01 May 2006 Monday

We stopped at the information office outside Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument  to ask about hikes and attractions.  Grand Staircase if not as developed a park as Zion, Bryce or Grand Canyon.  It sounds like there are some great hikes, rock formations and slot canyons, but many are down dirt or gravels roads.  We don’t have time to explore this park now, but we will keep this information and return another time.  

Another stop is Page, Arizona to check out Antelope Canyon.  Antelope Canyon is a fabulous slot canyon that we’ve seen incredible photos of.  We found out that Antelope Canyon is on land owned by the Navajo Nation and visitation is closely monitored.  You can only get there on a tour or by shuttle bus.  There is an upper and lower Antelope Canyon.  There is a fee to enter the area ($6.00) and a fee for both shuttles to the upper and lower canyons ($12.00 for one, $16.00 for the other).  A guided tour is $29.00.  We don’t have time to make a worthwhile trip and $60.00+ is a bit outside our budget right now, so we make our notes to include this when we come back to explore Grand Staircase.  

We’ve got to hurry now to see if we can get a backpacking permit to go into the Grand Canyon overnight.  I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon National Park and it’s been on my list for a long time.  So when we got there, Andrew wanted to rush to the backcountry permit office and I wanted to SEE THE GRAND CANYON!!!  I annoyed the heck out of him with too many photos from the Desert View of the South Rim.  

We got to the backcountry permit office about 30 minutes before it closed.  While we were waiting, we overhead an older gent in front of us talking to a ranger about his rim to rim hike today.  We’ve heard of the rim to rim to rim challenge… it involves starting at one rim, hiking down to the river and up to the next rim, turning around and hiking back down to the river and back up again.  OUCH!  That’s 46 miles of hiking and 20,000 feet of differential elevation!  In one day!  We’re not doing that on this trip.  In the conversation we were eavesdropping on, this guy was going to do a rim to rim, but he wasn’t feeling well, so he just hiked to the river and back.  Still a pretty significant hike.

It was our turn and we asked about camping availability at the river campsites and nothing was available.  There is a campground at a mid-point down the canyon, Indian Gardens, and it has an opening for 2 nights.  Our plan is to hike 4.5 miles down to our campground, stay overnight, do a day hike down to the river and back, then hike out the last day. 

We also got info on dispersed camping just outside the park and headed there for a site for the night.  The first site we found had a sign reading “Hunters- Watch for people in this area” and at the bottom “CDC- Hantavirus“.  We decided to find another site.

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