This Winter Break, my family and I took a trip down to Sedona, Arizona to experience the massive Red Rock formations intertwined throughout the laid-back, turquoise-filled city. Each day was a new hike, a new rock and a new view. This combination was the foundation for many wonderful memories for each of my family members. However, it would be hard for both my brother and me to be in Arizona and not go see the Grand Canyon. We could not imagine being only two hours away from one of the most visited National Parks in the country and not experiencing the grand view.
Although we were only able to see the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it was clear why there were so many people there, as well as how it got its name. According to the National Park Service, the Grand Canyon is 227 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and, in some parts, a mile deep. Not only was its size humbling, but from the South Rim, I was unable to see the entire layout. Rather, I had to turn my head, or at least move my eyes, to get the full picture.
The multitude of colors that were displayed were also beautiful. Although there are many different layers of rock that were visible throughout the massive cavern, the two most noticeable rocks, in my opinion, were the Coconino Sandstone, which is the light colored rock a few hundred feet down from the rim, and the Kaibab Limestone, which is the youngest layer in the formation, causing it to be on the top of the rim).
The South Rim, which is the only place my family visited during this time, is made up of a 10-mile stretch of trail for people to walk along and take in the view. However, we made it about a mile up and back from Yaki Point and did some additional walking around the Visitor Center around sunset. During this time, which spanned from the afternoon to night, we came across many friendly individuals from all over the world, as well as some wildlife. My favorite encounter was with a large buck with a rack to match, which calmly leapt into the surrounding trees to be almost out of sight, leaving an adorable fawn in view.
Although about five million people visit the Grand Canyon every year, which means that every day almost 14,000 individuals are in the park, we had this moment to ourselves. Of course, I can imagine other visitors had similar experiences with animals ranging from Cottontail rabbits to Mountain Lions, there is something special about feeling that you are all alone with Mother Nature. However, I think I would want to pass on that special moment alone with a Mountain Lion in nature.
I can imagine that hiking down inside the canyon, or even just at the North Rim, would increase these types of special experiences exponentially. As I stood hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, I was able to see a small, light-brown trail which meandered around until it was out of sight. From my vantage point, I was able to see how intense this hike could be. I also tried to imagine how wonderful hiking inside the Grand Canyon would be.
For years, Native Americans thrived in and around the Grand Canyon. Having an opportunity to be able to spend a few days, or weeks, in the same area with a minimal lifestyle, at least to 2016 standards,, would be something I know I would never forget, and I can imagine others would cherish this experience as well.
According to Enos Mills, who is said to be the founder of our very own Rocky Mountain National Park, “Within National Parks is room — glorious room — room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve.” I hope that one day I, and anyone else wanting a pure experience like this, can go to the Grand Canyon National Park to fulfill an aspect of our lives through the glorious room.
Collegian writer Lindsay Wienkers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave a comment!