My First Grand Canyon Visit

The first time you plan to visit the Grand Canyon it is wise to plan your trip to take advantage of all there is to see and do that is important to you.  It is your first trip, so you want to make sure you have all the information you need to include those things of interest to you personally to maximize your time and pleasure. 

My first visit to the Grand Canyon was with my parents on a cross country automobile trip from Los Angeles to Minneapolis.  I was about 9 years old.  We drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and spent the night at the Tropicana on the strip.  The next day we drove to Zion National Park I remember my mother, having looked at the map, during our visit in Zion National Park noticed that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was only a short distance off our route.  We drove from Zion to Kanab, UT and got a motel in Kanab mid-afternoon.  The map showed the distance from Kanab to the North Rim to be about 80 miles.  So the adventurer my father and mother were, we drove to the North Rim. 

As I remember, the trip was slow and a bit more arduous than either my mother or father thought it would be due to the massive elevation change, winding road, ponderosa and aspen forests, and lots of deer and elk.  Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim Lodge, we were astounded to see this massive Canyon yawning in front of us with the miles and miles of side canyons, trails, viewpoints and other interesting features. In order to do the Grand Canyon justice, we realized we should have spent the night at the Lodge rather than Kanab, UT.     

We spent the rest of the afternoon and until sunset walking to the various viewpoints, sitting on the front porch of the North Rim Lodge, walking through the gift shops and getting an ice cream cone in the restaurant.  I remember that I thought this was one of the most beautiful places I had ever visited.

Note: my family had traveled from Minneapolis to Los Angeles 5 times before this trip as my father’s business took him back and forth over those years during and after WWII.  He spent 3 to 6 months in Los Angeles then traveled back to Minneapolis where the main office was based.  Each time we traveled across country we would take a different route to see the many interesting historic sites, geologic phenomena, and learn about the people of these areas.  We continued to travel across country about every year until I was 15.  

My parents were very good at giving my sister and me an education about our beautiful land, people and attractions to instill in me how many things we have in our country to be thankful for.  I grew up learning by traveling and experiencing.  My mother was a stickler for reading to my sister and me about everything we were seeing so we would appreciate each area we visited.  So, you guessed it, I have always been an inveterate traveler and because of my mother, as I travel, I read, learn, hike into areas lesser traveled.  Because of my love of this western U.S. and my love of sharing all this information with the people I meet, I continually want to share my knowledge and love with others.

This was my first Grand Canyon experience, and from it I have developed a love of this massively beautiful and diverse part of the U.S.  Since this first visit back in 1949, I have visited; hiked, backpacked, river rafted, photographed, run from rim to rim, run from rim to river and back to the rim, and guided hundreds of people to and thru the Grand Canyon.  

I met my wife at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at one of her many water falls, Ribbon Falls, on one of my North rim to South rim marathon runs.  She was backpacking from the North Rim to the South Rim with some friends.  She took a picture of me with my running pals and we said hello and goodbye, thinking we would probably not see one another again.  Six months later our paths crossed once again when I was training for the Pikes Peak Marathon by running up and down a small mountain in Phoenix getting some trail work in.  After this connection and our mutual love of the outdoors and the Grand Canyon, we struck up a friendship that turned into a more permanent relationship.  As a result of my relationship with Grand Canyon, and Grand Canyons impact on my life, I feel compelled to continue to share my love of this Canyon with more people and help them really get the most out of their Grand Canyon visit. 

Over the last 22 years, my wife and I have traveled all over the west  continuing our growing knowledge of these National Parks, State Parks, natural scenic attractions, scenic byways, learning, studying, photographing, running, and hiking in each of these areas.  In other articles I will share some of our fun and exciting experiences we have had in these areas, like the time I was running a half-marathon in Choteau, Montana and there was a grizzly bear on the course, or the time we were hiking in the Grand Canyon and assisted with a dehydrated pregnant woman who was backpacking with her husband.  Our love of these has become our passion which we love sharing with others.  Over the years I have put together specialized information and itineraries for individuals and groups so they may maximize their pleasure and time during their vacations in the West.  See my other articles for specialized itineraries for your visit to the Grand Canyon as well as other areas in the Western United States.

Grand Canyon will change your life forever; she is timeless and will still be a major life experience for visitors for eons to come. Enjoy, photograph, hike, raft, or just sit on the rim and listen to the silence, you will be forever enriched by your experience. 

11 Responses to My First Grand Canyon Visit

  1. Kathryn says:

    Great article Wayne!! Reminds me of my trips with my parents.

  2. Pingback: » Grand Canyon On A Budget?

  3. Paul says:

    Hey, I am a (so far!) unpublished writer living in the UK and am doing research on a roadtrip from Los Angeles to Minneapolis for a trip that a character in my new novel takes and came across your excellent article. I’ve been to Minneapolis twice and it’s my favourite US city but i’ve never had the chance to take the road trip that I want to write about. So I was wondering if you would be able to help me. Any information you could share would be appreciated, the sights, the sounds, the smells of those journeys. Anything that can help me get a feel for it. If you can help, please contact me at

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