One of my favorite things about being out here has been the proximity of so many National Parks. California has nine, Utah has five and Colorado has four (Alaska has eight, but that’s not within reach). Kentucky is surrounded on all sides by states that have National Parks, in addition to its own. But all of those states combined have six total parks. It’s not even close.
So, after visiting Zion, I made my way south to the Grand Canyon. It was actually much different than I anticipated. For some reason, I had in my head that the Grand Canyon was basically a big, long hole in the ground surrounded by desert. It couldn’t have been more different.
The first thing I noticed was the forest I drove through to get there. Many pines and other year-round trees paving my way to the canyon, due mostly to another surprising fact: the elevation. It’s about 7,000 feet above sea level, which explains the climate.
Once in the park, there was more forest all along the rim and different types of trees all through the canyon, changing depending on the various climates in the canyon itself. It’s such a complex ecosystem that I wouldn’t have guessed had I never been.
I stopped at a couple of the viewpoints and went down part of one of the trails. I didn’t go very far, which is probably good because it was a struggle getting back up. It’s something that I underestimated about this trip, but I do wish I was in better shape. I’d be more capable of exploring some of these areas and seeing new things. But as I said before, it just gives me more goals for the future.
In the gift shop, I learned that the Grand Canyon has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park, just this summer. This means that its one of the more than sixty places in the world that are the best for stargazing. The low light pollution lends itself to this and gives me further reason to go back to the park.
After leaving the park, I headed for nearby Prescott, Arizona. It’s a place I’ve always had eyes for, largely because it’s relatively inexpensive and near some forestry. Much like many of the places I’ve been, however, it didn’t resonate with me. Pictures can only tell so much of the story, and as I said before, the people will truly explain the place you’re in.
So, for the first time in the last three weeks, I got a hotel room. And it was much needed. A proper shower and bed were really great, and it was nice to not have to rearrange my car. And the complimentary breakfast in the morning would prove to be very necessary for my journey the next day: Sedona.