I wanted to follow up with my trip (South Rim). I flew into Vegas and met up with my girl friend (not girlfriend) and started the adventure.
When I got to Vegas, Enterprise didn't have a Grand Cherokee available. I ended up in a 2014 GMC Acadia.
I also made a last minute change in my plans and went to the Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP for the rest of this write-up) for some hiking. We didn't have a strict schedule, so we enjoyed the drive. Stopped at the Hoover Dam and walked around a bit, and we made a couple other stops along the way at those 'scenic overlooks' that most people just drive past. From the Dam, we headed down I-93 to Kingman then East on I-40 towards Flagstaff. It was a nice drive. Got to see a decent amount of wildlife along the way since it was an evening drive, (took about 4:15 driving time from Vegas to GCNP.) Stopped in Williams, AZ to fill up on fuel before heading north on R-64 to the park. We didn't get to the park until after 11pm and there was no one at the gate (still kinda off-season), just a sign that said, "Please Continue Through". It was too late to do anything else, so we went directly to the campground. Again, no one was at the gate, and another sign that said, "Late Night Check in: Please select an available site and stop in tomorrow morning after 8am to register." Well, we crashed in the back of the Acadia (quite roomy actually), but we only slept for a couple hours because we wanted to see the sunrise over the canyon. We were up and at the south rim by 5:45am. The sunrise was amazing... Well worth getting up early.
Anyway, we spent the day hiking around the GCNP trails. We went about a mile and a half down the Bright Angel Trail, but decided to turn back before we were too far down. (We're planning a trip later this year to do a Rim-2-Rim hike, 17+- miles). If you've never been to the GCNP, it's worth the trip. It's a nice setup. They have a free bus line that will take you from overlook to overlook, or you can "hike" between each along the edge of the canyon. Lots of great picture spots.
That evening we went to the furthest east location we could find and watched a beautiful sunset at the canyon. Then we headed back to the campground to try and register and stay again the next night. By the time we got there, they were closed again... So we did the same thing the second night... Again we were up early and gone before they were open. (Thanks GCNP Campground for a place to park 2 nights in a row for free. Greatly appreciated!!
****** HERE'S THE PART YOU SHOULD ALL READ!!! ******
I did a lot of research and checked out a lot of satellite photos to find a way to drive down to the Colorado River. THERE IS A WAY!!!
The second day, we were heading to the trail I found with my research. It's called Diamond Creek Rd... Also known as Indian Rt 6 and it goes north from Peach Spring, AZ into the Grand Canyon. As the name would suggest, it's on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. During my research I called the Reservation Office and asked what, if any, permits I would need to drive on this 'road' to get to the river. The nice lady on the phone said I wouldn't need any permit since I wasn't planning on doing anything other than drive to the water, eat lunch and leave. (No fishing, boating, camping, ect).
So, we got to drive on Historic Route 66 into Peach Spring, then found our way onto Indian Rt-6 (Thanks to the GPS on my Verizon Phone). It was about 7:30am when we left the pavement and started driving the 18 miles on a stone/dirt/rocky road towards the Colorado River. We were less than a mile from the water when we came across a sign that said,
"NO ONE PAST THIS POINT WITHOUT A VALID PERMIT. Up to $500 fine per person for anyone in violation."
I. Was. Pissed. The sign also said that the rangers were on duty from 8am-9pm. I looked at my passenger and said, "We came all this way... What do you want to do?" She said, "I want to see the river. Plus, I believe in your ability to talk your way out of any situation. Lets go for it.". So we did. It was another 5 minutes or so and we were standing in the Colorado River.
We had to drive IN a creek-bed for the last half mile or so, and then came to a parking area with port-a-pots and tables and canopies for shade. There was no one else around, so we thought we were ok... at least for the time being. We didn't stay long because $1000 in potential fines is a lot to think about.
5-10 minutes is all we were willing to risk, and we took off back out of there... Once we were out of the 'restricted area' we took a sigh of relief. Then it wasn't 5 miles and we passed a truck coming our way pulling a trailer full of boats to the water. And less than 2 miles later, we were stopped by an Reservation Ranger.
I talked my way out of it... He tried to sell us the permit ($56 !!!!!??!!!) Told him all I had was credit cards and we were heading to the Reservation Office to buy the permit and return for the day. (We 'changed our minds' once we got back to town.
On the way back out of the Canyon, we came across a couple wild burro's and they were rather friendly. Walked right up to the truck. I wouldn't suggest trying to touch them cuz they WILL bite if they smell food.
We got back on Rt 66 and headed west to Vegas. Spent the next two nights in Sin City with friends that were there to get married.
We both agreed- The best part of the whole trip was the time we spent at the Grand Canyon. Can't wait to go back!!!
By the way: The Acadia I had turned out to be Front Wheel Drive. HAHA. But it served us well. I'm a JEEP fan, and I would have preferred a Grand Cherokee, but it did well. And the 'trail' wasn't a challenge at all. Probably could have made it almost the whole way in a Camaro, to be honest.
We averaged 19.8 mpg for the whole trip.
And on the way back to Vegas, I was 'cruising' around 110 mph, keeping up with a couple mustangs.
I included a couple pics. Enjoy. If anyone wants more details, PM me and I'll respond asap.