Photography, Travel, USA

Grand Canyon + Bearizona

June 4, 2012

While we were in Vegas last month, we took a day trip to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon.  I looked into a bunch of tours and ultimately decided to do it on our own because that way we can do what we want when we want, we don’t have to be part of a large group (ugh!) and it’s WAY cheaper.  Decision made!  We decided to go to the south rim.

We rented the car direct from the Avis office at our hotel, the Aria, which made it really easy.  Used google maps on our phone and off we went.  First stop — the Las Vegas sign.  We took the opportunity to do this once we got the car since it was a little far to walk for us.

We got back in the car and it was Arizona or bust. The scenery was bizarre for me.  Mountains, but brown and craggy.  Still beautiful, just very different from the lush Blue Ridge Mountains here in Virginia.

Once we got into Arizona,  the scenery looked a little more like this.

As we got close the canyon, I saw a billboard for Bearizona.  My interest was instantly piqued and I went to work googling it on my phone hoping it was close by.  It was!  I was pretty excited.  It’s a drive-through wildlife park, kind of like Safari Park here in Virginia. We decided to go after visiting the canyon.  This is where it’s extremely advantageous being on your own.  This would have never happened on a tour trip.

We finally arrived at the south rim visitor center. Entrance fees were free due to Earth Day!  We parked and didn’t really know what we were doing, but just followed the signs to the lookout point.  We came around a corner and finally saw it and it really was a wow moment.  Majestic and big.

First, we actually went to the lookout points — which are areas that jut out along the rim and have rails.  We jockeyed with all of the tourists and could never get a photo without someone else in it.

So, we gave up and decided to move on the the next lookout point.  Here’s the thing — don’t bother with lookout points.  Just walk along the path and stop where you want and you have the canyon all to yourself.  Just don’t be stupid and get too close to the edge.

As much as we hated to leave the canyon, we decided to head out so we could visit Bearizona and because I was getting sunburned.  We didn’t have much time, so we had lunch at Wendy’s.  There are a couple little restaurants on the main road to the canyon though.

Bearizona

Bearizona is right on the way to the canyon, like one minute off route.  So, we drove up and got our tickets and I got in the back seat with the camera so I could go from side to side, depending on where the animals are. If you have never been to one of these drive through parks, there is the huge area fenced, but once you are inside, it’s like the animals roam free.  In this case, they were divided into sections.   We saw bison, donkeys, wolves, etc.

The bison. Doesn’t he look sad?  Poor guy.

A wolf.

I was just itching to see those bears.  I have never seen a bear before, so I was pretty excited.  I was worried since some of the animals stayed back from the trail and you couldn’t see them very good.  But, not the bears!  We finally got to the bear section and there were lots of them and they were not shy! They were close to the road, but sort of oblivious to us.  On the way in, they told us to keep our windows rolled up for the bear section as they’d been aggressive earlier and were trying to eat cars.  Hmmm.  Not good.  But, these bears were very chill.  I’m sort of thinking that for them to have behaved like that, maybe they were provoked.  I had the windows down and was practically hanging out of the car getting pictures.

Seriously, how cute is this one sitting like this?

This one is chowing down.

Baby bears! So stinking cute. Look at the little bear paw.

This one was climbing down a tree.

We finally left for the long five-hour trip back to Vegas.  All in all, it was a great day.  I highly recommend driving yourself. We even got back in time to change and go out that night.

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  • Heather

    Stunning pics, thx for sharing. Love the bears!