We stopped at the Visitors Center. The projector is broken so we didn't see the film. But, we looked at the exhibits and a ranger answered my questions about the rim trails.
The Rim Trail passes through piñon pine forests, connecting the scenic vistas between Pipe Creek Vista (on the east side) and Hermit's Rest (on the west side). The trail is paved from Pipe Creek to Maricopa. Of the paved trail only the portion from Yavapi Point to Bright Angel Lodge is wheel-chair accessible. The remainder of the paved trail is steep. (In order to avoid irritating my back, I avoid trails with an incline.) From Maricopa Point to Hermit's Rest, portions of the trail are not maintained. May be difficult to follow, are close to the edge, and lack protective railing.
We rode the Orange shuttle route and stopped at South Kaibab Trailhead, Yakima Point, and Mather Point vistas. We skipped Pipe Creek Vista because we already stopped there when we stopped at the Desert View vistas.
Yavapai Point includes the Geology Museum. Scientists chose the location as the best spot to view and understand the Grand Canyon's geology. The maps and other exhibits clearly display which layers of the canyons are from each era. It states that anything within the last 270 million years has eroded away (this includes the time of the dinosaurs). There are additional missing millions of years.
Having seen all of the vistas, Mule said that he prefers the Desert View (east ones during the day because the heavy shadows hinder good sunset shots. He likes the Hermit's Rest vistas (west side) for sunset shots.
We visited to Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio then relaxed instead of shooting the sunset.
"In the Grand Canyon there are thousands of gorges like that below Niagara Falls and there are thousands of Yosemite's. Yet all of these canyons combine to form one Grand Canyon, the most sublime spectacle on the earth." John Wesley Powell, 1895. Only a speck of the national park is accessible without going into the backcountry.
Above: Lookout Studio.
Mary Coulter designed Phantom Ranch in 1922. She also designed four structures on the South Rim: Hopi (1905), Lookout Studio (1914), Desert View Watch Tower (1932), Bright Angel Lodge (1935). She also decorated the El Tovar Hotel. The Bright Angel Lodge became the model for National Park Service rustic and Mary is credited for inspiring the Pueblo Deco style. (Underwood designed The Yosemite Ahwahnee
and the Grand Canyon's north rim lodge.)
Below: Kolb Studio with Mule in the foreground