What It's Like Visiting The Grand Canyon Right Now
Is the Grand Canyon on your bucket list? Thinking a pandemic might get in your way? If you're comfortable with travel right now, don’t rule it out! These strange times have silver linings to them, and we found several on our recent visit.
I found the National Park Service website very clear and recommend to check it regularly when planning your visit and then again shortly before you go, in the event that there have been changes. Side note, be sure to check-out the online Pocket Map which you can use for planning and get when you arrive.
One great silver lining of travel right now is availability! Although we finalized plans just a week in advance, we were able to book a reasonably priced room at Yavapai, one of the Canyon lodges. THIS NEVER HAPPENS!, and covid-19 protocols were very strong.
I created a rough plan for the day with some prioritization between my ‘nice to have’ and ‘must do’ elements. I found the Earthtrekker’s blog to be extremely helpful in this.
If you’re planning to go beyond basic vantage points by venturing into the Canyon, you’ll want gear such as walking sticks, broken-in hiking boots, plenty of water and snacks, quality sunscreen. Just as importantly, make sure that your fitness level matches your itinerary.
We left Las Vegas shortly after noon with hopes of making it to the Grand Canyon in time for sunset. Unfortunately I forgot that we would lose an hour going from Nevada to Arizona so we didn’t make it in time.
My mistake meant that we drove the last 30 miles or so in the dark which can be a challenge… it’s really, really dark. It can makes the experience all the more spectacular, but be aware.
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center itself was closed but there were clear signs giving us all the information we needed.
We took the Orange bus to South Kaibab Trailhead where we began our decent of 790 feet into the canyon, a 1.8 mile round trip. This hike was exactly what we wanted – an extraordinary opportunity to spend 2.5 hours below the rim, but not too difficult a hike for beginners
Many on the trail wore masks either when approaching others or for the full hike. Everyone was courteous. Basically, you don’t need to wear a mask the whole time, but people are kind as if you pass in a narrow area.
As may not be surprising, there are fewer people at the Canyon than typical for this time of year. This meant ability to park near the visitor center and no problem getting a seat on the bus even with its socially distanced capacity limitation.
We explored leisurely at Yaki point and Maher point via the Orange bus route in the early afternoon, and both were near empty.
If the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, as odd as it may sound right now, there’s hardly been a more enjoyable time to visit.