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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois • Page 173

Chicago Tribunei
Chicago, Illinois
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Chicago Tribune, Sunday, October 27, 1996 Section 8 11 Travel A guide to Grand Canyon "7 Text and photos by Robert Cross Area of map -c, 'r V.i 'It -LXiNorth Rtm Entrant! lillON NATIONAL PARK i JV- a go '-A lew if iv1 -r a mm i 1 VISITOR CENTER lvPl 'r 6 -nU AtC; wMfUfi park headquarters! il cX Ni 4, SY VL-fi 7 Isouth Entnclf iTusayan Ruins "ranc4 64 nusayan Ruins GETTING THERE Las Vegas and Flagstaff, are the nearest large cities seived by major airlines. From those launching pads, several highways I lead to the heavily traveled south rim. Access to the the north I rim requires a 215-mile drive around the eastern end of the canyon on Arizona Highway 64, northbound U.S. Highway 89 i and westbound U.S. Alternate Highway 89.

Arizona Highway which dips south from AIL U.S. 89 to the north rim, is closed from late October to mid-May. In cities near Grand Canyon, travelers find an abundance of transportation options from car rentals to motorcoach tours to helicopter rides. Grand Canyon Railway offers excursions from Williams, in vintage coaches pulled by antique locomotives. Round-trip adult fares start at $49.50.

The railway also can arrange hotel, meal and canyon-tour packages. Call 800-843-8724 and Museum Campsite Picnic Area Ranger Gas Public Phone Park Entrance GETTING AROUND the typical visitor takes a brief took into the Grand Canyon and departs pumped full of wonder. The typical stay lasts from five to seven hours, according to park surveys, and the average time spent looking at the canyon is 17 minutes. This means most of the travel along the south rim is by motor vehicle. The scenic drive on the portion of the south rim that is felled West Rim Drive covers 8 miles from the main visitor center, finding at Hermits Rest Private vehicles are forbidden on West GRAND CANYON FACTS Established at national park Feb.

26, 1919. Area: 1,218,376 acres (1,904 square miles). Visitor 4,908,073 in 1995. Location: Entirely within northwestern Arizona, 60 miles north of Williams, 80 miles north of Flagstaff. Flora and fauna: 75 species of mammals (including bob Illustrations by Joe LeMonnier 'tnm cinym NATIONAL FAIR Rim Drive from late May through late September.

Instead, a free shuttle bus takes passengers from one scenic point to the next The 25-mile East Rim Drive ends at Desert View, the park's PLACES TO STAY ARIZONA cats, mule deer, bats); 50 species of reptiles and amphib- ians (including unique pink rattlesnake); 25 species of fish (among them, humpback chub); 300 species of birds (including bald eagle, peregrine falcon). Desert plants and streamside vegetation on canyon floor. Pinyon and pon- t. derosa pine and Utah juniper at the rim. (l Entranc hen $10 per private vehicle; $4 for pedestrians or cyclists (good for seven consecutive days).

Annual Grand Canyon Passport is $15. Golden Access Passport for the disabled is free to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Ptioenlx east entrance. Private vehicles are permitted on East Rim Drive all year.

Those well-known mule trips into the canyon require reservations far in advance. Day trips, including lunch, cost $100 per person. Overnight trips with a stay at Phantom Ranch in the canyon start at $25175 per person (including all meals). Call 520- Tucson At the height of the summer season, places to sleep are at a premium and should be reserved early. Campgrounds and trailer sites around the south rim offer only basic facilities.

They cost $12 to $18 a night Reservations are accepted up to five months in advance by DESTINET, 800-365-2267. Permits for camping overnight below the rim are free of charge but severely limited. Requests may be made up to four months in advance by writing Backcountry Office, RO. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Ariz. 86023.

Rates for accommodations at El Tovar Hotel and five lodges in the Grand Canyon Village area range from $53 a room to $271 for an Tovar suite. The 1,132 Grand Canyon lodging units (counting 201 on the north rim and 15 at Phantom Ranch, on the canyon floor) generally range in style from cabins to motel-hotel rooms. Phantom Ranch is a refuge for rafters, hikers and mule riders, providing the weary with dormitory bunks, cabins and meals (at extra cost). Write Grand Canyon National Park Lodges at RO. Box 699, Grand Canyon, Ariz.

86023. For same-day reservations, call 520-638-2631. In advance (the earlier the better), call 303-297-2757, or write Amfac Parks Resorts, 14001 East lliff, Suite 600, Aurora, Colo. 80014. 638-2401 or fax 520-638-9247 for more details or reservations.

