Road Trip – Arizona and the Grand Canyon

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Day 1:

We left our home at 8:40 AM. Today’s destination was Williams, AZ. We started out of San Diego by way of I-15 to I-40 East. We didn’t have the luxury of taking our beloved, “blue highways.” However, we did our best to see what sites we could find on Route 66.

The first Route 66 town we visited was Newberry Springs, CA. It was a desolate town with very few Route 66-era buildings in existence. There were old motel signs still standing where no buildings were present. We tried to get back to I-40 heading on Route 66 going east and encountered very bumpy, crumbly, poorly-maintained road. It was so bad that we had to drive on the shoulder. Driving on that road discouraged us from driving more of the “Mother Road.” We didn’t want to ruin our vehicle on the first day.

Crumbly Route 66

Reading through the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, I described all the sites we were passing by while on the interstate. We crossed the CA/AZ border and the landscape immediately changed.

We decided to stop in Kingman, AZ—proclaimed as the “Heart of Route 66.” We were mildly impressed as most of the buildings were boarded up and shops have closed. So we took our bathroom break and headed east on I-40. 

 

We read that Seligman, AZ was one of the Route 66 cities that was completely bypassed by the interstate and was left mostly preserved. We took the exit to the city and were enamored by it’s charm and “roadside attraction worthiness.”

KOA Circle Pines

It rained prior to our arrival at the KOA Circle Pines in Williams, AZ. The campsite was clean and well-maintained. The staff seemed friendly and helpful. We found out that all the water was imported and were conscious about how much water we used. 

It was 5:30pm and getting dark. We quickly set up camp in the drizzle (hoping it wouldn’t turn to rain), ate dinner and made our way to the 6:30 hay ride which looped around the camp site. Afterwards, the kids were itching to go to the indoor pool so we suited up and took a dip. The water was COLD and very chlorinated so we didn’t stay very long. 

We made our way into the town of Williams to find a store to purchase dessert ingredients. We were surprised by the active nightlife and how well-preserved the town was. The neon lights were on and people were buzzing about, having a great time. Back at the KOA, we made “schmones” or s’more cones (which was kind of a fail) and went to bed for the night.

Day 2: The Grand Canyon

The night was rough. It was cold, damp and a freight train came by every twenty minutes, which slowed down to an hourly basis. But somehow we got enough rest to get up and head to Grand Canyon National Park.

On our way north, we stopped at Bedrock City — a roadside attraction replicating the buildings of the famous, Flintstones cartoon.  They even sold coffee for 5 cents! Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take a tour but we had enough time to snap some pics. 

We entered the town of Tusayan and parked at the IMAX theatre to get our park pass and take a shuttle into Grand Canyon National Park. Once at the visitor’s center, the kids grabbed their material to participate in the Junior Ranger program. We hopped a park shuttle that looped through the South Rim and were taken from viewpoint to viewpoint.

This was my husband’s and children’s first visit to the Grand Canyon. I’ve been here at least three times when I was a kid and I have much more appreciation for its beauty and pure awesomeness now that I’m an adult. This is definitely a must-see.

The Grand Canyon is carved by the Colorado River over the course of  two BILLION years to get it to its current state. To think that our lives are only a minuscule amount time compared to that is just mind blowing! The river exposed various layers of rock and each layer tells a different story about the earth’s history. It is absolutely amazing. 

While You’re Visiting the Grand Canyon

Parking and free trams are available outside of Grand Canyon National Park in Tusayan, AZ. On the way to the park will see signs to tune in to a certain AM radio station to receive park info.

The Grand Canyon is divided into two parts: The North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is on the Arizona-side and you will find a lot more tourists and services. The North Rim is accessible on the Utah-side and is only open for a short season (May-Oct) and doesn’t have as many services as the South Rim. 

If you have kids, stop by the Visitor’s Center and inquire about the Junior Ranger program. It helps the kids be aware of their surroundings and be good stewards to the National Park. Once the tasks of the program are completed, the kids will take a pledge and earn their badge.

On the South Rim, there are several shuttle busses that take you from point-to-point that stop by at regular intervals. This is the best way to see all the sights and stay cool if you’re visiting in warmer weather.

Bring lots of water — no matter what season! 

Make sure you visit Hermit’s Rest, a structure built in 1914 as a rest stop for tourists and motor coaches visiting the nearby area named after a prospector who lived alone for many years. There’s a snack bar, gift shop and restrooms, but best of all, the building itself is a structure to behold.

PHOTO GALLERY:

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Next Stop… New Mexico