The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and 1 mile deep! It has been carved over the last 1,800 million years by the Colorado River, and from the top you can just about make the river out today winding it's way through the bottom of the canyon
. We spent the next day walking a ten mile trail on the south rim of the canyon, which seemed to us like a marathon, but in reality is a relatively tiny section. We had a really nice day walking, got a bit sunburnt, took in some amazing views, and kept our eyes open for the elusive mountain lion that calls this place home. The photos really don't do this place justice; everything seems out of perspective, and at one point you can see some mountains that are 54 miles away from the canyon, but they look as if you could walk to them in half an hour. The river in the bottom has over 100 rapids that are so treacherous they are rated on a scale of 1 - 10, rather than the conventional 1 - 5 rating for white water rafting, but no sound at all escapes the canyon, and standing on the rim 1 mile up it's completely silent. It's such a cool place to see and experience - it makes you feel so small and insignificant yet empowered at the same time.
Luckily for us the park has a free shuttle bus and we were spared a 10 mile return leg at the end of the day and jumped on at Hermit's Rest for a ride back to where we'd parked the car. The half hour journey also provided great comedy value as the woman driving the bus was a complete lunatic, insisting on shouting as loud as she could down the tannoy at every available opportunity, including sightings of deers, mules, illegally parked vehicles, other bus drivers etc. Even funnier was when the silly old bat forgot to turn her tannoy off whilst having a go at her co-pilot, who was a sweet, quiet middle-aged man who clearly didn't deserve his public ear-bashing in front of a bus packed with tourists! When we got back to the campground Dan managed to help out a couple of germans who had a problem with their campervan, had a couple of warm beers and needless to say were exhausted by the end of all this and crashed.
We intended on an early start from Cortez to make the drive via Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. As ever, whenever we plan to get up early, we seem to leave later than ever, but never mind! The drive into Arizona was cool, we didn't venture too far into Monument Valley but it looked awesome, just like you see in the westerns, and we had a quick lunch there. We finally arrived at the Grand Canyon just as the sun was beginning to set. We were lucky and bagged one of the last spots in Desert View Campground within the national park, and went for a short walk down to the canyon just as the sun disappeared behind it. Beautiful - the sky was bright pink, orange, red and once completely dark the stars were super clear, especially as the moon didn't rise until a few of hours after sunset.