Grand Canyon National Park: Grandview Point

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Two hours before sunset on our first evening in the Grand Canyon, we met up with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours & Safaris in Tusayan for the Grand Sunset Tour. Unlike the other tour company we used this trip, this was a well-run operation and we enjoyed this introduction to the park immensely.

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Our guide was a local with ties to the Navajo and very knowledgeable about the native flora and fauna. He took us through Kaibab National Forest via the unpaved historic stagecoach roads, pausing whenever someone glimpsed an elk or deer through the trees so we could all see.

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Our first stop was the steel Grandview Lookout Tower. This was built in 1936 as a fire watchtower by the Civilian Conservation Corps. We climbed the 80 foot tower to see the view from the top.

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We got back into the jeep and continued along the gravel road until it met up with the park road.  We got out at Moran Point where we could see the river and Grandview Point and then got back in the jeep to travel to Grandview for the sunset.

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The Grandview is the southernmost point on the South Rim and the farthest from the Colorado River. Because of its position, the drop-offs here are less steep with more intervening buttes and ravines than in spots closer to the river. This makes it an ideal place to watch the sunset as it washes over all the nooks and crannies in a colorful display.

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There was a hotel built here in 1895 for Grand Canyon tourists, before the construction of El Tovar and other Grand Canyon Village facilities. It only lasted a few years and we saw no remains of it when we were there.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/19/2014

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Grand Canyon National Park: Desert View

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Desert View is 25 miles east of Grand Canyon village. The park’s shuttle system does not extend this far, so you will need a car to visit this section. We were on the lackluster van tour I mentioned in my Yavapai post, so having a ride to Desert View was one of the few highlights of that tour.

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The main attraction, aside from the Grand Canyon views, is the stone Desert View Watchtower designed by Mary Colter in 1932. This building, like the other Colter buildings in Grand Canyon National Park, is a National Historic Landmark and was designed to blend into its surroundings.

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It is a replica of an ancient Puebloan Watchtower, with 85 steps leading to an observation platform at the top. The walls are adorned with murals painted by a Hopi artist.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/20/2014

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View of Cedar Mountain Mesa from the Watchtower

Grand Canyon National Park: Yavapai Point

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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On one of our days in the Grand Canyon, we took a tour that was not the wisest investment we’ve ever made. The van was late picking us up, the guide was nice but lacked common sense, and the tour ended abruptly when an elderly participant cut a gash in his forehead necessitating a trip to the medical center.

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Though I had a moment’s vindication when out of all twelve people on the minibus, I alone was able to dial 911 on my Samsung (leaving eleven iPhone users in the dust), we would have been better off using the park shuttles to get to the points we did see on the tour. Live and learn…but we did still spend the day in the wondrous Grand Canyon.

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One of the interesting stops on the tour was Yavapai Point. Since we were on a tour we didn’t have to worry about parking…there wasn’t much. Yavapai is the Northernmost point in this part of the South Rim, is closest to the Colorado River and has excellent panoramic views.

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Three large canyons converge on the Colorado River here. Directly opposite Yavapai Point is Bright Angel Canyon.

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We looked around the visitor center before moving on to the next stop. There is a geological museum inside which includes a topographic relief model of the canyon.

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To see my other posts on the Grand Canyon, please click the following links:

Location: Arizona

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 1/11/1908

Date of my visit: 8/20/2014

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At a stop on the way back, the tour guide encouraged us to stage this photo where we seem to be rescuing hubby from plunging to his death. At this angle, you can see the wide ledge behind him. He was fine. But when an elderly man hopped over the wall to try the same thing, he lost his balance and hit his head on a rock. Best not to fool around on the rim…better safe than sorry.

Coconino National Forest: Bell Rock Trail

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. When planning our Sedona vacation, we’d come across a Mom site that listed two favorite family-friendly hikes: Devil’s Bridge and Bell Rock. We didn’t realize that both of these trails were within the National Forest boundaries, didn’t find the park’s website and just got directions at the hotel.

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After hiking to the Devil’s Bridge in the morning, we decided to try the Bell Rock Trail in the afternoon. This trail head was much easier to find than the Devil’s Bridge trail…there are signs pointing to the parking lot off the main highway in town.

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From the parking lot we took a nice walk up the wide, flat Bell Rock Pathway enjoying awesome views of Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte.  We shared the trail with cyclists and a lot of other casual hikers. There was no shade and we quickly tired from the August heat.

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After a while, we came to a bench under a shade tree. My daughter and I relaxed there with a dehydrated cyclist while my husband continued on to the Bell Rock trail to climb up the rock.

