Last year, my husband decided that he wanted to hike the Grand Canyon to the bottom. We are in our 50s and he is afraid if he waits much longer, his knee will not make it (no ACL) We decided to plan a Spring trip based on the availability of rooms at Phantom Ranch. Reservation #888-297-2757. We called on March 15th, no rooms however, were available at the Ranch and we even had difficulty getting dinner reservations. We could not get dinners at the same sitting but originally, my husband was making reservations for 12. I am sure this would be much easier to plan for a smaller group.
Since they wanted to hike down in March or April, it was decided that they would camp at the Bright Angel Campground. I am a hiker but I was not interested in carrying all my camping gear. We really should have considered the duffle service-for $60/30lbs. a mule will carry your pack one way. Call the number above for this service.
We also made reservations for the El Tovar at www.xanterra.com.
I believe we applied for our permit to camp at Bright Angel in Oct. (928-638-0382 or 928-638-7888)
We confirmed our reservations for meals in January, 7 dinners and 7 5:30 a.m. breakfasts. Dinner choices are steak dinner or vegetarian at 5:00p.m. or stew at 6:30. Only the vegetarian and stew options were available in Jan.
I called the Wed. before our trip and was able to get 7 steak dinners ($35). These meals are reserved for the mule riders and become available if not needed. Some hikers were also able to get rooms at Phantom Ranch that week because of cancellations. Be sure to keep checking--the 2 women who hiked down with our group wished we had.
We had 5 couples in their 50s. 7 were hiking to the bottom. This would be the first backpacking experience for 4 of them. One had done the hike 3 years ago.
3couples flew into LV and hiked Zion and Bryce before meeting us at the Canyon. 2 couples flew into Phoenix.
My husband and I flew into Phoenix on an absolutely beautiful morning 3/29/07. We drove into Sedona for lunch--terrible traffic around the Hilton because of road construction. Planned on having lunch at Bistro Bella Terra--it's right on 89A--has a nice view-- but Mapquest sent us turning right on L'Auberge Rd.,(the Bistro was above us, across the street) my husband was starving, so we ended up eating at L'auberge. We were not impressed with our pricey lunch but the weather was fantastic. What a day to see the Grand Canyon.
We continued driving up through Oak Creek Canyon and looked forward to stopping at the viewpoints along the drive to the Canyon from the East Entrance. In about an hour though, we were in the middle of a snowstorm, fog, no visiblity, icy roads, iced up windshield wipers etc. We had been up since 4:30 a.m. (CO changed our 9a.m. flight to 7:30a.m.) Bummer.
We arrive at the El Tovar in time for our 5:00 dinner reservation--early reservation so that we could check out the sunset at about 6:50--no sunset viewing this night. We really enjoyed our dinner though--we divided the bill in 5ths, $100/couple with tip.
The El Tovar
Maybe it was my lowered expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised with the El Tovar rooms. We all had standard doubles ($134)and though small, they had all been refurbished. Mission style furniture, entertainment center with empty refrigerator, safe, drawers, tv. Nice Grand Canyon artwork (signed prints), updated bathroom with pedestal sink, good lighting, full length mirror, hairdryer, no mold anywhere, clean. We were very happy.
The location is great. Go out the door and walk the rim. Coffee and tea are served in the morning on their second floor lounge. A woman played the piano there every afternoon. The 3 wimpy hikers enjoyed a happy hour there and also ate lunch the first day there--we brought our own food in.
After dinner, we all headed to bed. We were meeting the next morning for breakfast at Bright Angel at 7:30 and would take the 9:00 hikers bus to the trailhead.
Next: Picture perfect day for hiking the Grand Canyon
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