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11 February 2015

The Grand Canyon

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When I remember our time at the Grand Canyon, I find myself recalling the opening lines from the song “Grand Canyon” by the Drive-By Truckers:

“We went to Grand Canyon
and we stood at the expanse
and we watched the rocks change colors
and we watched the shadows dance
and we probably didn’t say anything as the sunset turned to night.
We let the spirits do the talking with cascades of faded light…”

I’m not trying to get all cheesy on you here, but if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, it’s simply not possible to relate the size, scope, and scale of the place. Hell, it’s pretty impossible to digest all those things standing right there on the edge of the rim. It is the grandest of grand places. It’s so large that its size is unfathomable. There are no visual reference points large enough to lend a sense of scale to it. In person it appears just as surreal as it does in photos like the one above. As I told Jeremy when we stood there, “It doesn’t even look real.”

We visited the Grand Canyon’s South Rim as part of our national parks tour on our honeymoon. We spent time hiking in the canyon, which we’ll go into in another post. This post is about what you see as you stand on the rim of the canyon as well as what the experience of being at the edge of this expanse is all about. Surreal. Crazy. Logic-defying. Even after spending time in the canyon and several days around the canyon, it still seemed so big and so mind-boggling to me. A majestic sight like this just never gets old for me.

When most people visit the Grand Canyon, they too visit the South Rim. This is where the majority of the official “park” (aka stuff people want to do) is located. This is the part of the canyon’s park that stays open year-round. The North Rim is closed several months of the year since it’s less developed and more prone to heavier snow. We visited in April and experienced a snow storm while there. We were actually snowed in an extra day. As you can see in the photo above, snow covers the top part of the rim. However, there was no snow in the Grand Canyon during our visit. The elevation change from the rim to the little patch of green that you see on the bottom left hand side is just over 4,000 feet. It’s much warmer down in the sunbaked bowl than it was up on the cold, drafty rim. The temperature difference between inside the canyon and the rims is 20º to 25º, on average. Quite the difference.

If you’ve not visited the Grand Canyon’s South Rim yet, it’s worth the trip. Especially if you’re someone who enjoys the great outdoors and a wide open natural scene. The experience was quite moving and dare I say nearly spiritual. While my visit to the Grand Canyon didn’t help me get a grasp on the size and scope of this natural wonder, it certainly gave me perspective on myself and how small I really am. This world is so big and beautiful and magnificent. There are so many amazing and awe-inspiring sights to behold. Standing at the expanse, I knew, that the Grand Canyon was the most humbling sight I’ve come across yet.

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  • I visited the Grand Canyon last year for the second time in my life (just take away my Arizona native card) and was also astounded by the magnitude of the formation. It really does stretch as far as the eye can see, and there are no words to describe how it feels to stand at the rim. Your post captured this perfectly. The Grand Canyon is such a treasure and I wish everyone had the opportunity to visit! Looking forward to your post about hiking it, since I’ve never done that part and am curious about what it’s actually like.

    • Thanks for your comment, Katherine! 🙂 Glad I’m not the only one who was so thoroughly blown away by the experience. 😉