I still keep a handwritten note from when I was thirteen, detailing the “100 things to do before you die” as featured on a Discovery Channel programme I’d seen. The number one thing to do was “See the Grand Canyon”. I remember thinking, it makes sense for one of the seven natural wonders of the world to be honoured with the top spot. And also thinking how I would probably never get to that one, but I could start ticking off the ones closer to home.
The thought of having been as lucky as I was to see the Grand Canyon on my short trip to the US still blows my mind, and it almost feels as a bit of a dream. See for yourself…
We started off early in the morning, as it’s a four-hour journey from Vegas to the Grand Canyon. The first stop was Lake Mead, formed in 1936 by the backed-up waters of the Colorado river when it was blocked by the impressive Hoover Dam. At a height of 726 feet, Hoover Dam itself is considered one of the engineering marvels of the world. Its 17 generators produce enough electricity to power up three states… for as long as twelve months!
We followed the river for a while, as we headed of to the West Rim of the Canyon. The trip included three stops in the area: the Hualapai Ranch, a mock western town with all the features of a Hollywood movie, and two vantage points – Eagle Point and Guano Point.
There was a jail, a bank, a souvenir shop, and opportunities to learn to rope cattle, or shoot a revolver. It was fun for a little while, but I was kind of impatient to take a peek over the edge of the Canyon, so I didn’t spend too long there.
I was first through the door of the little shuttle bus that toured the three attraction points. I literally couldn’t contain my excitement about witnessing what I was sure was going to be a brilliant view over the Canyon (frequent readers know how I feel about panoramas!).
When I got off the bus, I almost trotted across the flat expanse of red rock to reach the edge, and skidded to a halt.
It was … sprawling. At this point I was so dumbfounded, I couldn’t describe it more eloquently if my life depended on it. It was stunning, beautiful, terrifying and inviting all at once.
For thousands of years the Colorado river had been steadily and patiently gnawing at the rocks, until it had carved a snuggly home for itself in the the mile-deep canyon.
At the back of Eagle Point there is a small stretch of desert plain, where a number of Native American structures used by different tribes are exhibited.
The third and best part of the tour, Guano Point, stuns with mesmerising melange of vivid red, and more mellow orange and golden shades of stone. It also boasts more striking rock formations than Eagle Point, and the best part is that the Canyon curves around it, with the Colorado river glistening beautifully along its bottom.
One last panorama shot:
With a final glimpse of the majestic relief beneath, I said a heartfelt goodbye to the U.S. Although it had seemed inconceivable to my thirteen-year-old self to even visit once, I’m now sure this is just the beginning of a beautiful romance, that is bound to take me back there again and again.