Grand Canyon Feature

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Grand Canyon Park Insider: Chuck Wahler

When Chuck Wahler tells people to "take a hike," he means it in the most helpful, encouraging sense. A longtime employee at Grand Canyon National Park, Wahler knows the lay of the land, and he encourages folks to get a feel for it on foot. A hike "either along the rim or into the canyon" ranks among his top "must-do" suggestions for park visitors.

As the former Chief of the Operations Branch for the park's Division of Interpretation and Resource Education, Wahler managed front-line operations for the division (he's now an instructor of park employees at the Albright Training Center). "The staff that works with me operates the park visitor centers and museums, and presents interpretive programs to our visitors," he explains.

Those programs include the popular "Junior Ranger" activities, which also make Wahler's must-do list: "If there are children in your group, have them participate."

Variety is the spice of park life, as far as Wahler is concerned, and the range of activities is his favorite thing about his workplace. "It is a constantly changing place," he says, "different from minute to minute, day to day, and season to season." That diversity inspires another suggestion: "Views of the canyon from along Hermit Road are very different from those along Desert View Drive," explains Wahler. "If you have the time, plan to experience both areas of the park."

Navigating the 1,904-square-mile park is a sizable task, but it's made easier by the free shuttle system. The buses stop at 30-some points of interest, and Wahler advocates hopping aboard whenever possible. "You'll spend more of your time exploring the park and less time looking for a place to park."

For another insider tip, he touts the park's aptly named newspaper. "The Guide provides visitors with all the basic information they need to plan their visit to the park. Taking a few minutes to read the newspaper will help make a visit more enjoyable." Distributed at the entrance station, The Guide is printed in English, French, German, Japanese, and Italian.

Wahler also urges travelers to consider coming during "the off-season" (late fall through early spring). "The weather can be delightful, and the park is often less crowded than in the summer."

No matter the season, Wahler's final must-do is a simple one: "Find a quiet place along the rim, and just sit and enjoy the canyon."

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