My Dad, Uncle, Aunt, and I were able to take a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
When my Dad posed this trip to me for the first time I was nervous. I had never been white water rafting before and had no idea how scary that element of the trip would be. Eventually, after enough convincing, I was very excited to go, despite still being nervous.
Getting ready for the trip was a task in itself. This trip took place in Arizona in the summertime, so we knew it was going to be really hot outside. We went to Cabela’s to get quick-dry clothes that would protect us from being sun burnt due to being outside 24/7 but would still keep us cool.
We flew to Las Vegas a day and a half in advance so we didn’t need to worry at all about getting there on time. Once we arrived, My Dad and I wanted to keep busy, and there’s a surprising amount to do for someone who can’t go to casinos or drink alcohol in Vegas. We stayed at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, which I highly recommend. The whole hotel has a medieval theme that is most noticeably present from the outside, where the whole place looks like a castle. After exploring the hotel and getting a bite to eat in their food court we walked to the strip where we did a number of activities. I recommend stopping in M&M world, Hershey’s Chocolate World, and the Coke store.
Over the day and a half my Dad and I did a lot of activities, we partook in CSI: The Experience, which we really enjoyed but has unfortunately closed since we went, as well as Shark Reef Aquarium in Mandalay Bay, and the Stratosphere (STRAT) Tower. The Stratosphere is really high up, so it’s not for anyone who’s scared of heights, but perfect for a thrill seeker. When you’re up there, you also have the option to go on any number of amusement park rides high in the sky. When I went a while back, I was too chicken for most of them so I opted-out, but for anyone braver than me I’m sure it would be a blast.
We stopped at the ticket booth for the Tournament of Kings dinner theater at our hotel and got tickets for our first night in Vegas. We sat in stadium seats where we were presented with a whole chicken for dinner, naturally, without silverware – this is medieval times after all. The show was amazing, it had jousting, amazing effects, and a interesting story. From what I remember of it, I would 100% go back even at 20 years old.
Out of all the dinner places in Vegas, the choice for dinner #2 after my Aunt and Uncle joined us was Dick’s Last Resort. Dick’s Last Resort is a casual restaurant franchise where they are purposely sassy and borderline mean to their guests (each member of the waitstaff is a different level of sass) but that’s all part of the shtick and the main reason why many people go there. Now, I would have so many places I’d go for dinner before Dick’s, but it was in our hotel and younger Katie thought it was hilarious, and I still do, I would just look much more into the must-eats of Vegas than I did a while ago.
At night, we went to the observation wheel High Roller and watched the Fountains of Bellaigo water show. Both of these things were favorites of mine and it’s a great way to get the Vegas feel without needing to gamble or drink.
After our time in Las Vegas, it was finally time to head to the Grand Canyon. We took this trip with Western River Expeditions. The morning of our departure we headed to the Desert Rose Hotel and was picked up via shuttle to get on a 20 person plane at the airport and headed to the bar ten ranch. From the ranch we were taken group-by-group via helicopter to the bottom of the Canyon.
Once your entire group is at the bottom, you’re suited up with life vests and sent off on the Colorado River. Your guide will give you an introduction and welcome to your once in a lifetime trip. Your days are filled with a (mostly) soothing ride down the river surrounded by the gorgeous red rock of the canyon. As we went farther down the river I became more and more comfortable with the rapids. I can’t speak for the longer trips but the three day trip we went on did not have intimidating rapids and I ended up choosing to sit in the front of the raft (where they tell you it is the bumpiest). There was one time we went through rapids where my Uncle ended up bumping into me, but that’s because he made the decision to not hang on – FYI, don’t do that.
We took pit stops every few hours on a beach for food and bathroom breaks. In the evening everyone would set up camp for the night. The dinners they served were always amazing, if you go hungry on this trip it’s your own fault. The last night our servers dressed up and the meal was extra special. At night, you get the chance to choose between pitching a tent or sleeping on a cot in the open, my Dad and I decided on cots so we could see the stars.
The highlight of the entire trip was getting to stop and see waterfalls, swim, and explore. The areas the guide takes you to see are sunning, if they give you the option to go or see anything off he beaten path, got for it, you won’t regret it.
White water rafting in The Grand Canyon is really an experience I’ll never forget and something I’m grateful I was able to do.