Grand Canyon South Rim/ No more day mule trips

Trip Start Feb 09, 2013
Trip End Jun 30, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday/Tuesday – May 13 &14 – First about last night at Monument Valley. We took the shuttle over in the evening to the Gouldings Lodge and restaurant where we ate dinner.  Toured the home of the Gouldings when they lived at Monument Valley.  This is the actual home with all of the furnishings.  The Gouldings did sell the property and moved to AZ but t Mike died shortly after and his wife came back and was allowed to live in her trailer until she died in 1992. 

    In the museum, they had a film about Kit Carson and how terrible he was.  He surrounded Canyon De Chelly with snipers at the top and rode in with the army to burn the Indians homes, crops and kill many of them.  The rest starved to death.  This was a tribe that was not warlike and only wanted to farm and live their lives out there.  They shot and killed all their livestock – sheep, cattle, horses etc.  As one man said Kit was a scout but he was a terrible man. Yet, if you drive into Colorado they have a forest and everything named for him.

    After we watched the movie "Stagecoach" in black and white and laughed through the whole thing.  I did not realize that Shirley Temple was a star in one of his other movies when she was a teenager. 

   In the morning we drove through the rest of Monument Valley heading west towards the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.  We had to drive through more of the Navajo Reservation and then the Hopi Reservation.  I will say the Navajo's are better at driving their cars than the Hopi’s.  All along the route the Hopi’s pass without blinkers, pass when other cars are coming, cut cars off, don’t stop at stop signs, so beware if you drive through this area.

   Arrived in the south rim about 9 in the morning after driving about two hours.  We had to turn the clocks back again because AZ does not do Daylight Savings Time.   Since it was early it was not that crowded in Canyon.  Stopped at Desert View which has a campground, market place, store and the famous Watchtower.  The views were fantastic.  Headed west and took in some other views like Navajo Point, Lipan Point, Moran Point, and Grandview Trailhead.  At Grandview Point one of the signs talked about a woman (25) who had run the Boston Marathon in 2004 or 5 and two months later came to the canyon and hiked down with a partner.  She was in great shape but they took no maps and only one small bottle of water.  They got lost and used all their water and when her partner got sick they separated to try to find help.  Her partner was found alive and two days later the woman’s body was found dehydrated.  So the message is that you might be in great shape but if you are not prepared with more than a gal. of water, maps and everything else that is needed you will not survive hikes down into the canyon.  The temperature at the rim yesterday was 75 but in the canyon it was close to 100 and I know when I rode the mules down 20 years ago the temperature was way over 100 at the bottom.

   They have a new Visitor Center at the park with plenty of parking but still cars park in the long slots that are for oversized vehicles.  The Visitor Center is at the rim so you can walk along it heading east or west.  It was about noon when we got there and it was mobbed with so many charter bus tours and other visitors.    Headed to our campground right in the Grand Canyon Village which I reviewed below.  Read the section on the three huge Elk that were in our campsite in the morning.

   After we got a bite to eat we headed  to the rim and toured the Bright Angel Lodge, Kolb Studio, Kachina Lodge, Thunderbird Lodge and the El Tovar and Hopi House.  We had also stopped at the Yavapai Lodge and market place near the campground using the free shuttle service.  We hiked along the rim in this area.

   This shuttle service can be confusing with three loops and having to get off to head west or east and stand in a different section.  It wasn’t too bad at the time but later in the afternoon we took it back to the campground and it was mobbed with about 30 people standing and more that wanted to get on.  Twenty years ago when we traveled with three families in RV’s and seven kids the shuttle was crowded in the afternoon and we got out of them fast and walked.

