Grand Canyon, Arizona

When you’re a three-hour ride away from one of the great natural wonders of the world, you obviously re-route your trip to include it, which is exactly what I did when I knew we’d be going down Route 66 to California. Just an hour and a half north of Williams, Arizona lies the Grand Canyon, one of the largest natural wonders of the world at 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft. deep. 

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Being that large, it’s no surprise that you can visit the Grand Canyon National Park from many angles. The South Rim’s Geology Center offers insight into the history of the area, eroded by millions of years of water coursing over hard rock. The Colorado River winds through the canyon, making striking twists and turns best seen if you travel down into its depths or look from far above. 

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The West Rim is where you can find the famed skywalk, where you can walk out over the Grand Canyon and look down at the thousand-plus foot drop. Safely conquer your fear of heights—the cantilevered glass bridge is strong enough to withstand the weight of a dozen 747s, so it’ll probably hold up.

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Find Arizona Jack and his home-made beef jerky in Valle, Arizona, just south of the South Rim.

The North Rim contributes only a fraction of the Grand Canyon’s total visitors and is a much more wild and rustic scene. Winter snowfalls make it inadvisable to walk or hike in the area, so this region of the park is only available for a brief season (May to October).

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Other tributaries of the canyon offer gorgeous sights but may require permits to visit, like the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Friends of mine went a while back, hiking down to the bottom of the canyon and camping out for several days, and brought back some of the most glorious photos and definitely fun stories, so I’m still itching to go there!

Regardless of where you go—any side, top or bottom—the views of natural beauty are sure to be absolutely incredible!

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While I was freaking out about how absolutely amazing the world around us was, my mom was wigging for a different reason. The steep cliffs were making my more agile-footed siblings want to go rock climbing. This, clearly, is not advised.

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Bold signs tell travelers to explore at their own risk and most areas have a thick iron railing to dissuade idiotic adventuring. 

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My mother was determined to not make headlines (tales of someone getting injured or dying from their adventures in the huge park make the news on an annual basis) and made sure to yell at us regularly to stay six feet away from the edge. 

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This squirrel was better at following directions than Scotch and Georgie were.

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As we left, she decided she’d had enough of the Grand Canyon and that we were aging her by being daredevils. Yet another case of “If I didn’t have young children, this might be more fun”. All jokes aside, she still loves the death-defying hooligans and, as wonderful as it is, we would probably give up the Grand Canyon for them.

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I can’t pick a favorite sibling, but my favorite US National Park, currently, is the Grand Canyon. It’ll take an awful lot to change my mind. XoXx, Fernweh

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