Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Grand Canyon National Park
This is our forth visit and we’re still in awe. Each viewpoint looks different and the scenery constantly changes with the weather and time of day. This early in the season the park isn’t overly crowded but expect cool temperatures and sporadic showers.
Accessibility along the rim has improved a lot since we visited six years ago. The trail from South Kaibab Trailhead to Bright Angel Lodge, a distance of about 7 miles, is wide and completely paved. There are a few steeps spots so wheelchair users may need to have help. The trail has a gradual downhill slope from east to west. The shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible (scooters may be too large) so it’s possible to do a section of the trail and take a shuttle back to your vehicle. The park website has very good information about accessibility and brochures are available at the park entrance stations.
The roads to Yaki Point and Hermits Rest are restricted to shuttles but a Scenic Drive Permit allows visitors with mobility issues vehicle access. The first viewpoint parking lots along the road to Hermits Rest are small with little room for RVs. The canyon is viewable from parking areas at most of the viewpoints. Most of the trail along this section of road is not accessible due to narrow pavement or dirt paths however the last mile is accessible and has great viewpoints. The building at Hermits Rest is supposed to be accessible but we didn’t find the right entrance.
Desert View Drive does not have shuttle service. Most of the lots have RV parking spots. Most have curb cuts from the lot to the viewpoint pathways. The Desert Watch Tower is accessible on the first level. The Tusayan Museum and the short, paved, interpretive trail are accessible.
The historic section of Grand Canyon is known as the Village. Most of the buildings are from the early 1900s and are not totally accessible. Verkamp’s Visitor center is accessible but the entrance door is very heavy. The first floor of the Hopi House is accessible. The first floor of the El Tovar Hotel is accessible. Bright Angle Lodge is accessible. The gift shop section of Lookout Studio is accessible. Kolb Studio is not accessible. The train Depot is accessible.
The Geology Museum and the main visitor center located east of the Village are both accessible.
There are three campgrounds on the south rim, Mather Campground which gets booked up fast (but check recreation.gov for cancellations),Trailer Village, a full hookup concession operated RV park, and Desert View Campground which is not reservable and closed in the winter. The accessible sites at Mather Campground, where we stayed for two nights, did not fill even over the weekend. The accessible sites are close to the restrooms and have slightly wider parking pads than the other sites. The campground roads and most of the sites are tight. RVs are limited to 30’ at both Mather and Desert View. In addition to the campgrounds very nice boondocking opportunities are located close to the park. We stayed two nights just a mile off of the main park road in the Arizona Kaibab National Forest. (This is one of those free campsites that is so nice you kind of hate to tell anyone about it. :-) ) Boondocking is also available near the south entrance of the park along Fire Road 688.
Visitors with RVs will be given a parking and restriction guide upon entering the park. We didn’t have any problems driving or parking but RV parking is very limited during busy times.
Park 36.05856, -112.10636 Boondocking 35.95961, -111.9583