   Twenty years ago ten of us took the mules down on a day trip about 8 hours down on Bright Angel Trail.  George and Walt did not go because Brad and Justine were not old enough at the time.  So three mothers and one father, Ken, rode down with five teenage girls.  It was interesting and the head man who I think has died now said the rule is –if he has to take the girls off then that mother had to get off also and walk back up.   Needless to say no one got off but when we got back all of us were walking bowlegged and one mother we did not see for three days because she was so sore.  Also we had to walk over on the rim to the Bright Angel Lodge to turn in equipment (hat, gloves, water etc) so all of us were there having something to drink and sitting down because we were exhausted.  We realized that our youngest daughter was not with us.  George took off running down the rim back to where we last saw her.  There she was petting the mules and crying saying you told me not to move so that you could backtrack.  She has never ever let us forget how we left her in the Grand Canyon.  Well, we tried to find the mules and the trail and right now there is so much construction around the Bright Angel Trail that it is closed off.  We did find the mule barn the next day but they have built so much around it that it looks different.   Also, there are no more day mule trips down the canyon only the two day overnight one to the ranch.  They are taking day trips only on the rim now and I think the North Rim has some trips.  The reason given is the mules are wearing down the trail (I think they have been on it since the 1930’s) and that people over 200 hundred lbs cannot ride.  I think this is being politically correct?

     We went to a ranger program on Monday night about Rock Art and understanding the meaning of it.  Tuesday morning we got up early because some campers near us left around 4:30 am to go watch the sunrise on the rim and the people right next to us left at 5 to catch the shuttle to hike down the canyon. Then the Elk came so we had to get up to go outside and take pictures.  So, off we went before seven to catch the shuttle before the mob comes in.  We headed over to the orange route which is the only way you can see all those stops.  Our bus driver told us that the Elk have overpopulated the park and that some campers have fed them so that is why they like where we are staying.  She said that they have been seen at night looking in the windows of the RV's and one was even watching TV.

   We stopped and walked out to Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, The Abyss, Monument Creek Vista, Pima Point, and Hermits Rest the last stop.   It was great no lines and at some stops we were the only ones there.  Beautiful day so I got some great shots.  The viewpoints along this section one can see the Colorado River Rapids and even hear them.  There were some rafters and kayaks running the rapids and we even could see some of them.  Another stop was where the biggest Uranium mine was and they still have not closed up the mine to take care of the radioactivity. 

  Hermits Rest is where one old French Canadian lived until he died.  You can still see where is home was and the trail to get down there and then to the river.  He worked in a mine and he also was helping the railroad do something.

   The store and building at the Hermit’s Rest is cute.  We took the shuttle back to the campground with transfers and stopped to see the mules and then walked around the Mather NPS campground before going back to lunch.   When we took this shuttle back the shuttles heading west were crowded coming from the Visitor Center and this was only about ten in the morning.   We did enjoy the rest of the day without taking shuttles.  Heading for the North Rim tomorrow, which opens up for the year.  It is only ten miles walking down through the canyon but it is over 150 miles going around.

Monday & Tuesday, May 13 & 14 -  Grand Canyon Trailer Village, Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ

    This is the full hookup campground located in the village of the Grand Canyon – South Rim.  There are some trees but not much shade,it is mostly like a parking lot.  All sites are pull-through, paved with a picnic table, barbecue grill, 30 or 50 amp, cable, water and sewage.  It costs$37 per night and park passes are not accepted.  The Mather NPS campground is right next door with more shade but no hookups and the two campgrounds share shower and camper services.  It is a must to reserve a site for both and calling the campground to see if any sites are open would be advisable.  You are paying for location in the Grand Canyon.  There is a shuttle stop here that takes you around the Village but you will have to get off to get to where you are going since there are three loops for the shuttle.

A market place, grocery store, deli, and food court are available within walking distance or the first stop on the shuttle.   Great place to stay but be warned the shuttles start to get mobbed around 10 in the morning heading west into the village and then in the afternoon around 3 heading east.  In the morning three Elk were in our campsite and I was able to go outside and take some great pictures.  They are use to people and they love this campground.  They are overpopulating the park and some campers are feeding them.  One ranger told us that sometimes at night they even try to look through the window of the RV’s and watch TV.  Their racks were huge and there are not any flowers left in this area because they are eating them all.
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linda on

Karen and George--you have brought back many great memories. Thank goodness we did the mule rides when they were available--it was an experience of a lifetime!! Some of your pictures are absolutely stunning--the colors!!
Did you get up to Second Mesa for the kachina ceremony??

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