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While he was off on his rock climbing adventure, we saw a roadrunner in the path. My daughter had been hoping to see one the whole trip. Alas, he was too speedy for me to capture on ‘film.’

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Hubby saw a rattlesnake up on Bell Rock. Thankfully, it didn’t pay him any mind. At one point, we managed to get a signal and he messaged us to look up to see him waving from an elbow high in the formation.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

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Location: Courthouse Vista loop off HWY 179, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designation declared: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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Coconino National Forest: Chapel of the Holy Cross

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona.  It was inspired by the vision of Marguerite Brunswig Staude. She’d imagined a cross superimposed on the newly constructed Empire State Building in 1932 and set out to build the grand chapel of her dreams.

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After a failed attempt to build the chapel in Budapest, Staude set her sights on her home town of Sedona.  She chose a site within Coconino National forest and had to obtain a special-use permit from the Secretary of the Interior to build there.

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It took 18 months to build the chapel at a cost of $300,000. It was completed in 1956. The 11 acres on which Holy Cross sits is still owned by the US Forest service, but is managed by the local Roman Catholic Diocese.

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It’s a simple, humble structure set in a majestic backdrop. It is too small to host regular services, so it serves as a non-denominational shrine for the thousands who visit it each year.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

Location: 780 Chapel Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Historic Landmark

Date designated or established: October 6, 2011 (added to NRHP)

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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View of Snoopy Rock from the restaurant we went to for lunch after visiting Chapel of the Holy Cross. Snoopy Rock is the formation on the right in this photo (imagine Snoopy’s silhouette laying on top of the dog house)

Coconino National Forest: Devil’s Bridge

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Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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The Coconino National Forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff in Arizona with landscapes ranging from red rocks and deserts to pine forests. We were staying in Sedona for part of our Arizona vacation and had stumbled upon the Devil’s Bridge hike when researching things to do in the area.

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It didn’t occur to us at the time that this striking red rock terrain was actually part of a national forest, so we didn’t find the Devils Bridge webpage.  Instead, we asked at our hotel about it and they pointed us in the general direction with a map. Even with the map, we had a hard time finding the trail head at first. There is trail head parking just off Vultee Arch.

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There is an easy green trail marked on the map at the trail head. There is also a moderate blue trail and difficult red trail. The trails are not themselves marked by color. We opted for the easy trail.

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The easy trail is the dirt road just before the parking lot that the jeep tourism companies use. It is uphill, sandy, hot and dry…so ‘easy’ is a relative term. The whole 3-mile hike was a piece of cake for my husband (who runs Spartan Races) but not so much for me and my daughter.

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In three-quarters of a mile, the dirt road meets up with the path to Devils Bridge. From there, it becomes more difficult. It’s another climb of about three quarters of a mile with some steep natural stone steps and very little shade.

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There are wonderful views of the valley and surrounding mountains on the way up.

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The natural bridge is a 50-foot high sandstone arch and looks perilous as you approach it, but it’s wider than it appears as you walk out on it. Fearless people do jumping jacks for selfies in the middle of the bridge.

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I stood there long enough for a photo, fighting the urge to crawl back to safety, trying not to look down at the sheer drop on either side of me.

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To see my other Sedona posts, click below:

  • Devil’s Bridge
  • Bell Rock (coming soon)
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross (coming soon)

Location: Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona, AZ 86336

Designation: National Forest

Date designated or established: 7/2/1908

Date of my visit: August 23, 2014

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Top 10 Posts of 2018

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to do a year-in-review post. It’s been a great inaugural year here on the blog, with 113 posts, over 5000 visitors and over 600 people following along on the journey. I am grateful for and humbled by your support.

Here are the top ten most popular posts from 2018 (you can click on each title to go to the original post):

10: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee/North Carolina)DSC05739

9: Montezuma Castle National Monument (Arizona)IMG_5657

8: Muir Woods National Monument (California)F-_2012_2012-08-11-San-Francisco_DSC02511

7: Crater Lake National Park – Garfield Peak (Oregon)Day7-IMG_6122

6: Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)DSCN0953

5: Flathead National Forest – Whitefish Mountain (Montana)IMG_1677

4: Acadia National Park – Loop Road Highlights (Maine)IMG_1355

3: Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond and the Bubbles (Maine)2007_0527(009)

2: Glacier National Park – Running Eagle Falls (Montana)IMG_1792

And the most popular post of 2018….Capitol Reef National Park – Cathedral Valley (Utah)IMG_8712

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to happy exploring ahead for 2019!