Visiting national parks is a great way to spend your summer days. There is nothing better than the great outdoors to improve your mental health, enrich friendships, and spend uninterrupted quality time with your family. Before you get in the car and take the drive, here are a few tips that can save you a few extra dollars, and maybe even a trip to the hospital.
Do Your Research
Check the national parks and recreation website for the park schedule. The South Rim is open 365 days, but other areas are seasonal. Parking is 35 dollars per car, but free for active duty military. If you arrive early park near the lodging on the street, it avoids the pandemonium at the visitors center and is a 2 minute walk into the park.
Read Over The Edge: Death In Grand Canyon
I spent a few days before the trip reading this book. This was my wake up call for caution on the trail, people have the best intentions but mother nature is nothing short of a killer. Please do not use this trip as an opportunity to lose your hiking virginity in the middle of the day, full sun shining, and attempt to hike the most difficult trail with not enough water. The results will be deadly.
Cool Clothing Walking Shoes Minimal Makeup
I saw some of the worst fashion displays on the trail, not judging anyone, but people were not dressed for a day out in nature. Wear clothing that keeps you cool, breathes and protects you from the sun. A hat is a must and if you forget to bring one as I did, a cool wet rag is a perfect replacement. Ladies this is a day to wear tennis shoes, real tennis shoes, not cute converse or sandals, break out those ugly tennis shoes that are the most comfortable. Yes I saw women in heels, WHY! WHYYYYYYYYY! They were completely miserable, I’m sure they had a foot full of blisters by the end of the day, and were so focused on not falling they didn’t enjoy the view. If you have trekked across the world to see the Grand Canyon, dammit enjoy it! Ladies, you do not need a full face beat today, it will just melt off in the heat and as you sweat. Give yourself a break ladies, you are beautiful with that fresh face.
Water Water Water
Do I even need to tell you that you need water, lots of water, more water than you assume is needed. There are water refilling stations along the trail, bring a refillable container because they do not sell plastic bottles of water. This improves the amount of plastic littering the canyon (thought I did see plastic that had been thrown off the rim) respect and preserve nature by doing your part. Orange slices are also another way to stay hydrated with a bit of flavor, oranges can be easily thrown in a backpack and are also great for the kiddies who may not like drinking water. A camel pack is also a great idea, it’s essentially a mini backpack full of water. Depending on the brand, you have space for your phone, and also pockets for snacks. Sadly I couldn’t figure out how to open the top on mine until after the trip (typical) so I had to remove the inside pouch. Whatever it takes, stay hydrated, drink when you are thirsty and make sure you know where the water stations are if you are going on one of the longer trails down into the canyon.
Do Not Feed The Animals
There are signs everywhere explaining it is illegal to feed the animals, and in front of all of those signs I saw people feeding animals.
Protect The Kiddies
This is a great trip for kids of all ages, but bring a stroller or a wagon and if it isn’t covered make sure they have a hat and sunscreen is a must.
If possible buy your snacks outside of the park, they will be much cheaper. Make sure you have sacks with additional salt so that your body replaces it as you are drinking more water than normal and sweating. Beef jerky, trail mix, and dried fruit are excellent choices.
Cell Service is Minimal
Most of the day my phone had no cell service, this was excellent. This is one day you will want to stay off social media, ignore text messages and just enjoy the beauty that you are surrounded with. Though I enjoyed taking pictures, it was good to just hike and absorb the sounds and smells on the Canyon.
DO NOT RISK YOUR LIFE FOR A SELFIE
Lastly, yes its beautiful, yes these are great opportunities for pictures, yes you can climb off the rim in certain sections, yes you will get a great shot, but you just might slip and fall off. Hundreds of people have fallen thinking “it could never happen to me”, please don’t be the next example of careless stupidity. I saw several people, young and old, risk their life for a picture. It saddens me that we have become so consumed with posting that we have a complete disregard for our safety and the safety of those who will have to assist in a rescue or clear a corpse. Respect nature, respect your family, and most of all respect and protect yourself.
If you do nothing else, take this time to really enjoy the moment. Don’t rush the day, just walk, reflect, and enjoy. As you pass people along the way, smile, speak, laugh at the kiddies complaining about being tired and ready to go, marvel at the women in heels, those with butt cheeks showing, and anything else that you will see that makes the day interesting.
Happy trails to you, and surprisingly I didn’t spend a moment being Un~Nerved at the Grand Canyon!
US National Park Service-https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
Over The Edge: Death In Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri & Thomas M. Myers