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Kirk Wood

Grand Canyon in April...

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It has been about 10 years since we have visited the Grand Canyon and so we are thinking of adding a stop there after we leave Escapade in Tucson. We will likely visit southern CA first to see Pam's family and then route back to the canyon on our way back to east TX. Who has spent time at the canyon recently and what do you feel is most important to spend some time visiting and what might we want to avoid?

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The mule trail ride to the bottom is worthwhile to me. Depending on how the sun shines, literally, every time you turn a corner you have a new beautiful vista to look at. I also thought it was fun to descend into the past. Every different layer of earth you pass thru is from a different time of earth's age.

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The mule trail ride to the bottom is worthwhile to me. Depending on how the sun shines, literally, every time you turn a corner you have a new beautiful vista to look at. I also thought it was fun to descend into the past. Every different layer of earth you pass thru is from a different time of earth's age.

I wonder about the physical requirements.... Would I still be able to walk when I got back to the top? That has been on my list but lately have wondered about my physical conditioning. Do you recall the cost?

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We were there a few years ago. They now have a shuttle system all over the South Rim, it is convenient but time consuming. We also found that parking was more available at Desert View. The lot was mostly empty.

 

You can do the mule ride halfway down, then it is a one dayer. If you go to the bottom I think you stay overnight. Took it 35 years ago and remember being achy the next day but that is to be expected.

 

If you have never been to the North rim you should put that on your to do list. It is a long drive from South Rim to North Rim but well worth it. It is totally different and not many people go there. Make sure it is open before you start.

 

While in the North rim area you could visit Antelope Canyon. When the sun is high is the best time to go.

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I've done the one-nighter to the bottom on a mule. It was either April or May. Cold on the south rim and hot at the bottom (Phantom Ranch, I recall). The views are spectacular. I was about 43 at the time carrying about 25 extra pounds and not as active as I should have been. Each step of the mule going down was a jolt and started to wear on me. I did have difficulty walking when I got off at the end of the day. A heavy dose of Advil probably would have helped. The ride back up the next day was much easier. Something about going up hill smooths out the mule's gait so it wasn't a problem for me.

 

All that said, as long as you don't have back problems I would consider it. It's a view and experience like none other. You really appreciate how amazing the canyon is, plus get a look at the river and the rapids.

 

I don't recall the price, but do remember that you need to make reservations for the ride early. I do remember that we had to fuss with our schedule to make it fit the time when we could get the mule trip.

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Kirk, I did this 10 years ago or so, I do remember being tired at the bottom, but not physically beaten. But that was before several health issues that I now have.

In my mind, yes I would do a day trip, half way down the canyon still. I would just "Prepare" myself ahead of time with some Aleve or Advil or whatever works for you.

The north side is a great idea as well.

One thing about the canyon. Every time I have been it always looks different. The same rock formation will have a completely different color pattern to it in 2 hours time. Well worth the stop.

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Since you are coming from the West, the Skywalk on the West rim is well worth doing. We stayed at Kingman, AZ, and drove up for the day. Pretty and interesting with different views besides just the usual North and South rims.

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The Skywalk, in my opinion, is way overpriced and it's not even over the main canyon.

 

I'd recommend staying in the park itself, if possible. Trailer Village has full hookups; Mather and Desert View is dry camping. With your small RV you'd fit in any of them. Trailer Village has access to the free shuttle but Desert View does not. It's at the quiet east end of the park. You would have to take your car to the main section and park and then use the shuttle.

 

Using the shuttle you can get on and off at intervals to walk the Desert Rim trail - fairly flat and right on the edge. I'd also recommend to at least walk down the Bright Angel Trail if only for 1/8 mile or so. It will give you an altogether perspective of the canyon. Remember.... you have to walk back uphill and it's steep so be mindful of how far you walk down and carrying lots of water.

 

April should be a nice time to be there.

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Make reservations soon. Stay at Mather CG unless you like RV Parks and need hookups. Spend a week and take your time exploring without rushing. Walk the Rim trails at sunrise and sunset.

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We were thinking of staying at Trailer Village for at least 3 days and possibly as long as a week. With Pam's back problems the mule ride is out for her but I'm leaning to the half way trip, even at 74. I'd like to do the overnight but suspect that I'm too out of shape now. We both used to ride a lot but haven't owned horses in 25+ years so...............

 

Does the free bus service pretty much cover the entire park now?

