RoadTrip America

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Grand Canyon, The Complete Guide: Grand Canyon National Park, by James Kaiser

Clearing Storm
James Kaiser
A storm clears over the Grand Canyon

Havasu Falls
James Kaiser
Havsu Falls

Nankoweap Rafts on the Colorado
James Kaiser
Nankoweap Rafts on the Colorado River

North Kaibab Trail
James Kaiser
North Kaibab Trail

In 1980, I had the marvelous opportunity to spend 32 days inside the Grand Canyon, and as a result, I have since fancied myself to be a knowledgeable visitor to this amazing national park. But a brand new 3rd edition to a popular guidebook by James Kaiser has opened my eyes to parts of the canyon that I was unaware of. Kaiser's stunning photography can be found on nearly every page, and even if you never read a single word of text, just viewing this book is mind-blowing. He has captured the essence of this place through the lens of his cameras in remarkable fashion. The quality of the light in the inner canyon has always fascinated me, and Kaiser's photos have managed to capture some of ethos of the place.

In addition to enjoying the visual feast, I found Kaiser's simple prose arresting and informative. In particular, I liked his section on history and the varied characters who have lived and worked in the Grand Canyon. Just one of the things I learned from this book was the existence of the small Hopi village of Oraibi. Located about eighty miles east of the Grand, it is the oldest continuously occupied town in the Unites States. Oraibi has been "in business" for over 800 years.

But the true value of the various guide books that this author has written lies in the mapping and trail descriptions of the various sections of the park. In the first book of this series that I reviewed, Acadia: The Complete Guide, I commented about the author's choice not to include lodging details. There is no such omission in this book on the Grand Canyon. The author provides sufficient details about all forms of camping and motel lodging to enable visitors to make their best choice. Kaiser also provides solid and useful information about the geology and ecology of this stunningly beautiful and complex place.

The book provides in-depth information for visitors wishing to explore both the south and north rims, the Colorado River and Havasu Falls. After reading this book, I long for the day when I can return to the Grand Canyon and go wandering for a couple of weeks. I have never taken the Cape Final Trail on the north rim, or climbed down the slippery ladders to Mooney Falls in Havasu Canyon, but after reading this book those places are on my must-see list.

Teddy Roosevelt once called the Grand Canyon "the one great sight that every American should see," and this award-winning guide book is the one you ought to have with you when you plan your own "Grand experience."


Mark Sedenquist

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