Eat. Sleep. Hike (at the Grand Canyon)

Written By Ami Sekhon

The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and a bucket list item that many avid travellers are keen to tick off. Located in Arizona, it is a 277 mile-long canyon, forged over 17 million years ago by the Colorado River. This Summer I had the opportunity to spend two nights in this majestic demonstration of Mother Nature’s work, as part of a larger group tour of the American West Coast.

I first laid my eyes on the Canyon from Mather Point. This observation point is one of the most popular places to view the Canyon from, and if I am completely honest because of the popularity of this point my initial experience of the Canyon was that of disenchantment. It was very crowded and had a disconnected over-touristy atmosphere. Thankfully the experiences still to come changed my view, however, I feel it is worth pointing out that many visitors only drive through on their way to another destination. If Mather Point was your only experience of seeing the Grand Canyon then I feel you would leave with an untrue image of what truly is a magical place.

After thirty minutes we left Mather Point and headed to our accommodation, Yavapai Lodge. There are a variety of options when it comes to accommodation in the Park, from camping to luxury hotels all budgets can be catered for. We stayed in a middle-budget Lodge, which was located on the edge of a forest. The scent of pine trees permeates the air and there is a distinct sound of silence. There is a feel of 1950’s Americana, as if we had stepped back in time to a place where the pace of life was slower and simpler. The accommodation almost blended into the environment, adding to the throwback feel. Whilst being very simple and not high-end luxury, the Lodges were more than adequate with the whole arrangement bringing a notion of escapism and back-to-nature vibes.

The Yavapai Lodges are a short stroll away from the South Rim visitor centre, where you can find a supermarket, a restaurant, cafés and a bank. Most people tend to treat a stay at the Grand Canyon as a way of getting back to nature, with the majority either buying food in the supermarket, which they will later cook over a campfire, or get a quick bite to eat in the café. There is also a distinct lack of wifi across the park, except for a couple of hotspots such as around the bank. It can be a real test to see how you really fare without access to the outside world and social media!

Our first afternoon in the Park was spent gaining our bearings and decompressing in the stunning forest surroundings. The National Park has a curfew on loud noise after 10 pm, which meant no wild parties and keeping our voices to an acceptable level! So that evening we sat on the chairs provided outside our Lodges, drank wine and enjoyed quiet conversations and the lack of light-polluted skies before retiring for an early night.

The next morning we took a short drive over to the Grand Canyon Airport to take a helicopter tour of the Canyon. In the small (tiny!) Airport there was a buzz of excitement amongst the many people waiting to see the Canyon this way. Every passenger is discreetly weighed (to ensure a safe load distribution in the helicopters) then assigned to a helicopter. The Airport staff are very jovial and friendly which adds to the excitement. We were loaded up six to a helicopter then off we went! The pilot played uplifting, fitting-to-the-occasion music through headsets and after flying over the forest for around 10 minutes we reached the Canyon. What struck me the most about seeing the Canyon this way was that it allowed you to truly appreciate just how much the colour of the Canyon varies depending on how the sunlight hits it. From dusky purple-grey rocks when in the shade, to jaw-dropping rich orange and reds when flooded by sunlight. The pilot gave us a guided tour, indicating points of interest and giving us history on the Canyon and the Hualapai tribe that still live at the bottom of it.

That afternoon I had the opportunity to hike the Canyon. My initial thought was that nothing could surpass seeing the Canyon by helicopter, I was wrong! To really experience the Canyon I strongly suggest you hike down it. There are several hiking trails making experiencing the Canyon this way accessible for all fitness abilities. I opted for the popular South Kaibab trail. This trail was fairly heavily populated with hikers from all over the world. There is also the option to take a guided mule trek down the Canyon, which meant those of us on foot had to occasionally stop to let the mules pass. With the paths being very narrow and slippery in places this wasn’t always easy! The views across the Canyon are breathtakingly beautiful, only heightened by witnessing a stunning thunderstorm in the distance. Due to the intense heat and the time I was taking to stop and take photographs, I decided to stop at the aptly-named ‘Ooh Aah Point’ and make my return back up from there. It was only once I was actually in the Canyon that I genuinely appreciated why this place has been crowned a Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.

That evening we decided to take a picnic and watch the sunset over the Canyon. The Visitor Centre staff are very helpful in advising where best to catch the sunset, and at what time, depending on the time of year that you are there. There is a free shuttle bus system operating throughout the Park. This is a very reliable, quick and easy way to navigate the park and see as much as possible during your stay. We caught the shuttle bus to a recommended spot and settled in with food, drink and good conversation. Whenever I travel I always like to catch a sunset and a sunrise, and the sunset over the Grand Canyon certainly did not disappoint. The colours of the rock changed as the sun lowered with Mother Nature once again proving that no one can put on a cinematic display in quite the same way that she can.

Verdict – whatever your budget, vacation-style and whether you are travelling solo or in a group, you will not be disappointed by the Grand Canyon. It is more than just a visual spectacle; it is an all-encompassing experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself” – John Wesley Powell

About the Author:
Ami Sekhon is a UK-based motivational speaker, vlogger and podcaster. Drawing on personal experiences and living by the philosophy of ‘Just Say Yes’, Ami aims to squeeze the most out of life, find the adventure in the everyday and share the secrets to doing this with the World. Head over to her Instagram –

Jia singh
About me

I am a Delhi-based nutritionist, food & wellness consultant and freelance features writer. I write for a variety of different magazines and websites in India and overseas on restaurants, travel, wellness and food.


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