grand Canyon. For some it is nothing but a single day out. But for many others though it can be a life changing experience and prove to be the start of something special, be it an appreciation of geology or even the feeling of being a little closer to God.
Cheers for now!