The Grand Canyon. It takes places #1 and #2 on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Things To Do in Arizona list.  It seems to be a must do on most travelers’ bucket lists, but is the Grand Canyon really grand?


Well of course it is!  It’s amazing and beautiful and it’s hard to wrap your mind around its vastness.  Do I think everyone should make the trek to see it?  Yes and no, let me explain.

We went to Arizona for my husband’s cousin’s wedding.  We weren’t sure if we would ever be able to make it back there again so we decided to make a trip of it and see a little bit of the state. You can’t go to Arizona without seeing the Grand Canyon right?  On the way up there we were talking about the jokes we had heard about people recalling their family vacations as a kid saying, “I remember we drove 3 days to the Grand Canyon, we got out, looked at it for 10 minutes, got back in the car and drove 3 days back home.” We talked about how crazy that was and wondered why wouldn’t they hike and really enjoy it? Then we got there and found the ounce of truth in the joke. While truly amazing, we had played up the Grand Canyon in our minds so much that we were a little disappointed.

We had planned on hiking the entire day, hoping for at least 3 miles down into the canyon. We were there on Thanksgiving day and not only was it freezing but that was also when everyone else in the state decided to visit.  During our first short hike down we were constantly having to move to the side to let others that were on their way up go by.  There were so many hikers that it was hard to enjoy the experience.  The two trails also had ice on parts of them.  We decided to head back up and see what else there was to do in the area and go to the van to eat the lunch we had packed.  We went to the visitor center and found that there really wasn’t anything we could do that day besides hike.  After lunch we thought the trail would be thawed out by then and we wouldn’t have to worry about one of our boys slipping on ice and falling off a steep drop off.  We made it a little further down the trail the second time but after helping two children up after slipping on the same patch of ice we decided to call it a day and head back out of the canyon.  We had travelled quite a ways from Texas to the Grand Canyon, checked it our for a bit and then left. Kind of like the joke…

grand canyon

We really feel like the Grand Canyon would have been the experience we had envisioned if we had known a little more about it.

What We Wish We Had Known Before Our Trip

We knew before the trip that we wouldn’t be able to hike all the way down but we thought we could make it a decent distance, however, with kids in tow I’m not sure how far we could have gone even if the trail hadn’t had ice patches.  We passed many college age students that had hiked and camped their way down and up.  On their way up every single one of them would  ask us how much further.  They were all in good shape and had all the professional hiking gear us novice hikers wish we had and they were struggling to make it back to the top.  I’m thinking the boys will have to be teenagers before we can even attempt a hike like that.

Other than the Grand Canyon there isn’t really much to do at the National Park. I realize your thinking well duh!, however, if you can’t do the hiking/camping thing then its a pretty long trip for most folks to make just to see it and not get to experience it in its entirety.

The few extras that are offered at the Grand Canyon such as helicopter tours, rafting and the IMAX theater are quite expensive.

Don’t bother paying extra to stay near the Grand Canyon.  We stayed in Tusayan, AZ  about 20 mins. away for less than half the price.

grand canyon

We hope to be able take another trip to Arizona when the boys are older. Arizona has so much to offer- history, nature, art- we weren’t able to experience everything we wanted to.  In the case that we aren’t able to make it back I’m glad that my boys were able to see the Grand Canyon and marvel at its majesty.

There’s not a single person in Arizona today who would say the Grand Canyon was a mistake. -Stewart Udall