The Grand Canyon and Beyond
We were most definitely lost.
There I was in the middle of the desert staring at a locked gate and re-reading my printed directions. Charles was tapping the steering wheel impatiently, awaiting further navigational instructions and looking anxiously in my direction. “Let me call,” I stammered; but when I peered at my phone I saw the dreaded “no service” screen.
Then out of the corner of my eye I spotted a lady standing on her porch in the distance. She was waving at us. I just figured it was a friendly community, so I waved back. Then she motioned for us to come up the hill toward her house, so off we went. Charles rolled down his window and the neighbor lady smiled and queried, “Are you looking for the Airbnb?” We nodded in unison like a pair of baby chicks.
Then she jumped in with her animated directions, complete with hand signals. We both kind of just stared blankly at her, with a mutual look of bewilderment on our faces. Our welcome wagon savior stopped mid-sentence, stared quizzically at us and very slowly asked, “Do you speak English, honey?” I looked down at my directions and sputtered, “Um yes, but, but, but our directions say to go another way, and...”. She cut me off mid-sputter. “Well that’s all well and good, but that’s not how things work in this town,” she emphatically replied. And she proceeded with her animated directions.
In the end we found our cottage and had a good laugh that night. And that’s what a road trip is all about — an adventure to remember. It wasn’t the first time we took a wrong turn — on that or any road trip — and it most certainly won’t be the last either.
So when I sat down to outline the second edition of this book, I thought back on some of our more memorable road trip discoveries from wrong turns, and I realized that I needed to expand the scope of this title. After all, the main way people get to the Grand Canyon is by vehicle; and with remnants of Route 66 and a bevy of kitschy attractions along Interstate 40 from Kingman to Winslow, it just makes sense to also include them in the second edition. And of course, if you’re going to make a real road trip out of it, you also need information about accessible dining and lodging options along the way, so those listings made the cut as well.
But that isn’t the only reason for a second edition of this popular access guide.
It’s been five years since the publication of the first edition of this book, and in that time I’ve seen more than a few changes in what’s often been described as “America’s favorite national park.”
For starters, there’s the expansion of the accessible multiuse Greenway Trail on the South Rim. Although this project took years to complete, it was definitely worth the wait.
Additionally, on my previous visit a good portion of the Rim Trail from the South Kaibab Trailhead to Hermit Road was accessible; however there were still some steps, bumps and steep sections along the way. I’m happy to report that those access obstacles have been removed, and there’s now a contiguous five-mile accessible trail along the South Rim. Again, this was a multi-year project, but I’m excited to share this improvement with my readers.
Accessible shuttle service continues to be the norm in the park — and it’s even been expanded to Tusayan. So now you can stay in an accessible hotel in Tusayan — I’ve covered those in this edition too — and leave the driving to someone else.
Additionally, I’m thrilled to report that more South Rim improvements are also on the drawing board. As aging properties are renovated, access obstacles — like steps — are removed. Historic Bright Angel Lodge now has an accessible front entrance, complete with automatic doors. And Maswik South will be razed and replaced with a new — and undoubtedly more accessible — incarnation.
Access has also improved on the North Rim, where some of the “semi-accessible” cabins that I looked at five years ago have been converted to fully accessible units. Now that’s a step in the right direction for sure.
Grand Canyon West has also seen a few improvements since my last visit, including the completion of the Diamond Bar Road paving project. They’ve also added a new restaurant, and their entire fleet of shuttle buses is now lift-equipped.
So between these changes and the new section of the book, an update was definitely in order. And there’s just no better time to release this expanded edition than on the 100th birthday of Grand Canyon National Park — February 26, 2019.
So get ready to explore all that the Grand Canyon has to offer. Plan a road trip and drive along a few remaining stretches of the Mother Road, ride a historic train, explore red rock country or just go and stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Getting there is truly half the fun, and this book will help you do that in a very accessible way.
And if you spot some changes along your journey, be sure and let me know so I can post them on www.barrierfreeGrandCanyon.com.
Enjoy this beautiful national park — and let me know how your trip went!