On the Road Again
It's that time again: I'm planning my next adventure! This time it will be stateside, but I'll be visiting another Wonder of the World: The Grand Canyon. Hiking the Canyon has been a dream of mine for a while, and since we have a few other places in the area on our bucket list, Ricky and I figured we could use it as a road trip vacation. We began planning our National Park road trip in January... and let's just say we have learned a few things since then.
1. Plan Ahead
I don't know if you know, but hiking the Grand Canyon is a big deal, and not just because of the vastness of the site. We thought that giving ourselves three and a half months to book everything would be plenty of time... psyche!
Planning on hiking to the bottom of the Canyon and camping for the night? Make sure you apply (by snail mail) to the National Park Service for a back country permit at least 4 months prior to your planned trip - and be forewarned that there is still a possibility that your application could be denied if sites are already full.
Is tent camping not for you and you want to sleep in an actual bed after spending an entire day hiking? You can stay at the Phantom Ranch, but only if you book your reservation a year and a half ahead of time.
This Wonder of the World means serious business, and if you are really serious about the Grand Canyon: preparation is key.
2. Educate Yourself
I love doing as much research as I can before my trips, and one of the best sources for information are people who have already lived the experience. So use that Facebook status box for more than just a selfie, and ask questions and advice from friends. To take it a step further, we decided to join Facebook groups like Grand Canyon Hikers. Users are constantly updating the page with pictures and testimonials of current conditions on trails, roadways, and of weather. It is an invaluable source for insider tips, including trail recommendations. There are so many places to hike in the Grand Canyon that it can be overwhelming, and the community has a wealth of information on each trail, breaking it down by physical ability needed, duration, and quality of scenery. We found answers to questions we hadn't even thought to ask, and even suggestions for other places to hike since parts of the Grand Canyon are closed during certain months of the year.
2. Is it Worth the Gram?
As soon as we made a verbal commitment to this trip, I began my several month-long process of researching where we should explore. Of course we have all seen the stunningly gorgeous photos of Havasu Falls on social media. Here's a reminder if you need one:
Disgusting, right? Of course this site was at the top of my list for adventures. However, to visit the Havasu Falls and other waterfalls in the surrounding area you have to stay on the Havasupai Reservation. Obtaining a permit to stay here is more about luck than preparation. The website for the the Havasupai Reservation holds an annual lottery on February 1st. Have your trigger finger and credit card ready to go at 8AM MST in hopes of grabbing a precious campsite as it not uncommon for most available dates to be taken in a matter of minutes. (Why does the craziness of the acting business insist on flowing into my personal life?) To get one coveted spot would seem simple enough, but here's the twist: reservations require a minimum 3-night/4-day stay, plus a hefty price of $100/person per night. While that ended up being too rich for our blood, please don't let that discourage your #instafamous dreams. If you are lucky enough to nab a spot and have the funds, have at it... and take me with you!
3. Be Open to Possibilites
Although we have already hit a few snags planning our trip, we have also found some amazing deals like 7 Mile Lodge, a hotel that is only 7 miles away from the South Rim but only takes same-day reservations. It's a budget-friendly diamond in the rough surrounded by hotels that will charge you upwards of $300/night. If you're a "fly by the seat of your pants" traveler, this is a wonderful option... I'll let you know how we fare!
Also, I originally planned to do a weeklong trek through the Canyon. Nothing makes my hippie heart happier than the thought of being completely surround by nature for 5 days, but with tours starting at $900 for just a 3-day trek we decided to get more bang for our buck by visiting Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and Escalante on our road trip to the Canyon. Thank goodness I have a guy who is the son of a truck driver!