Tusayan is only a stone’s throw away (two miles) from the official entrance to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s also known as home to the world’s most expensive McDonald’s for you trivia folks. For me, it was time to find a paved biking trail and attempt to pedal my way to the Grand Canyon.
The start of the long 4th of July holiday weekend starts with me checking my tire pressure and water levels of my camelback one last time in the parking lot just north of “downtown” Tusayan. Many think that the Arizona desert valley summer temperatures are the most dangerous for outdoor enthusiasts, but high country temps can be equally deadly if one is not properly prepared. It’s eight a.m. and in the mid eighties when I start my ride, and I’m feeling the heat.
Cruising along the paved trail as I slowly climb in elevation, whisking past the Ponderosa Pines of Coconino County. Others are out here as well on their rented electric bikes. I prefer the challenge of an all natural, pedal powered journey. I soon arrive to the South Rim, and am surprised that this trail lets you enter the National Park without having to pay any kind of entrance fee. I suppose it is one’s reward for not driving a vehicle. I rest and rehydrate for a few minutes, trying to decide which route to go on next….
I decide to ride West past the hotels, villages and cabins along the South Rim, heading towards the road that can take one to Hermit’s Head. To my delight I find that the road is closed to vehicular traffic, so bikes have free reign.
The sun is really beating down now, but I am determined to try and make it the 13 miles to the end of the road. The views of the Grand Canyon never disappoint, but seeing them from a bike is a wholly new experience.
Eventually I make it to the end of the road and the start of the hiking trail called Hermit’s Head. One day I may take the hike down into the canyon itself, but not today. My water is getting dangerously low. I refuel with some snacks I have, take some photo’s to try and show the scale of this place from a new perspective, then slowly start on the long journey back.
To try and keep cool, I think about the last time I was out here, the winter of 2018. I mistakenly called this place Hermit’s Head, and my focus back then was on not being trampled by elk or slipping over the edge of the canyon from the ice and snow.
I see few elk this time around, as they are resting in any shade they can find to survive the heat. I suck dry the last few remaining drops of water in my camelback, and will my body to continue on. I have ten plus miles to go….
Sweat starts to crystalize on my forehead, around my eyes, etc….
It’s a sure sign of dehydration. Luckily I reach the paved trail that will descend quickly back to Tusayan. The wind from my speed cools me down, and I arrive back to the parking lot hours later feeling spent but rejuvenated.
Somewhere around 30 miles total, no matter if you hike, take an electric bike, or pedal the old fashioned way, this is an awesome way to see one of the seven greatest natural wonders of our world.