Grand Canyon & Horseshoe Bend

The Grand Canyon is a must-see if you’re in the area. We did a two day and one night trip from Las Vegas by car. It was the morning after my birthday celebration so we were pretty tired and after only a few hours of sleep we started our little roadtrip.

Desert landscape near the Horseshoe Bend

Before driving to the Grand Canyon we stopped at the Horseshoe Bend. It’s a part of the Colorado River where the river makes a U-turn in the shape of a horseshoe. It took us almost 5 hours to drive there from Las Vegas and once again we underestimated the distances in the US. You can drive for hours on seemingly endless roads and the landscape is still the same.

Desert landscape near the Horseshoe Bend

Once we reached the parking lot for the Horseshoe Bend and got off the car we saw a sign saying that you should bring a bottle of water to avoid fainting because of the heat. We didn’t want to return to our car so we just started walking without water but soon we regretted our decision.

Horseshoe Bend

It was only a 10 minutes walk but the heat was so strong and the sun hit us so hard that we got a little dizzy. Nevertheless, we continued to walk as we were almost there.

Horseshoe Bend

When we finally arrived at the viewpoint we were speechless. The view was breathtaking and it was somehow calming to watch the river flow. For a while we just stood there taking in the view.

Horseshoe Bend

There were a few other tourists but it wasn’t too crowded. The walk back to the car was equally exhausting and I was glad to be back in the shade.

Then we had to drive two more hours to Flagstaff, the town where we stayed the night. On the way to Flagstaff we passed so many different landscapes it was unbelievable. From rocky desert scenery to green countryside and woods. The beautiful scenery made the long drive bearable and on the way we could watch the sunset.

Grand Canyon

Early the next morning we left Flagstaff to drive in the direction of the Grand Canyon South Rim. Another two hour drive was ahead of us but all the driving was worth it in the end. Upon arrival to the Grand Canyon National Park you have to pay an entrance fee of 35 $ per car and you’ll receive a little map.

Grand Canyon South Rim

When we made our first stop to actually see the canyon we were incredibly impressed by the view. You always see it on pictures but that’s not even close to standing in front of this giant natural wonder. The colours of the rocks are red, orange, yellow and green, which is something that you don’t really notice in pictures. The area is huge and standing at the edge overlooking the canyon you feel really small.

Life on the edge

Luckily it wasn’t crowded at all so we really felt as if we were in the nature and not at a super touristy site. We walked alongside the canyon for a while and stopped many times just to look and take pictures.

The Grand Canyon was way more beautiful than I’d imagined. The colours and the enormous size are impressive. However, I also would have imagined to see more different landscapes. As impressive as it is, it kind of looks all the same in the South Rim. I guess if you have time to hike down or to see other parts of the Grand Canyon it’s a different story. But if you have only one day you’ll probably just see the part that we saw.

After spending the day at the Grand Canyon we made our way back to Las Vegas, which took us another 5 hours. In the end we got really fed up by driving as we drove a total of 14 hours in only two days. It was worth it but I’d recommend to do it differently.

Recommendations

  • Plan enough time. The distances are quite big and like in Death Valley we would have liked to have some more time.
  • Plan well what you want to see. We wanted to see Antilope Canyon as well but thought that it was too far away. In the end we realised that it was right next to the Horseshoe Bend.
  • Bring enough water. If you go there in summer it will be extremely hot.
  • Hike down the Grand Canyon. We didn’t have enough time to do that but it must be beautiful to see the the canyon from below. There are even waterfalls.
  • There’s a possibility to stay the night directly in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. This would be way more convenient than staying in Flagstaff. We didn’t know that there were accommodations as well so we stayed in a town 2h away from the South Rim.
  • Check with your car rental agency if you can return the car in another city. If you rent the car in Las Vegas it would be way more convenient without having to drive back there again. That would save a lot of time and gas.

Have you been to the Grand Canyon or to the Horseshoe Bend? If yes, which part have you seen and what did you do there?

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