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I would allow more like 5 days I think. I may be wrong but I though at one time the bus to many of the vistas only operated at the busy part of the season but that may have changed. There is a shuttle that moves you around the park like to the store and some points of interest then there is the one that takes you out to many of the overlooks to the west-? On that one you get off and walk out to the overlook then comeback and catch the bus to the next one you want to see. I assume you have looked at all this on the park site so maybe you will understand what I am trying to explain. I had always heard that the mule ride was usually booked up sometimes a year out. When I was there last I was having a good bit of issue with mobility but was able to get around enough to enjoy it. I don't know if you are interested but I took the train out of William's into the park one day and then drove in the next. I don't know about April but the 1st. time I tried to see the park I ended up nearly getting snowed in sleeping in the back of the truck in just a camper shell. Trying to get out I got myself stuck really early in the morning but was blocking the road and eveyone coming in behind me had to help me get going again. Just as i was almost out of the park I passed a tour bus that had gently slid off the road but I didn't stop so I could get to the 1st. phone to notify the athorities. It was way different and more built up when I went in last about late Sep or early Oct 2015.

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Last April we camped at Williams, AZ. The next morning we took the antique railroad train from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spent the day hiking, sightseeing, and had a good lunch. Late in the afternoon we took the train back to Williams. On the return trip the train was "robbed" by cowboys riding horses. (It gets robbed every day on the return trip.) During the train rides a hostess gave an informative narrative of the landscape we were seeing. The train ride round trip costs about $60 for a basic seat up to around $100 for the luxurious coach. We rode in the cheap seats. It was a fun day and we would probably do it again. We camped in the RV park adjacent to the railroad depot. As others have mentioned, book early as the South Rim events get busy.

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As 2gypsies said the Grand Canyon NP website has great info about the shuttle buses here:

 

Also there is lots of excellent info about the park on their website here.

 

Here is a link to a map and list of services and activities for the South Rim.

 

Here is a link to an archived edition of the Park Newspaper. The park as discontinued the newspaper, but the one I linked to is the spring 2015 edition.

 

If you want to have an excellent idea of what weather & temps to expect in April check out the Weather Underground monthly history calendars for the last 4 years. You can go back farther in time with just a few clicks of your mouse. The location for this weather station is at the Grand Canyon airport, 10 or 15 miles south of the rim, but almost at the same elevation as the rim.

 

2016

2015

2014

2013

 

In general the weather is bright sun and temps in the upper 50's to 60's with some 70's and with the lows below freezing.

 

Many of the lows in April are in the 20's with an very infrequent dip into single digit if you happen to hit the exact right conditions. Just keep and eye out on the weather forecast to be sure you don't get caught in 8 degree weather. It is less than a days drive towards Phoenix or over to I-40 east of Flagstaff to Winslow and Holbrook where the low temps wouldn't be so bad.

 

The great part of being in an RV is if the weather forecast is really, really cold, just leave for lower elevations and warmer temps.

Edited by Al Florida

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Thanks for all of the information! Looks like 3 of the bus routes will be running. Temperatures seem likely to be a bit lower than I was thinking while some things seem to be pretty much as I expected. I always prefer to get my advice from folks who have been there, done that. We haven't been there this early in the past, as previous trips were in early or late summer. Additional advice, suggestions, or just comments are very welcome. As always, you are a great source of information and a big savings of research time.

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As we all know you can't count on recorded temperatures. We were there in February one year wearing shorts!

Actually I "always" depend on recorded temperatures. I just don't depend on silly things like "average" temps or max high or low temps.

 

The ONLY recorded temps I rely on are the historic temps such as are found in the links I gave earlier in this topic. The ones which go to Weather Underground, show in the actual temps for the month where you can go back for years and years to see what the temps in a place are really like.

 

These historic temps show you that in general you may have mostly weather you will be happy with, combined with an occasional period of nasty weather, or perhaps the opposite.

 

When I see a place has temps and weather I would be comfortable with the vast majority of the time, I will go there and keep my eye on the weather. If really bad weather is predicted, then we move.

 

This has worked really well for us. Oh, we do get caught with unpleasant weather every now and then. Usually just for a few days and then the nice weather is back again. This way we get to go places without all the crowds of people around.

 

Even during the times of the year that a place has the nice warm temps everyone wants, sometimes nasty weather appears.

 

It is just the luck of the draw with the weather sometimes.

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Kirk,

Have a cocktail or glass of wine on El Tovars outside patio at sunset.

Stroll though Kolb Studio as they always have a art show downstairs.

Lounge in El Tovars lobby especially if the fireplace is going.

We are always on the lookout for the Condors and Elk and have been spotting Bighorn sheep below the rim.

If you bicycle there are a lot of great bike trails to cruise.

Rim trail is great for just walking and wildlife spotting.

Bright Angel Lodge has a room with some nice old history of canyon.

Take the shuttle out to hermits rest,many stops on the way.

This is all free stuff to do except the drink on the patio.

Edited by mesa

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