The first part of our trip, we decided that we wanted to see some of Route 66 and camp at the Grand Canyon. This combined two of my favorite hobbies : Photographing old signs, and camping with my dog Chico. There are probably way too many photos in this post lol.
The first night we stayed at the KOA in Kingman, AZ, which was a little weird as it was at the end of a residential street, however, the staff was really nice. Staying here meant that the next morning we could catch some old signs in Kingman, and then drive the longest intact stretch of Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman, and then through Williams, AZ to Mather Campground on the South Rim in Grand Canyon. Also, after driving 8 hours I didn’t feel like cooking and this KOA was close to many restaurants.
Route 66 is such an iconic piece of history, but it can also be very heartbreaking as you drive through the mostly abandoned cities that were devastated by the 40. This stretch of Route 66 however has been somewhat revived, and was really fun to stop and take photos at historic gas stations and stores, with plenty of old cars for eye candy.
It only took us a few hours to drive this stretch, and we arrived at Mather Campground on the South Rim at the Grand Canyon around 1 PM, set up camp, and then hiked the Rim Trail. Dogs are allowed in the campgrounds and on top side trails, but not into the canyon, which was fine by me as I am afraid of heights!
We booked online through Recreation.gov and this was new for us! When we went to book, there were no “tent” sites left, but quite a few “standard non electric” and I did plenty of searches to make sure that tents could use these sites as well as RVs. This site had a pull thru drive, so it was quite large, with the back of it being woods with deer in them. I could see my neighbors tents and RVs, but it was nothing like some of the super cramped campgrounds that I have stayed at, and I don’t mind other people being around. I’ve noticed though, that the amount of real estate that you get for a site at National Parks can be anywhere from small to super large and private, all for the same $18. We went in September and only made our reservation about a week beforehand and still got a great spot, but it was pure luck. The campground was Full on the day we arrived. These same things held true for our Rocky Mountain National Park site at Moraine Campground.
Mather Campground is close enough to just walk to the Rim Trail, but we drove to the main parking lot so we could see EVERYTHING! On our drive we saw a large General Store Grocery Market, and then at the parking area we got to read all the info boards, etc.
The main tourist areas at the South Rim in the Grand Canyon have safety barriers. I don’t have a ton of photos, because I got vertigo even walking close to the edges with the barriers. In other sections without the safety barriers, I had to walk as far away from the edge as possible, meanwhile Chico would’ve loved to walk right on the edge! I saw people doing the craziest things, prompting me to wonder how many people a year fall to their death for a good photo. ( Only 2 to 3 a year from falling)
We did about 6 miles all together, could’ve done more but it was rather warm and I was starving! Along the rim trail there were places to fill your water bottles up with fresh spring water from the Grand Canyon, tasty! We even ran into a geological lecture that was fun! For dinner we decided to drive to the Grand Canyon Village which is the main South Rim Hotel area inside the park. I had no idea if I would find something here, but knew that I could also drive 10 mins out of the park for some food….or cook some. Luckily we found a food court! We ate at our camp site and then took a nice walk around the campground.
The next day we did some of the Rim Trail nearer to Grand Canyon Village, we saw deer while driving to the area, and while parking. I guess that they even go into the campgrounds, but we had no such luck this trip. This part of the Rim Trail was also mostly barrier free, and some of it was quite scary to me lol.
It was really a beautiful and amazing experience, and I’m so happy that I got to experience it with Chico. One day and night was really enough for us because of my heights issue, however, there were other top side trails that we could’ve explored, or we could’ve explored outside of the park. I was anxious though to get to the Midwest and see my parents. I found Mather Campground to be awesome to camp with a dog, and would stay there again. The bathroom on our Juniper loop had flush toilets, and electricity–which I needed to charge my phone since I couldn’t do it in the rental car. My solar panel was too small to be the main source, so I ended up ordering a bigger one, and had it sent to my parents house. Gotta love Amazon Prime!
We also bought the America the Beautiful pass here for $80, which is good for free admission for a year to all National Parks and federal Recreation sites, and even gets you discounted camping at some parks. Our fall trip alone made the pass well worth the $80.
Safe and Happy Travels!