Driving the American West: Mojave Desert to the Grand Canyon

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon


Continued from
Go West, I Said

The first two days of my road trip around the American West were just spectacular:

There were tumbleweeds, Joshua trees and enormous crows beneath a metal-bright blue sky.

I raced mile-long technicolor trains and waved to other drivers, grinning like a fool.

I stayed the night in a former brothel along Route 66, where I had a damn fine cappuccino.

And then I walked along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, eyes agog.

It’s really good out here.

In the middle of the Mojave Desert, I hopped off the freeway to follow Historic Route 66 for a bit -- and was captivated by this abandoned trading post

The closer I got to Arizona, the sandy Mojave soil became darker and the clouds stretched long across the sky

After six hours of driving, I pulled into Williams, Arizona along the old Route 66

Williams calls itself "Gateway to the Grand Canyon," and is the starting point for the Grand Canyon Railway

View from the Grand Canyon Railway depot in Williams, Arizona at 5pm in late winter

Across the street from the train depot, my home for the night: The Red Garter Bed and Bakery, a former 1897 saloon and brothel

Yes, the mannequin in the window of the Red Garter IS a hooker

Room No. 2 at the Red Garter, with a cozy bed and free wi-fi

Red Raven Restaurant, which was recommended to me for dinner by Deb at the Red Garter

At the cozy Red Raven, I had a delicious dinner of salmon with pesto, asparagus and mashed potatoes, and a fine Pinot Noir

A wander around Williams takes about 45 minutes, and you'll see lots of Hopi images

And what would a Wild West town be without a wooden Indian, I ask you? (*sigh*)

After the 30-mile drive up from Williams, this was my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon in 22 years!

The walking paths around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon were, in early March, cleared only slightly of ice and snow

The snow and ice on the Canyon itself? Much easier to manage -- and gorgeous

Yes, the Canyon is incredible, but the gnarled trees -- and sheer number of languages you'll hear spoken -- are also impressive

Stumbled across the mule corral near the South Rim, and fell in love with these woolly cuties and their trippy tails

I took a park shuttle driver's advice and saw the 2o-minute movie at the Grand Canyon's South Rim/ Mather Point Visitor's Center (narrated, of course, by Peter Coyote), and learned a lot about this natural wonder -- definitely check it out if you find yourself up this way



The town of Williams, Arizona
Red Garter Bed and Bakery
Red Raven Restaurant
Grand Canyon Railway
National Park Service’s Grand Canyon website
Info on the film, Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder


Continued in

Driving the American West: Monument Valley to Canyonlands


  1. Suzan Wynne says:

    Great shots of interesting adventures. Stay safe!

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