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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Hiking Grand Canyon & Southern Utah Parks May 2014

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Thanks everyone for the advice when I was planning my trip last year. It seemed so far away then, and now it’s over! I visited the Grand Canyon and southern Utah parks May 1-15, solo, with hiking as my primary focus. Much of this came from my personal travel journal, and editing is not my strength. If you love details (I do!), read on! If you love pictures, all of mine are here: https://melgallery.shutterfly.com/pictures/1962

Overall impressions- words are inadequate to describe the scenery. Breathtaking all around. I need to be a park ranger in my next life, I think! I’m really in my element out there on the trails and still having withdrawal symptoms. This was also a perfect time to visit, in my opinion. Weather was lovely overall, and crowds were rarely an issue. It helps that I’m an early riser- usually on the trail by 8, which is the perfect hiking time anywhere if you ask me. Much more peaceful. And the flowers! I loved the contrast of so many different colors to the sand/stone. I can’t even fathom doing most of the hikes in summer heat, let alone with more people.

Day 1: East Coast to Las Vegas. I picked up the rental car and was on my way to the Grand Canyon. After all the negative reviews I read about Dollar from McCarran airport, I feel I should give a positive plug. I didn’t have one single problem with the company, and they had the cheapest rates by far for the ‘big name’ companies. I signed up for their express club, walked right by the lines, and right to my car- a Mitsubishi Calant.

The drive was about 4hrs with one glitch when I set off fraud alerts on two credit cards trying to purchase fuel near the Canyon. I arrived at the Village about 5:30 and expected parking to be difficult. It was VERY difficult! I ended up illegally parking in a handicapped spot near my room in Bright Angel lodge so I could run my bags in. I’d made a Target stop on the way to pick up supplies as well. Finally on the third circuit I snatched up a parking spot near Thunderbird lodge.

Energy was zero by then, so I just wandered around the lodge area for sunset, which was ok.

Day 2: An early start- caught the 5AM hiker’s shuttle to South Kaibab trail. The sun was already risen by the time I got there, but there was still a nice sun glow on the way down the trail. I hiked down to Cedar Ridge in about 30min and spent a nice 20min or so snacking and marveling at the scenery, including seeing the mule train go by. It took me another 1.5 hrs to get back up. I saw a big horn sheep on the trail and lots of peaceful Elk helping themselves to the water at the trailhead, unconcerned with the people. Seeing the busloads coming in, I was glad I started early.

After some Visitor Center shopping, I picked up lunch at the Marketplace and headed back to the room to relax a bit. After, I really enjoyed the native dance exhibition by Hopi House. I was tempted to stay and watch the next performance, but the Hermit’s Rest viewpoints awaited. I spent sunset at Mohave Point, which was quite nice and not crazy crowded. I regret not spending some stargazing time, but I was falling asleep standing up on the shuttle by then!

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