Monday, September 16, 2013

Grand Canyon Adventure, Part 8: We Didn't Have to Hike!

In case you missed it:  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7


On our final full day at the South Rim, when we woke up and realized we didn't have to hike, Mr. Helen and I high-fived!  As athletic as he is, even he had tired legs at this point.  It was Little Helen's first birthday gift to him as this day was his birthday.

We started our day by having a nice breakfast and once again, enjoying that gorgeous view.   It still feels dreamlike that this is what we saw when we walked outside of the lodge.

After breakfast, we wanted to visit the Hopi House, Bucky O'Neill Cabin, Lookout Studio, and Kolb Studio, all within walking distance of the lodge.

The Hopi House was one of eight projects designed by architect Mary Coulter, whose passion was to make sure that the buildings she designed fit into the surrounding landscape.  It was built as a concession so that Native Americans would have a place to sell their wares.  So, SHOPPING! I bought the cutest handmade Elk ornament for our Christmas tree, but the building itself is very cool too.

The Buckey O'Neill Cabin was built on the South Rim before the Grand Canyon was a National Park.  It is the oldest surviving historic structure.  At one point it was used as a tourist office, but eventually was incorporated into the Bright Angel Lodge facilities and yes, you can actually stay there if you'd like.  I'm not sure I would based on how many people I saw stopping to take photos (guilty!).

Lookout Studio almost hangs over the edge of the Canyon.  It is also used as a gift shop and there is a terrace with telescopes.  The views are amazing and it was really fun to look back and see our lodge!

The larger building is El Tovar, the grand dame of South Rim accommodations.  Our lodge is the lower buildings to the right.

Emery and Ellsworth Kolb were some of the first people to video and photograph the Grand Canyon and Colorado River.  They were complete daredevils and the exhibit inside Kolb Studio tells their story. It is also a book store and has other revolving exhibits.  I'm glad we saw this after all of our hikes because it really made me appreciate what they did and went through to document the Canyon.

This is their actual canoe that they ventured on the Colorado River with. It's leather!

Even after seeing all that, we couldn't resist going on one of the two trails that are accessible via the shuttle bus system or by driving, and cover the South Rim from west to east.  Today, we decided to sight see on the South Rim Trail.  It runs from the South Kaibib Trailhead to Hermit's Rest, is approximately 13 miles long, has 13 overlook points, and most important, is mostly flat! The only way to get to the beginning of this trail is to take the shuttle bus or ride a bike.  Once you're at the beginning, you can choose to either walk the entire trail - most of it is paved with one small stretch of packed dirt - or hop on and off the shuttle buses.  Each stop offers a slightly different view of the canyon and there are historic plaques and markers that describe what you are seeing and what to look for.  We did a combination of shuttling and walking between the lookout points.  We figured between our morning visits and this trail we probably walked another 5 miles this day, but again, mostly flat!  I am not going to describe each point, I am just going to show some photos that shout Grand Canyon.

This gives you an idea of what the lookout points were like.  See how nicely paved?  And everything was so clean. Mr. Helen loved his binoculars - I don't think they left his hand for 8 days!

Notice there are no rails behind us?  There were lots of areas like that. And yes, there were dummies people who stood right at the edge or sort of dangled over.  


I love these next two photos.  Besides showing the Colorado River, you can see the variation of colors in the Canyon.

Ahhhh!  We got to see a helicopter taking supplies to Phantom Ranch

We made it to Hermit's Rest!

After reaching Hermit's Rest and looking around, we got back on the shuttle to go back to the lodge so we could rest up. This was a long day but we were trying to keep busy as we had a dinner reservation to celebrate Mr. Helen's birthday, but it wasn't until 9 p.m.!  Little Helen made that reservation 9 months before we went and that was the earliest seating they could give us.

Up next:  Celebrating and Saying Goodbye.


  1. O
    I know i keep saying it but I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SERIES.


  2. I am loving them too - but holy shizz I would NOT be able to go out on those look outs with no rails! I am afraid of heights as it is and I would fear I would fall over - no thanks!

    Definitely the trip of a lifetime! :D

    1. I'm afraid of heights too Biz but I just stayed away from the edge! Did you notice what purse I carried with me?

  3. Those pics you love so much? I love them too, they are beautiful. It looks like a postcard!

    I like the idea of the shuttle bus that you can hop on and off. Most European cities have those too and it's a great way to explore a city or in your case: the canyon.

    Too bad there's only one episode left of your amazing trip. I'm enjoying it so much.

  4. WOW!!!!!!! Great photos.
    I would be so far back from that unrailed edge....yikes.
    Thanks for sharing all these with us Helen. Love the series.