We woke up bright and early on this day and hit the ground running. Our goal was to tour the Southern Rim starting at Mather Point and head all the way to Bright Angel Lodge. You can see on this map, the location of Yavapai Lodge where we were staying, and the Visitor Center/Mather Point where we were starting.
Here are some photos of the area around the Visitor Center:
They had tons of bikes to rent here!
The Visitor Center:
I can honestly say, I have seen pictures of the Grand Canyon, and had an image in my head, but nothing really prepares you for the real thing! That first look once getting to the edge is AMAZING!
If you look closely in this one, you can see a condor sitting on the rock!
I walked around to the next lookout so I could get closer.
I took so many photos, and just choosing a small sampling to share here.
There were so many amazing spots to look out over the canyon.
I did have my good camera with me, so was able to zoom in to some things further down into the base of the canyon.
It was starting to get really hot. We made it to Verkamp’s Visitor Center and ate our packed lunch. It was at this point that some decided to continue on to the Bright Angel Trail to go down into the canyon some. The girls and I did not. We hopped on the shuttle bus to head back to the market to shop, and then to rest in the room until dinner time.
While on the shuttle bus, we did see some deer and elk.
After a nice rest in the room, we got ready for dinner. We were heading into the closest town of Tusayan, which was about 7 miles away. We Cook Pizza and Pasta was where we ended up. It was pretty crowded, but it didn’t take long to get our food.
It was all really good and we were happy with our choice! After dinner, we went back to Mather Point to watch the sunset.
Next up was a Star Party! We just happened to be here during the time period for this special event.
I was super excited for this. When we were in Hawaii, the telescopes were my favorite part! After the special guest speaker, we were able to look through 50 different telescopes to see different stars, galaxies, satellites, etc. IT WAS AMAZING! As it got later into the night, you could clearly see the Milky Way.
This photo was taken with my phone and the best I could get of the stars!
Next up is our tour of Antelope Canyon! And definitely a highlight of our whole entire trip.
I am so sorry this has taken me so long to get started! We went straight from our trip out west, to a week at the beach!
My first post is going to be all about June 19th…the first day of our trip. When we first got this trip in our heads, it was very overwhelming. “Out west” could include so many different National Parks, as well as various other stops along the way. I knew for sure some of what I definitely wanted to do. Here’s our first full day recap:
June 19th: Flew into Phoenix, AZ, rented a car, and drove to Yavapai Lodge located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I also want to mention a vital piece of our entire vacation…the GyPSy Guide. It’s a paid app that includes interesting and informative commentary that plays automatically as you drive. There are different areas where these tours are available. I purchased the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim and the Yellowstone/Grand Teton combo. I honestly don’t know how people tour without this! It was amazing!
Our flight was on Southwest Airlines departing at 5:30 a.m. from Philadelphia to Phoenix, connecting in Chicago. We left home around 2:15 a.m. to park and get shuttled to the airport. For this trip, we used Jet Stream Parking. I have used them numerous times in the past because they seem to be the most economical when comparing pricing. They usually offer a coupon which is listed directly on the home page of their website. Our flights were $205 per person on the way out and parking was $155.00.
Our flight went off without a hitch. We had some time during our layover in Chicago so got some breakfast. We then landed in Phoenix with no issues either around 10:00 a.m. Once landing and hitting baggage claim, we made our way outside to the shuttle that takes you to the rental car location. All of the rental car companies are located in one big building. (not connected to the airport)
Our rental car was through Budget. The rental car market is tough right now! If you are planning a trip where you need to rent a car, do it as soon as possible! Prices have gone up, inventory has gone down, and there are even some locations that will not let you pick up at one location and drop off at another. I can also book rental cars for you, so just contact me! Our car was reserved for June 19th pick up in Phoenix until June 28th drop off in Bozeman. The cost was about $1300.00 not including gas! We had no issue picking up the car and getting on the road.
Our drive from Phoenix to the Yavapai Lodge was 3.5 hours. We went through Flagstaff and stopped for groceries there, as it was much cheaper than purchasing from the market in the Grand Canyon National Park. We bought some things for breakfasts and to pack lunches. Granola bars, apples, oranges, bread, turkey, cheese, tortillas, bananas, gallons of water, chips, zip loc bags, paper towels. I had also brought along a Thirty-One Thermal to pack our lunches for the days while we were in the parks. It was perfect because it was collapsible and fit inside our luggage. I strongly encourage you to research your routes prior to going on your own trip out west! I joined some Facebook groups for tips and to read trip reports.
After making a stop for lunch at Culvers, we got back on the road and arrived at Yavapai Lodge around 4:30 p.m. Two other families were meeting us here from Las Vegas. Culvers is a new found love of my girls! We ate there in Florida and were happily surprised to find one in Arizona!
At Flaggstaff, I opened up the GyPSy Guide app, because that’s where the tour began for the Grand Canyon South Rim. We named our tour guide Frank! He told us all kinds of interesting facts about the area during the drive to the Canyon. One of the stops he mentioned was the Chapel of the Holy Dove. We never would have stopped here if he didn’t tell us about it!
This was a super neat stop and completely made me a believer of the GyPSy Guide! It made me look forward to whatever was coming next.
It was at this sign where we realized we did not have the America the Beautiful National Park Pass that we already had paid $80 for… There was no way to get into the park without a pass so we had to buy a new one at the gate…
Yavapai Lodge was the perfect location for touring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s actually located IN the park just steps away from the market, dining options, and a shuttle bus stop. It’s a very short drive to the Visitor’s Center.
We booked a King Family Room which included a king bed and a set of bunk beds, which the girls preferred so they didn’t have to share a bed.
Overall, I was extremely happy with this lodging! I loved the location, the bed set up, the food options, the market, free shuttle and so much more. The cost for two nights was $505.00 which I thought was fantastic.
The two other families we were traveling with (sister in law and brother in law and their families) arrived a short time after we did. We met up and had some quick champagne. My girls were exhausted and starving, so we went to dinner and the rest of the crew went to see the sunset from Mather Point.
There were two different dining options here. A dining room that had a buffet and a set price and a few a la carte items, or the tavern that had pub type food. You ordered at a counter and then went to your table and they brought it to you. Post-Covid they didn’t have typical waitresses.
We chose the Tavern:
Devon got the Avocado Toast, I got the Tavern All American Burger with the potato salad (WHICH WAS SPICY!), and Kinsey got a plain pizza. We all agreed the food was realllllly good, but it took forever to get it. It was packed!
After dinner, we went home and went to bed so we were ready for our first full day in the canyon!