We rolled into Flagstaff after a long day of driving, and took half an hour or so to get our minds off the road once we were at our couch host’s place. We stayed with a North Arizona University student & his roommate, both of whom are doing Physical Therapy – Philipp and Travis. They are absolutely super hosts, and even though they were extremely busy with classes and studying for tests, they still hung out with us a bit.
I felt like Flagstaff has two distinct but overlapping atmospheres – it’s definitely a student town, and also a quaint little town-in-the-mountains. I say little because the main downtown area is literally walkable from top to bottom; we spent some time at a wine bar (Vino Loco) with delicious wine and mouthwatering cheese (even a South African Havarti & peppadew!). There was an old fashioned 2 story balconied hotel where people were playing Irish music, we saw a speak easy, and a candy shop that would make you cry tears of sugar to try everything and being in the mountains, there were an inordinate amount of outdoors gear shops. Althoug it was a sunday night there were numerous shops with private events going on, and we could picture how enjoyable it would be to be back around their city plaza on a summer day or during their monthly art walk that Philipp mentioned. From pretty much anywhere in Flagstaff you can see Mt Humphries, wth white, snowy peaks, which opens as a ski destination every winter.
The next morning we were out the door by 8am and on our way to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim… While the South Rim is open both year round and 24hours a day, the North Rim gets too snowy/icy, so it closes for the winter until mid-May. Meh. I don’t think we would have been able to see both, anyway. Before you actually get to the Grand Canyon entrance you drive through the Kaibab National Forest for miles – that drive to the fee gate was much longer than I expected… but perhaps it felt so long because I was so excited to get to the actual canyon! 🙂
It’s one of the more expensive parks i.t.o. admission fee (2 people on a motorcycle, we paid $25, instead of $5 or $10 like most other places), but it was well worth it! Our first look over the rim of the canyon was stupefying! The epic size and monstrous dimensions of the canyon made both our jaws drop; we just stood there for a while feeling hopelessly insignificant in the face of the sheer depth and width of this ‘cut in the ground’. The information tape on the shuttle bus said the average width of the canyon is 10 miles (16km), but its widest point is 18miles (28,9km). In its length, it’s 227miles (446km). Stupefying.
They have a really convenient shuttle bus that takes you around to all the scenic overlooks on the south rim, as well as to all of the trailheads. We just did an easy walk along the rim, along with going to a couple of the overlooks. You can hike all the way from the rim to the Colorado River way at the bottom, but it’s a multi-day hike. They also have several different colored bus lines that run along the rim, we started on the yellow, then rode the red line out to mojave point which is a fantastic overlook.