Day 7: Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas
The seventh day of our trip was action packed and long. We planned to make quick stops at both the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam en route to Las Vegas. We started the day by making the short 10 mile drive to the Grand Canyon Village which is located along the south rim. We all agreed that we just wanted to have a quick look and move on. We parked the van and hiked from the Visitor’s Center to Mather Point. Although we had to pay the park entry fee the night before ($30 per vehicle), you do not have to pay to do the self-guided tour of the rim. There is a walk way around the rim and the 30 minutes we spent on the short hike was more than enough considering the temperatures were over 42 degrees (108). The view was incredible and the size of the canyon literally too big to comprehend.
Hoover Dam is located just outside of Vegas (45 minutes from Planet Hollywood where we were staying.) Again, we had no desire to do the full tour of the dam, but did want to stop and show it to the kids. Tim and I had visited the dam years ago and it really is something to see. This attraction costs nothing if you avoid the paid parking lots and skip the tours. We first entered from the Nevada side and stopped in a free parking lot off to the right just after the check stop. You can then climb the stairs (or ramp) up to the bypass bridge. The bridge has a walkway and offers a perfect vantage point to view the dam. We then got back in our van and drove over the dam. It’s pretty hard to see from a vehicle, so we parked and walked back to get a view looking down from the dam itself. Again, the size is quite incredible. There is paid parking right after you cross the dam, but just beyond are several free lots. The walk from the parking lots wasn’t that far (about 5 minutes) and was down hill/stairs, but in the heat it really seemed like the walk that would never end. By the time we reached the dam, the kids and I were completely done. The heat was unbelievable. Tim overheard someone say the temperature was 118 degrees (48 celsius) on the dam. Tim does much better in that kind of heat and seemed relatively unbothered. He kindly offered to make the hike back up to the van and then drive back down and pick us up from the dam.
By the time we reached our hotel in Vegas, we were all ready for a dip in the pool. The kids were blown away by Vegas, and Tim and I were both amazed by how much it had changed since we were there several years ago. It is like sensory overload. After a swim, we had a much welcomed shower and headed out for dinner. It was Tim’s birthday, so we splurged on a nice dinner even though we were travelling on a limited budget. After a lovely dinner, we walked the strip for a couple of hours and turned in around 11. I was down for the count before my head even hit the pillow. Tim tried his luck at the casino, but failed in his quest to hit the big one on his birthday. After a good nights rest, we all woke up feeling very appreciative of common amenities like beds and water, after spending a week tenting.