Grand Canyon West, in all its glory
When it comes to traveling the cities, states, and countries on our vast planet, many do so for a multitude of reasons. You may travel to escape your reality at home. To become inspired. To learn something new. Or simply, to just see how a different community lives. I travel for all of these reasons, and often times find myself in the most fulfilling experiences abroad when they are not planned. This happened to me just recently when I visited Las Vegas.
Joshua Trees along the road
A group of ten family members, from both my generation and my parents’ generation, hopped on a plane to Sin City to celebrate a milestone birthday of one of our cousins. Plans were not solid in regards to what activities we would partake in whilst there, and for those that know me, no plans or general ideas of plans can give me a bit anxiety. I am all about maximizing my time when I visit different places.
A view from the tour bus
So we do the Vegas thing, right? Walk the strip, eat LOTS of food (that at points did not agree with our stomachs), find the best deals on those ridiculous giant frozen alcoholic cocktails you can drink in the street and consume them, catch a live show, breeze through the casinos, and get a little shopping in. We skipped the nightlife bit as my cousins Lauren, Ashley, and I were a bit jetlagged from the three-hour time difference, but we were able to hop on the High Roller, the worlds tallest observation wheel which soars 550 ft above the City of Las Vegas.
Obligatory “Brooklyn we OUTCHEA” pose
On our last full day in Vegas, we took a little road trip to the Grand Canyon West. I had never been, and was super-excited to hit the road and get into nature. I love the topography of the desert as much as I love tropical zones, so viewing tons of mountains and Joshua Trees along the way was great for me. The total drive was just about two hours to the site, which is in Peach Springs, Arizona, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Grand Canyon West is not located in the Grand Canyon National Park. The native Hualapai people run and manage all tours and vending on site, which was very important to me.
These sandals were made for climbing
Once we arrived on the grounds, we noticed a chill in the air, despite the weather reading over 80 degrees. We parked the car and took a little walk to the Visitor’s Center. Lauren and I were unprepared for the chillier weather (Ashley’s a thug and was fine in her tank top), so our first stop once inside was to purchase sweatshirts to wear during our little excursion. I found this cool Grand Canyon West, Joshua Tree sweatshirt (seen below), and of course Lauren copied me, because that’s what cousins do, right?
Our first stop was Hualapai Ranch, which was set up kind of like a ranch in an old Western film. There was a general store, magic shop, and horse rides. I took my obligatory Brooklyn photo (above) there, and we tested a few Boomerangs out, for the culture.
Your favorite cousins. Lauren & I up top, and Ashley squatting
Following our sweatshirt purchase, we purchased tickets for the Grand Canyon West/Skywalk tour, which included a bus shuttle service to Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point, and Guano Point. Skywalk at Eagle Point is one of the most popular attractions; a glass horseshoe-shaped observation bridge 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon. It was my idea to go, and I quickly regretted it as I was unaware that not only are the sides of the deck glass, but the floor is as well. Perhaps I had slight vertigo and intense anxiety, but no photos were taken as we did not have that package. Despite being a bit frightened and walking very slowly around the deck, I made it through, experiencing the most beautiful, unique view you could imagine.
Our last stop on the shuttle bus was Guano Point, one of the highest points on the grounds. I was particularly excited for this stop as our info guide mentioned that this is where we would be able to purchase local Native American handicrafts. My most FAVORITE thing to do while traveling is to purchase local handmade goods, mainly jewelry, so I was pumped.
Handmade crystal jewelry from local vendors
Once off the bus, I wandered directly to a tent with vendor tables showcasing beautiful jewelry. I scanned through a good amount of pieces, and was just so happy to be there as the sunlight shone perfectly across all the vendor tables. I purchased an opalite point and bracelet for myself, and a malachite bracelet for my mother. There was also a Native American gift shop where I purchased a book on healing herbs, and a few Medicine of The People healing balms. I stayed away from gift items that were made abroad as I knew my purchases went right back to the people that made them.
After my little bit of shopping, I walked over to the other side of Guano Point to find my cousins. I knew they had climbed some higher rocks, and since I was wearing sandals and not hiking sneakers/boots, I did not want to chance it. I found this bit of red rocks (above) and just sat there; inhaling the fresh air and viewing nature’s bountiful beauty. I recall saying to myself in my head numerous times, “this is so BEAUTIFUL!”
Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
Although a quick trip, this one moment made me feel so at peace. To be surrounded by gorgeous, sacred land, and our indigenous brothers and sisters, I felt at home. Photos and words cannot truly capture what a gorgeous place Grand Canyon West is. Many say it is a spiritual experience, and I would definitely agree with that. It is a treat, and I hope to visit again very soon, for more than a few hours.
If you are looking to plan a trip to, or visit Grand Canyon West sometime soon, check out their website for all info, accommodations, and excursions.
*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo