Young Couple: 8 day road trip from Memphis
My girlfriend and I are are both 21 and would like to take a road trip from Memphis, TN. We want to hike, camp, and see as much scenic nature as we can. We would like to go in March and be gone for 8 days. Any advice on great road trips would be appreciated.
Wesley, you can't go wrong with the Grand Canyon. I live out west (California native but live in Las Vegas now) and hadn't been to the Grand Canyon till about 6 months ago, it's awesome. Yosemite is incredible and all along the northern west coast starting at Santa Barbara California and just about everywhere north of that up to Canada. Lots of places to hike and incredible beauty.
Thats what I was thinking... any route ideas on how to get there. Also, what to do once we get to the G.C. We would love to camp outside in the Grand Canyon, but haven't heard any personal stories of doing that. Any advice?
Route and Camping
Normally, I recommend Ten-X campground (a US forest service camp) outside the Park, but it is closed until April, usually. This leaves you with Mather Campground, inside the Park at the South Rim Village. It's a good base for exploring the area -- you can catch a shuttle to the different trails for hiking, and the lodges, stores, restaurants and visitor's centers. There are showers -- always a plus. The campground is a beehive of activity, and it is not in a forest setting (no trees, just scrubby bushes!) -- but it IS at the Grand Canyon, and that is its own reward! It fills quite frequently, so I recommend advance reservations. March is still going to be cold there at night, so be prepared for that -- it can easily be in the low 20s at night. Day temps are warmer -- usually 60s and 70s that time of year -- near perfect.
With 8 days, you're going to use a MINIMUM of 4 for driving -- it is over 1400 miles direct from Memphis on I-40. That leaves you 4 days or less for exploring the GC and the surrounding area. You could spend all 4 easily at the GC.
I recommend (for hiking) sections of the Rim Trail, and if you are in great shape, perhaps a day hike down Bright Angel Trail to Plateau Point and back. If you are an IRON man (and she's tough too), you might try hiking down South Kaibab Trail to Tonto Trail, take that to Indian Gardens, and back to the Rim from there on Bright Angel. That would be a brutally long day, with the toughest part at the end when you are tired, but very worth it if you're up to it. Don't even think about it unless you are both conditioned extremely well. March would be a great time of year for it though (cooler). You might even be able to get a campsite at Indian Gardens if you call for reservations quickly (maybe). You didn't say if you were a backpacker... If you want to try backcountry hiking at the GC, I recommend you check out <a href="http://www.hitthetrail.com/"> www.hitthetrail.com<a/> -- it is a great site to learn about the rigorous and special nature of hiking at Grand Canyon National Park, written by a former Ranger there and many of her professional and personal peers.
What equipment, etc. would I need to take along for the trip. We have the basic camping equipment. We are new to this, so we wanted to take a trip that could introduce us to hiking, backpacking, etc. Thanks for the advice.
For day hikes
Not much. For a day hike, I carry very little. (An overnight is a different matter -- but I would NOT recommend GC for a first backpack experience unless it is with an experienced hiker who can guide you.
For a day hike, take high energy food, good boots and a change of socks, + poly "liner" socks to help prevent blisters, plenty of water, and enough flexibility in clothing that you can stay warm and dry if the weather goes south (layer your clothing, and make sure it is "breathable"). An outdoor shop can give you great advice on this, but don't buy everything in sight -- remember, many of them are simply trying to SELL you something! I take insulated undergarments, shorts, sweats, a light waterproof jacket, and little else. Make sure you buy GOOD quality lightweight hiking boots and wear them at least a few times to make sure they fit correctly and are comfortable. As the temperature starts to warm up, the clothes come off, layer by layer. I end up with just shorts, tshirt (long-sleeved, if possible) and a hat, if I am a lucky sunny boy that day.
I ALWAYS take foot first aid -- a package of moleskin and some way to cut it, at minimum. Getting a blister is murder. Best advice, USE the moleskin to cover any hot spot you feel on your foot -- when you FIRST feel it. You can prevent major blister problems if you're religious about that.
In all of this, plan your pack in view of the time you'll be out there. If you're going to hike for only a couple of hours, you don't need a fraction of what I listed above -- a few snacks and water, a camera. All day, then you need to plan for weather changes, and more then enough food and water, etc. Oh, and don't forget to DRINK the water as you hike -- many people end up in trouble because they forget to do that -- or because they do not FEEL thirsty. Big mistake. Sip the water all the time, just not too much at once. Desert hiking is hard on your body!
Check out the link to hitthetrail.com in my last post -- they have way more expert advice than I could ever give you! Bob
Very good advice from Bob. Pay special attention to the water. Bring more than you think you'll need and don't be afraid to drink it. The Bright Angel Trail to the Plateau is a great hike (it goes about halfway down the canyon on a very scenic route), well marked all the way with a couple water stations to refill your bottles or canteens and can be done in a day. On the way down you'll think it's a piece of cake but just wait till you make the hike back up, it'll get to ya fast. My girlfriend and I went all the way to the bottom of the canyon and back in a day which is not recommended, it's brutal and stops being fun about halfway back up because you're so tired. Another great hike, more of a walk actually is the Rim Trail which as you probably have deduced takes you along the south rim and can be done in a few hours or if you get tired they have trams you can catch at certain points along the way. Whatever you do, just take time to soak it all in and enjoy, it's an incredible place.
I think we have decided that we would rather stay in a lodge, rather than camping in 20 degree weather. Do you guys have any reccomendations for places to stay on the South Rim? Also, if you could give me some ideas on thing to do on the way there, i.e. places to stay, see, etc. We may extend the trip to 10 days.
We are also planning on doing some days hikes at the GC. If any of you have some ideas of good day hikes to take, feel free to offer some advice. We have done our research and we are nailing down our plans.
Of the Grand Canyon Lodges (find them by searching on the web for Xanterra) Maswik is usually the cheapest -- this time of year it is less than $70, I think. A cheaper alternative, if you like, is Flagstaff which is 75 miles away (roughly) -- you can easily find decent rooms there for $30 or less, and restaurants are also less expensive.
For day hikes, see my post above -- I've already given you what I think are the best ones. You could also hike down South Kaibab Trail for a short distance, and then back out. S.K. follows ridgelines, so is spectacular, but is also very steep. Bright Angel Trail follows drainages so the views aren't quite as expansive, but beautiful just the same. Bob
We would like to see as much as we can on the way to the Grand Canyon. If we take I-40, what are some suggested places to stop, stay, etc.