Colorado River raft and boat trips, which vary in length and difficulty, are offered by more than a dozen companies. The voyages begin at Lees Ferry, at the northeast extremity of the park-nearly a 50-mile drive from the main south rim visitor center. Again, summertime reservations are a must These are best booked through a knowledgeable travel agent Hikers will find some undemanding trails along the rim, but even short hikes into the canyon call for stamina and plenty of food and water. Free rjacfccountry permits are required for overnight treks. The visitor centers can provide detailed information on the intricate Grand Canyon hiking situation.

Bicyclists must stay off the hiking trails and stick to the roads. Tovar Hotel with its chalet-style architecture. In Tusayan, 4 miles south of the south entrance on Ariz. 64, motels, restaurants and other tourist facilities are sprouting like chickweed. Most of the familiar names in chain hostelry are represented or soon will be.

WHEN TO GO Summerdraws crowds, so everylfiing tr can te reserved such as bDountty camping permits, lodgng arxl excursions houkJ be booked well in advance. On the south rim, where the average- -elevation is 7,000 feet, summer temperatures range from the 50s to the 80s. But down at river level, 5,000 feet below thertm, expect sizzling days topping 100 degrees. The north rim, 1,000 feet higher thanthe south, is slightjy cooler. Springand fall can be the rrKpteasartseasars, although weather conditions may change suddenly.

Winter, of course, brings snow and ice, slippery roads and ous hiking Facilities in and roads to the north rim are closed in winter. ACCESSIBILITY Not all facilities are accessible, and some historic buildings make wheelchair access difficult But many sites and overlooks maybe visited with assistance and several are wholly accessible. An accessibility guide is available at the main visitor center or by writ-" ing RO. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Ariz. 86023.

TDD calls: 520- 638-7804. I CANYON DINING herb marinades, tarragon butter, fennel and sun-dried tomatoes belly up to the linen tabteclotns at Tovar. Dinner reservations (usually a good idea) are accepted at 520-638-263L At the nearby Arizona Steakhouse, its first-come, first-served and dinner only. Crowds build up outside the door, where, while wafting, they are forced to watch descending sunbeams illuminate the carryonrocK formations. It could be worse.

Other cafeterias and restaurants are sprinkled about Grand Canyon Village, including Babbitts General Store and Delicatessen, where backpackers can fuel up for the trails ahead. Down the road, restaurants in Tusayan (including a buckaroo-themed steak-house) aim to satisfy the hungry not the picky. Generally speaking, they Its autumn now, so the hostess may be seating you before your hiking boots go out of style. In the peak months, however, expect to wait up to a couple of hours for tables at the fancier places around the rim. Tovar Hotel dining room, overlooking the canyon and named for an early European visitor, Pedro Tovar (circa.

1540), is the only establtshment flaunting haute ambitions. Cowpokes with a taste for 7 INFORMATION Write: Superintendent Grand Canyon National Park, RO. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Ariz 86023. Or call 520-638-7888. The Colorado Rrver from 5,000 feet above.

GRAND CANYON MAIN SIGHTS ny where along the south rim, any time of day, the viewpoints induce a delicious tingle up the spine and knee-weakening awe. ble canyon views are equally stunning. The following highlights, all J. on the south rim, provide a sample of Grand Canyon's beauty and his-t tory. Hermits Rest At the end of the 8-mile West Rim Drive, motorists and hikers can marvel at the scenery from a small cafe and gift shop.

Yakl Point Below this portion of the East Rim Drive, dawn and dusk put on fantastic shows. The Colorado River is clearly visible a mile beneath the rim. Tusayan Ruins and Museum In the late 12th Century, about 30 Anasazl lived in a tiny village near what is now the East Rim Drive. The ruins of their dwellings and the field where they farmed constitute the most heavily visited archeoiogical site in the national park system. Desert View Near the park's eastern entrance, a Hopi-style watch-tower (admission 25 cents) looks out upon an expanse of canyon, the river below and the Painted Desert beyond.

Another big winner at dawn and 4 'atner Pmt Named for Stephen Tyng Mather, first director of the National Park Service, this shelf is easily reached because of its proximity to the south entrance and Grand Canyon Village. At Mather, many get their first peek at the mighty gorge, and it's a favorite spot at dawn and sunset Yavapai Point and Observation Station Large windows frame a panoramic view of the canyon. Fossil and rock exhibits, a book shop and ranger talks offer insights into what happened here over the millennia. Grand Canyon Village The rustic setting evokes turrH)f-the-centxiry canyon worship: the venerable FJ Tovar Hotel, the railroad depot, the vintage KcJb photo studio, the Hopi Gift Shop (faithfully replicating a Hopi residence), assorted restaurants, shops and lodging facilities. And just beyond the lawns and flower beds, triere'sttiatastouWig hole in the ground.

Visitors await the dawn at Mather Point Hopi Point A popular gathering place at dusk, the overlook gives visitors a striking view of canyon walls turning orange and purple as they reflect the setting sun. The view from Yaki Point reveals dramatic formations from the Tonto Platform..

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