Replies: 11 - Last Post: Feb 6, 2013 12:55 PM Last Post By: cavalryroadie
Feb 1, 2013 5:47 PM
Grand CanyonMy friend and I are planning on going to the Grand Canyon during Spring break (March 16-22, 2013). We will be staying at the South Rim, as it is the only place open at that time of year. We are both graduate students on a limited budget. Any suggestions of places we can go and things that we can do that will not cost us an arm and a leg (if there are things we can do that are free, that is even better!)?
Feb 1, 2013 5:51 PM
1There is plenty at the canyon you can do for free! Plenty of hikes and exhibits. And it doesn't cost to browse the items at the Hopi House.
How much of spring break do you actually plan on spending there?
Are you willing to camp?
Feb 1, 2013 6:07 PM
2We are willing to camp. We are renting a car and driving from Iowa. We wouldn't get there until mid-day Saturday the 16th and would have to leave the latest, Thursday afternoon the 21st.
Feb 1, 2013 6:08 PM
3We are willing to camp. We are renting a car and driving from Iowa. We wouldn't get there until mid-day Saturday the 16th and would have to leave the latest, Thursday afternoon the 21st.
Feb 1, 2013 7:05 PM
4That's a 2,800 mile round-trip - and in a rental car, it sounds like an expensive option. Plus historical averages for 18 March show quite cold temperature minimums overnight (well below freezing) for your tent-camping option.
An alternative would be to fly (to Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Flagstaff), and either stay in Flagstaff (has a hostel, and is a pleasant university town), or stay in a basic lodge out at the Grand Canyon Village. You do not need a vehicle at the South Rim - the shuttle bus is free and frequent, and there is nowhere else to go. The hostel runs day-trips to the South Rim, and other places are very accessible (such as Sedona).
Feb 1, 2013 8:47 PM
5See if AMTRAK,(they have a special on coach fares currently) would be a better transport option into Flagstaff... The hostel suggested above is a block from the station... Often travelers at the hostel share a rental car to visit the Canyon & other nearby attractions... carracar
Feb 2, 2013 5:02 AM
Feb 2, 2013 5:27 AM
7Yeah that is a long drive. I've camped in winter. March is not "real winter" but given the altitude of the GC it might seem like it.
I haven't been to the GC, but, as I've said i've camped in winter.
Personally would fly train or bus out there and rent an SUV upon arrival. The purpose of the SUV is that true winter camping equipment can be pretty expensive, and having and SUV might giving you the option of sleeping in it, if your tent and sleeping bag etc. prove to be inadequate, kinda like a back-up plan in case of emergency.
I'm a scout leader and could write pages and pages of advice about winter camping, but it would seem kind of silly to spill it all out here.
Feb 2, 2013 8:48 AM
8You don't say how much time you are allowing for the drive out and back. Five days at the Grand Canyon is a long time unless you are SERIOUS Grand Canyon Hikers or are planning a raft tour through the canyon. There are no rafting tours through the canyon in March as far as I know.
I don't see a problem with driving. If you are Iowa residents, you know about snow and blizzards. Be sure you take a rental car with unlimited mileage. You don't need an SUV. I took my roadster to Las Vegas from Ohio for New Year's Eve a month ago. I only hit one blizzard, in Ohio and Indiana of all places, the result was about a 5-hour delay. I took I-70 over the Rockies west of Denver. I-70 was an uneventful and beautiful drive in both directions. Two nights in "budget" motels will be cheaper than winter camping gear. That assumes two FULL days of driving each way between Iowa and Grand Canyon. In the unlikely event that you do get snowbound on the way, you may still have time for Grand Canyon if you are able to adjust your schedule. The "shortest" Google Maps route takes you right past Arches National Park. That whole region was beneath 4-6 inches of snow a month ago. It was stunningly beautiful.
You may also consider cutting back one or two days at Grand Canyon and sightseeing other places.
Feb 2, 2013 11:21 AM
9Since you're driving right past Arches and Canyonlands anyway, you should without question shave a few days off GC and spend it up there. No question.
As for Grand Canyon, you can probably see all the easily accessible viewpoints, as well as the museums and exhibits, in one very full day, or stretch it a bit to a day-and-a-half to make time for a more leisurely half-day out towards Hermit's Rest (take the shuttle to one viewpoint, walk the rim trail to another and pick the shuttle back up - its a great way to find some relative solitude on the South Rim). Beyond that, you'll have to be interested in hiking below the rim. A walk of any length on any of the trails will be rewarding, but if you're serious about it you could probably do three or so different hikes and have each be unique and worthwhile. This could easily use up 2-3 additional days, depending on how avid you are. I guess we can do private messages anymore on TT...but if you'd like some specific recommendations for more ambitious day-hikes, say so and I'll take a stab at it.
As for backpacking... the national park website says this:
March: Bright Angel and Indian Garden Campgrounds are full the last three weeks; some availability between the 1st and 10th. Many sites in threshold and wild use areas are full the last three weeks. Typically spring arrives this month, and the trails tend to shake free from winter's icy grip.
Camping on the rim in mid-march isn't usually a full-on winter experience, but you can still expect nighttime lows to be below freezing, possibly well below. Heavy snow is not an everyday occurrence in March, but it is not at all uncommon. More likely is cool, clear, breezy weather - but if you're not prepared to deal with actual winter conditions, then at least have a Plan B in place.
Feb 2, 2013 11:35 AM
As an experienced winter camper I recognize good advice, and that was it.
Restated another way:
- buy the "full-winter" equipment
- or buy the Wal Mart stuff and have a back-up plan
- or stay in a cheapie motel.
Sometimes braving out tough conditions can be fun.
Sometimes the tough conditions never come and that's fun too.
A little hand-shivering in the morning never killed anyone, but hypothermia has.
Feb 6, 2013 12:55 PM
11If you can fly into Flagstaff, you can take the Arizona Shuttle (arizonashuttle.com) to Maswik Lodge for $25 - from FLG. The flight to FLG can be a bit pricey, though.
If you don't have a permit, yet, you might have trouble getting one at this late date.
If you aren't an experienced hiker/backpacker, I would not attempt a 4-5 day Tanner/Escalante/Grandview trip. Try something a bit less strenuous/risky, such as Bright Angel or South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch.
Bags feeling light?
Coffee table looking bare?
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