Last look: Grand Canyon

Monday, February 26th, 2007 | All Things, Travel

Our final day started well before dawn, as we dragged ourselves achily from our toasty beds to catch the sun’s rise over the Canyon. The Park sponsors a “Surnrise” bus tour, but J and I decided to explore for ourselves.

We bundled up with our warmers — thanks SYB! — and set out onto Hermit Road, which leads 8 miles west from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit’s Rest. From March through November, the road is closed off to private vehicles, but in February, we had the rare opportunity to make our own way there without the shuttle bus. Mile for mile, this stretch of road has the greatest concentration of breathtaking viewpoints in the park — each more remote and spectacular than the last. Along the way, there are eight overlooks: Trailview, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, The Abyss, Pima Point, and Hermit’s Rest. The official tour stopped as far west as Hopi, so beyond that point, we had the views practically to ourselves.

Hermit’s Rest is the westernmost stop on the South Rim and lies at the end of Hermit Road. It was constructed originally as a rest stop along the stage line to El Tovar. Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter designed this National Historic Landmark structure in 1914 to blend with its natural setting — a stone building set just a few feet from the rim edge, and tucked into a small man-made earthen mound.

The building now houses a snack bar and gift shop — both shuttered for the season. In fact, save for a couple of Arizona gray squirrels, we were alone.

Hermits Rest

Canyon Sunrise

At Powell Point, the site of a memorial to Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, who, in 1869 with a party of nine men, became the first person to navigate the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Powell Point

After our morning trek, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast — J’s long-anticipated French toast — at the Bright Angel Lodge. Back at the Maswik, we packed up our things, and hit the road for the scenic drive back to Phoenix. Until next time, Grand Canyon!

Canyon Sunrise

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