It’s a big country. Come along as we explore some of the most well-known, and maybe not so well-known, places in our vast Western states: Alaska’s Kenai Fjords; Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons; the Grand Canyon; Joshua Tree and Zion national parks; Hoover Dam; Arizona’s Antelope Canyon; Idaho’s Shoshone Falls. Some you certainly have heard of, others not. But what they all have in common is the capacity to astonish, especially if you’re seeing them for the first time. Included is information on how to get there from Bellingham or Seattle, and other valuable travel tidbits. Happy trails.
One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is located in northern Arizona. To this day, scientists and archaeologists can’t determine how old it is. The oldest rocks in the canyon — the Vishnu Basement Rocks — are estimated to be about 1.7 billion years old.
Archaeologists have discovered artifacts from human civilizations dating back nearly 12,000 years. Once inhabited by the Pueblo peoples, the American Indian Havasupai tribe still lives on the same land, which they refer to as their ancestral home. Nearly all the Havasupai land was taken and converted to public use when the Grand Canyon was named a forest reserve in 1893 and later a national park in 1919. With the help of major publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, the Havasupai people regained much of their land in 1975. Havasupai translates to “People of the Blue Green Water,” referring to the beautiful turquoise-colored Havasu Falls.
The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River flowing through the area for an estimated 5 to 6 million years, eroding away the rock and clay. Nearly 40 layers of rock are visible on the walls to create a beautiful landscape, contrasting with the crashing river at the bottom.
Among the many caves throughout the walls and structure of the canyon is the Grand Canyon Caverns. Take an elevator down 21 stories to explore sites such as the Crystal Room, the Chapel of the Ages, and the Snowball Palace, all constructed in an underground cave civilization. Different tour options are available, including a ghost tour (check out gccaverns.com to read more and book a tour). These caves date back so far into history that scientists found the remains of a giant sloth dating back to the Ice Age.
Not only is the Grand Canyon intriguing for its appearance, history, and mystery, it’s a great destination for adventure-seekers as well.
Fly Catch a plane from Seattle to Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (about 5 hours, 30 minutes with good connections) and rent a car to drive the scenic 92 minutes north to Grand Canyon National Park.
Drive From Bellingham, figure on 22 hours (approximately 1,400 miles)
Fees Or Permits
$35 vehicle permit (seven-day pass)
$30 motorcycle permit
$20 individual permit admits one person when entering on foot, bicycle, bus, Grand Canyon Railway, or through private rafting trips
Individuals age 15 and younger are admitted for free.
What To Do
Float the Colorado River
Grand Canyon Railway
Take a hike
Places To Eat
El Tovar Dining Room
Yavapai Lodge Restaurant
Pine Country Restaurant
What To See
Mule deer, coyotes, horned owls, and more unique species
A walkway 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. Located on the Hualapai Indian Reservation
Petroglyphs and pictographs line cave walls throughout the park
Where To Stay
Grand Canyon Lodge
North Rim, Ariz.
Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, Ariz.
2019 Naturalization Ceremony
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will team with the Grand Canyon National Park to welcome new United States citizens representing many countries.
Earth Day Celebration
On the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, enjoy a fee-free day. Visitors can participate in the celebrations at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza near Mather Point from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This year, the celebration will feature displays with information about current park conservation efforts and initiatives.
Grand Canyon Star Party
Due to the dark skies and clean air, the Grand Canyon offers one of the best night sky observation sites in the U.S. Volunteers from local astronomy clubs and associations will offer free nightly programs and telescope viewings. In 2019, look for Jupiter and Saturn to “star” in the show.
The Grand Canyon creates its own weather. Sudden changes in elevation have a massive impact on temperature and precipitation. If you’re at the Indian Garden Ranger Station on the North Rim, it might be chilly and raining. However, just five miles away is the hottest and driest point on the canyon, Phantom Ranch.