Winter Adventures Grand Canyon National Park
By Candyce H. Stapen
In winter when the crowds thin at the Grand Canyon, AZ, one of the U.S’s. best–known national parks, the spectacular landscape seems to loom even larger. If you have visited the park in spring or summer when tourists stand shoulder-to-shoulder, then be sure to return in winter to experience the vistas without the crowds. In winter too, on-site lodging costs less and is easier to book than during summer’s high season.
In winter the sun still strikes the Grand Canyon’s rock walls, turning them pink and orange in the morning and deep blue and purple in the evening. Even though in winter some trails and typically the north rim close, the south rim is easier to appreciate without hordes of visitors.
In winter the deer, emboldened by the lack of people, came up to us in front of El Tovar, the historic lodge. And, we were even able to book a room at this popular lodge for a rate we were willing to pay. Along the South Rim, the flat 2.7 mile nature trail that leads to Maricopa Point with its vistas of the Colorado River typically remains passable and easy to walk. Depending on the weather, the Bright Angel Trail, the popular inner canyon path, may be doable for at least a short distance. Sometimes the trail can be too icy for a safe descent.
Our clear, cold day bonus: a flightseeing tour of the canyon. In winter with fewer planes and helicopters buzzing the walls, we felt safer. The distant, snow topped ridges sparkled in the sun, adding to the dramatic aerial views of the inner canyon.
Throughout winter, as well as in summer, the Grand Canyon Field Institute offers Learning and Lodging Adventures designed to offer an intimate experience that adds to your understanding and appreciation of the park. Winter’s adventures features two days of guided hiking and touring led by a park naturalist. Learn about the park’s wildlife in winter, its history and native people as you hike safely along trails with guides.
The adventure, which includes two nights lodging, two breakfasts, two box lunches and one dinner, costs, from November 6, 2009 to March 2, 2010, $375.24 for one adult; $626.64 for two adults and for each child 10 and older (the minimum age), $226.42 Contact the Grand Canyon Field Institute to book a Learning and Lodging Adventure and contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts for lodging at the Grand Canyon.