June 19, 2010
My post about the South Rim isn’t too extensive, because honestly we didn’t spend that much time there. We stayed at the El Tovar Lodge, which I highly recommend. It is the nicest hotel there and has the best restaurant too. Much like the North Rim Lodge, the South’s restaurant books up fast so make a reservation in advance! The lodge is historic, counting many presidents as guests. Our rooms were right of the lobby, which was nice because the wifi reached them, but my dad said he could here the night cleaning crew, which kept him up. I didn’t hear them, but I wouldn’t strongly recommend those rooms, because you might and if you’re hiking the next morning you want a good night sleep. The restaurant is wonderful, everything is fresh and mostly organic and they serve three meals a day.
The hotel is basically on the rim, really its just a few feet away, but it doesn’t have the same deck and “right on the rim” feeling that the North Rim Lodge has. It is atop the Canyon and when you walk down a bit you can see the El Tovar perched on the edge of the rocks. There is a nice ledge though that you can sit on and look out at the canyon below.
There is a lot of wildlife to see here too, including condors, deer, bobcats, mountain lions, mountain goats, chipmunks, squirrels….the list goes on and on. We didn’t see any of the big game except for deer, and we saw A LOT of them! They were everywhere and they let you get pretty close, which I did to take photos, but remember these are wild animals so be careful!
There are many historic sites to visit, but with limited time we only went to two. We stopped at the Desert View Watch Tower, which was fun to see. It was constructed in 1932 based off the design of prehistoric Indian towers in the area. It is a very easy climb to the top and the view is nice. Unfortunately it was under construction while we were there, so we could climb it, but it was noisy and the windows were filthy making photo taking out of them not an option.
The South Rim’s lodges are much more spread out than the North Rim and we drove to the Watch Tower on our way into the park, but you can walk to other sites like the studio. There is also a shuttle right next to the studio that goes on different routes throughout the complex and to different viewpoints. The first stop on the shuttle goes to a viewpoint where a rock juts out over the edge of the canyon, it is a wonderful spot to stop and take pictures of yourself looking like you are right at the edge of the rim. (Don’t worry in reality there are some landings below so if you fall you would only be gravely injured, not dead.)
The studio is a five minute walk from the El Tovar. Kolb Studio was started by the Kolb brothers in 1904 as a way for them to make money while living at the Grand Canyon. They would photograph tourists as the descended the canyon and would create the prints for them to buy by the time they got back up. These images now provide an amazing record of the early visoters including Teddy Roosevelt, who wore a bow tie on his mule on the way down!!! (This was a bet I made with my dad that I won!!!)
The views at the South Rim are equally spectacular as those to the North and I had a great time photographing both. We were going to take the shuttle out to the last stop to see a different perspective, but we ran out of time. I also started to get bored of a million slightly different perspectives on the same area. Also by that time we had finished the helicopter tour and my attitude was nothing will be better than that. It was raining our last day, luckily it rained on the North Rim first so we stayed dry, but saw beautiful shades of gray clouds and then took off before it rained on the South Rim. Be sure to pack a variety of clothes no matter what time of year you go, it’s desert and the weather changes often and sometimes quickly! I’ll leave you with a tip for photographing: the Grand Canyon is one of the most photographed places on earth, it is really hard to get a unique photograph there that doesn’t look like all the others and many of you might fret over less than ideal conditions for picture taking like looking into the sun or an extremely gray sky. My tip is to embrace your circumstances and try to make the best out of it. Emphasize the beautiful gray sky with its dark and light clouds and let it dominate half your frame. If the sun is in your picture let the tones and fading shades emphasize the vastness of the space. Sometimes you just don’t have the light you need for your picture, but for the most part see your circumstances as a challenge and find a way to make it work and create a beautiful image that will serve as a great reminder of your trip!