Grand Canyon at sunset

Back in June, we found ourselves somewhere neither of us really wanted to be. Las Vegas. So we hired a car and took a mini road trip from Vegas, west to the Grand Canyon.

I had flown into Las Vegas to join Danielle who had already been there for a few days with work. Her team were representing a new hotel/casino, Resorts World, which was opening on the strip. I’ve never had much interest in visiting Vegas, nowhere close to the top of the list of places to visit, but when opportunity strikes…

Somewhere I had always wanted to visit was the Grand Canyon, so became the formulation of our Vegas road trip plan. Forty-five minutes drive from Vegas is the Hoover Dam (something on my bucket list). “Only” four hours from there, is the Grand Canyon, with the old Route 66 part of the route.

The heat in and around Vegas was extraordinary, pushing past 100F/38C commonly. Stepping out at the Hoover Dam it was uncomfortable even in the shade. While the heat may be common in Vegas, it’s been a summer of extreme weather in the US. The sight of the Hoover Dam further illustrated the effect of Climate Change. The water level in the Hoover Dam was at its lowest ever level, only 35% of capacity, somewhat diminishing the visual impact of the dam.

Plugging the next stop of our road trip into the GPS we headed to a Route 66 museum. We’d spotted it on a map before the trip and it was close to our route. The museum turned out to be a gift shop with some old memorabilia – not so exciting. However, the town – Williams, where the ‘museum’ was situated turned out to be an excellent road trip stop. It had the appearance at first look of a town which hadn’t changed in many years, partly a consequence of it being the last town on Route 66 to be bypassed. On one side were old buildings (many turned into Route 66 shops) on the other side a deserved railway station. Apparently, there is a direct link to the Grand Canyon via the station but nothing was running.

While the pit-stops added to the adventure we had to be back in Vegas to drop the car off the next day. In retrospect, it was a long drive for less than a day at the destination, though it was also about the journey. Our aim had been to reach the Grand Canyon and the end of our Vegas road trip for sunset and we did achieve that (if not much more!). Upon arriving at the park, there was a shuttle bus to take visitors to different spots. There was a brief hiccup though, the bus required masks, for once not something we were prepared for!

Vegas and Nevada had already ended their mask mandate and no one was wearing them throughout the strip. We hadn’t visited anywhere else without a mask mandate since pre-pandemic. Initially a very strange feeling, but clearly we had conditioned back to ‘normal’ quickly and forgotten to bring masks. Now in Arizona the rules were more like everywhere else but Vegas. Luckily, the gift shop was open and a couple of Grand Canyon branded bandanas later we were on the shuttle.

Grand Canyon at sunset
Grand Canyon South Rim at sunset

The sunset was great to experience though I wish we had more time to get to see other viewpoints. There is hiking and rafting to do as well although activities for the winter rather than summer given the temperatures. Alongside the impressive views, we also captured sight of several elk while on the shuttle. Leaving the hotel the following morning we saw another elk and then a coyote. Hadn’t made the trip in expectation of wildlife but both were new wildlife for me to spot!

I would return to Vegas, but only for the purposes of redoing and extending this road trip.