What surprised me about arriving in the South Rim was that unlike most national parks I’ve visited, you can’t see anything until you’re right on top of it. The Smokey Mountains start to appear in the distance. Old Faithful and the many steam vents in Yellowstone shoot water into the air miles high. The sand dunes of White Sands National Monument are somewhat visible from the road. Not so with the Grand Canyon.
So the first thing I did after fighting my way through thousands of people for a parking space was go straight to Mather Point, one of the most popular viewing points just a few yards from the Visitor’s Center. I was immediately stopped in my tracks and shocked into silence as I just gaped at what was before me.
The best way I can describe my initial reaction is that it seemed too beautiful to be real, like somehow I had managed to step into a picture. All I could think of was that somehow the chalk scene from Mary Poppins had come to life and how I wished I had someone to share that moment with.
Everywhere I looked there was something new to see, more unique, vibrant colors than I could have imagined possible in a canyon. I knew the canyon was going to be ginormous (hence the name “Grand”) but it’s one thing to know the facts, figures, lengths, etc., and it’s something totally different to actually peer down and not be able to see the end, to look down and see little dots of people on mules heading to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom.
I could have stood there forever, jostling for position along the rail with the other tourists possibly for hours, but I knew I had limited time at the Canyon and lots more to see.
Next up…the campground mini adventure!