Stop 12: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

We did not leave Las Vegas until we had visited the In-N-Out Burger location and ate burgers for breakfast. Our road to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim would take us back to southwest Utah, so we decided to make a quick detour to see the Dinosaur Discovery Center in St. George.

 

At this site in 2000, the property owner was leveling a hill on his property when he uncovered hundreds of fossilized dinosaur tracks. It is a major find, and the family set aside the land for scientific and educational purposes. The site charges a modest $6 entry fee and allows visitors to get up close to the tracks, which are preserved forever in giant sandstone slabs. St. George, in prehistoric times, sat on the cusp of a big lake that made the preservation of the tracks possible. We saw tracks from dinosaurs walking, running, swimming, and even sitting. It was pretty cool. 30 minutes later, we were back on the road and almost passed by another In-N-Out Burger, but I loudly protested that it would likely be our last chance, so we stopped in again.

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Fossilized dinosaur track at Johnson Farm

We entered Grand Canyon National Park through the North Rim entrance, which is much less crowded and sits at a higher elevation, making the temperatures a bit cooler than the South Rim. We saw a herd of bison a few miles from the park entrance, which was a first for us. Our campsite was about 25 yards from the rim of Transept Canyon, a magnificent side canyon. We set up camp and drove out to the Walhalla Plateau for some sightseeing. We had heard Cape Royal is an outstanding place to watch the sunset, so we made the 23-mile drive out, found a comfortable vantage point, and sat and watched the sunlight play with the colors of the canyon on the east side of Cape Royal. It was stunning. The Grand Canyon is a place you have to see to grasp. It is so vast and immense, and it makes every other canyon I’ve seen seem small.

The next morning, we woke up early and drove to Point Imperial, the highest vantage point in the entire park. It sits about 8800 feet above the canyon floor. To put things in perspective, from this point on the canyon rim the Colorado River, which carves the canyon, is about 11 km away. It was a beautiful way to start our day. Even though our time at Grand Canyon National Park was short, it is a place that quickly inspires awe.

Next stop: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona – Tijeras, New Mexico

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