Alas, our final stop of our epic out west adventure (well not final final, we may have spent a luxurious night in Vegas before heading home). The Grand Canyon! Did you know the average person that visits the Grand Canyon spends only 17-25 minutes viewing it? How pathetic is that!! This was one of those place we were super excited to see but also hesitant because of the sheer amount of tourists we knew we'd have to endure. After some research it became pretty clear the place to visit to avoid the crazy was the North Rim which blew our expectations out of the water! Not only was the canyon incredible, it was quiet and calm and far better than we ever imagined. We had zero plans for where to camp or what to do when we arrived but we knew we wanted some sort of back country site if at all possible. This was going to be our last night camping and we wanted to make it memorable. We stopped at the back country office to see what was open and to get a permit. The ranger there was so incredibly helpful. She explained the options, how far the hikes were and what the terrain would be like. While we both loved the idea of hiking down into the canyon, we were both pretty shot from two weeks of hiking and opted for a site that overlooked the canyon about 4 miles in called Widforss Point.
Prior to hiking out for the night we checked out a few of the shorter jaunts, as well as the lodge. Let me just tell you, if you aren't into camping, the lodge was amazing! We enjoyed a brew overlooking the canyon and made sure to check out the breakfast menu before taking off. We did a short hike down to the Coconino Overlook which was a good taste of what it would be like hiking down into the canyon. Even though we didn't make it all the way down, it was a trek getting back up and definitely confirmed that we made the right decision for that night.
After a few other pit stops we took off towards camp. The hike was nothing short of incredible, dipping in and out of the trees and popping out right on top of the canyon. The campsite itself was more than we could have imagined. There are only 2 passes given for that area and there are no campsites, just areas where you can see others have camped before because they are relatively flat and clear of rocks. There was one other camper out there who kept to himself and slept most the time. We were set up right above the overlook so we could peak out the tent and see the canyon. I don't honestly even know how to put into words the experience of being out there alone with the Grand Canyon watching the sun set and rise and listening to nature. I could not envision a better way to end our adventure. . . .until we made it back for breakfast at the lodge and they had gluten free pancakes. BEST. BREAKFAST. EVER. And I got to poop in an outhouse as opposed to a hold in the ground but I think the pancakes trumped that. . . maybe.
If you want to visit the Grand Canyon, do yourself a favor and avoid the crowds and go to the North Rim. There were hikes for all skills and amenities for whatever you comfort level and there were very few crazy tourists. It was peaceful, calm, serene and overwhelmingly beautiful. Plan more than one night, pick more than a few hikes, chat with the regulars (we met the best Grand Canyon "groupies"), stay more than 17 minutes and by all means, GET THE GLUTEN FREE PANCAKES!!!