While the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is what is identified with the Grand Canyon, the other rim – that on the north side – has much to be desired: fewer tourists, an elevation higher by 1,300 feet and an abundance of wildlife. Amazingly, it is only 10 or so miles across the canyon, yet to drive between each rim requires more than 200 miles. The names of the viewpoints speak to the great beauty of the place: Point Sublime, Cape Royal, Angels Window and even Bright Angel. This is the low-key Grand Canyon and lends itself to quiet contemplation as well as vigorous hikes. The Colorado River continues to do its magic – patiently digging the canyon deeper, one foot per thousand years. While only “discovered” in 1540, the Grand Canyon becomes more inspiring the deeper one travels. “The one great sight that every American should see,” as Theodore Roosevelt so aptly put it.
While the Grand Canyon is perhaps Arizona’s most famous canyon, it is surrounded by many smaller, yet equally impressive, canyons such as Antelope Canyon. This deep, narrow canyon, known as a “slot canyon,” was gently carved from the Navajo sandstone over the course of countless millenniums.
Walk along the sandy floor of either the Upper or Lower Antefope canyons as you gaze up into the dream-like landscape of constantly changing colors and moving shafts of sunlight. Some of the canyon slots are so narrow in places you can stretch your arms out and touch the cool walls from side to side. It is a photographer’s wonderland, so don’t forget your camera.
Note: You must have an authorized guide to hike the upper and lower areas of Antelope Canyon.
HOW TO GET THERE
Antelope Canyon is located near Page on Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, just outside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. For a scenic drive, begin your journey a few miles northeast of Cow Spring on U.S. Route 160 and end 66 miles later in Page at U.S. Route 89.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Transcend time and discover respite from your hectic life One of the world’s vast and powerfully inspiring wonders, the Grand Canyon is,a must-see when visiting Arizona, whether it’s your first or fifteenth visit. Descending more than a mile to the canyon floor and spanning 277 miles from end to end, the canyon offers a playground where you can backpack, bird watch, river raft, and stargaze. You have several options to reach the bottom, including the 9.3-mile Bright Angel Trail or the 7.3-mile South Kaibab Trail.
Start your morning as the sun slowly peeks up above the canyon walls and the sweet earthy smell of the desert lingers in the air. As you.pick your way slowly down one of the trails’ countless switchbacks, soak in nonstop views of multicolored rock formations in astounding shapes: Along the north and south rims, there are trails for all levels of hikers, which offer dazzling views, opportunities to photograph amazing wildlife, and explore seldom-seen wonders at every step. At the bottom, take in the vivid Colorado River as it gushes past, with an invigorating energy that might inspire a rafting trip. Several river-rafting tours offer chances to explore this majestic river with trips that range from a few hours to a few weeks.
SUN AND SEA
Those seeking fun in the sun will find plenty of variety in Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula’s Caribbean shoreline features hotspot Cancun, the laid back islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the lovely beach resorts of Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Xpu-Ha. On the Pacific coast, Acapulco beckons with its sublime bay, outstanding hotels, and round-the-clock energy while further north, you’ll find the charming beach village of Zihuatanejo and exceptional lodgings in neighboring Ixtapa.
Numerous archaeological treasures left by centuries of pre-Hispanic civilizations attest to Mexico’s glorious past. Teotihuacan, near Mexico City, is famous for the pyramid-lined Avenue of the Dead featuring the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Monte Alban is a significant Zapotec ceremonial center on a mountaintop overlooking the valley of Oaxaca. The Mayan ruins at Palenque in the state of Chiapas are dramatically positioned atop a tall ridge at the base of forested mountains. And Uxmal, Chichen Itza, and Ek Balam are important Mayan sites on the Yucatan Peninsula.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS Mexico is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty and wildlife, Head to the Baja California Peninsula (from January through March) to witness the majesty of the gray whale. An estimated 10,000 of these graceful creatures travel from the frigid Bering Sea to mate and give birth to their calves in the warm Pacific waters. While there are many great viewing locations, the protected waters of El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve provide ideal conditions for both the whales and whale watchers.
Inland, magnificent Copper Canyon is a 6,487-square-mile network of canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua. The Chihuahua to Pacific Railway leaves from Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortes and travels inland to Copper Canyon. The railway, an engineering feat with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels, traverses the canyon offering incredible vistas of pine forests, jagged peaks, and valleys before descending into the city of Chihuahua. You can stay overnight at stops along the way to explore the dramatic terrain while hiking, horseback riding, and camping.