The closest route to Grand Canyon was Desert View Drive, a right turn from Highway 89 going South. However, that road was closed because of the fire, so we had to go all the way to Flagstaff and then back up North to reach the park. The issue with the tire persisted.
Driving at night trying to find gas stations where we could get some air was a memorable experience. A large part of Highway 89 from Page to Flagstaff lies within the borders of Navajo Nation Indigenous Territory. The rampant decay was showing along the road.
Several gas stations we stopped at looked like they were built in the 80s and abandoned ever since. Poor homeless folks were lingering in the night asking for money, trying to follow us into the darkness. In a limping Ёжmobile, we kept on driving…
Finally in the morning we reached Flagstaff and found a mechanic shop that was open. They pulled a giant screw out of our tire and fixed the rip. Now ready and fresh, we headed back North to the park.
In Grand Canyon two things were in the bucket list: going on the rim and to take in the infinity of it, and descending down and experiencing it from within. The first day we dedicated to the rim by hitting some classic spots reachable by car.
Grand Canyon was open with limitations because of COVID. Similar to other parks backcountry camping was prohibited, so it could (officially) be explored by day only. A raging wildfire shut down the Northern part. Our exploration options were a bit limited, but the crowds were small (compared to the usual hangs, from what I gathered).
In the vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park we scored the most incredible campsite in Kaibab National Forest. Just a short 15 min drive South and the sunlit forest meadow was ours!
There were pine trees everywhere; one big turn and the hill secluded our campsite so we didn’t hear cars from the nearby highway at night. Birds were singing in the trees, sun rays were bright and we got super lucky with the weather – the place was idyllic.
On our first morning camping I woke up at 5am from a strange dream. It was chilly and something was moving outside the tent… Something BIG. I looked up below the tent fly and there is a big black COW! Jackson instinctively started yelling at it, scaring it away, and this was the time when I really saw a cow run full speed! It was quite impressive, but also a poor thing!!
A little bit later I noticed a baby and another adult cow casually walking past us. There were no other cars or RVs nearby for the 3 days we stuck around. This might have been the best spot of them all during the trip.
There are a few smaller hikes you can do around the South rim, including the trail that runs along Hermit road. Usually the road is accessible by a shuttle bus, which makes it easy to hop between various vantage points or do a casual hike.
This time because of COVID the shuttle service was suspended. The driveway to the shuttle route was closed as well and the park police was on patrol, so we were out of luck for an easy access.
So on our second day we just walked up to Hopi point and back. We saw soaring Peregrine falcons, an abandoned uranium mine and learned about Grand Canyon exploration history.