The Grand Canyon, which borders Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, is one of the iconic natural wonders of the world. People come from around the world to visit the array of reds, oranges, and yellows carved deep into the Earth. While the view from the rim of the canyon is awe inspiring, the experience from camping in the Grand Canyon offers an entirely different perspective. From the rim, the Colorado River is overlooked and barely seen — only peaking out at certain spots. The sunset rolls over the canyon’s walls as reds and oranges change to blues and purples until the sun finally slips out of view. But inside the canyon, you watch the sun pass over the towering walls around you. The canyon is beautiful regardless of where you see it, but the experience from staying overnight in the canyon is totally different. Here are the 5 unforgettable moments from my experience camping in the Grand Canyon.
Photo via National Geographic
1. Losing count of how many shooting stars we saw
We were camping at the Indian Garden campground, the midway point between the bottom and the rim. The group I was traveling with took a late night walk to a wide open rocky space we could lie down on. From the moment we looked up, we started seeing shooting star after shooting star. They’re a novelty closer to the cities, but here, far from any cities and artificial light, the stars dominated. Every constellation you normally can’t see shone bright. This is an aerial view of Indian Garden:
Photo via The Ultimate Hang
2. Camping on the same grounds as a group of blind hikers
Hearing about the feat of this inspiring group was one thing. Being on the same campground as some of them was another. Hiking with a huge pack on your back all day long will obviously be exhausting, but doing that without being able to see would be unimaginable.Their hike was a 24 mile hike from rim to rim. They were an inspiration and motivation for the next day hiking out of the canyon.
3. Hearing the roar of the Colorado River
As I said earlier, the Colorado River is overlooked from the rim. The river peaks out occasionally, but at the bottom, the river reigns king. It roars over everything else and becomes the main focus for hikers. You would never guess how loud and fast the water is until you see it yourself.
Photo via Flickr/Diana Bradshaw
4. Cooling off in a tiny offshoot of the Colorado River
There are some swimming holes in the Grand Canyon, and we found a small one to rinse off in near the edge of the Colorado River. At the rim there was frost on the ground and we were bundled up in the cold. At the bottom, the temperature was drastically different and the cold water was refreshing after hiking and camping for a few days.
5. Reaching the rim and returning to reality
The bustle of tourists from around the world inundated us. It only solidified the major difference between the two different Grand Canyon experiences. Little did they know what they were missing out on by walking along the rim. And if you’re wondering what the first thing we did when we reached the top… we bought was an ice cream cone. Two scoops, obviously.
What’s your favorite part of the Grand Canyon?