by Staff Reports
In Arizona, it’s pretty much a tradition to go to the hills in the middle of summer. After all, when the thermometer reaches 110º+, it’s time to get out of town!
So, load up and point your car north to higher elevations and cooler temperatures. This year is a very special time to make that trek, because it’s the 100th Anniversary of the Grand Canyon’s designation as a national park.
The Grand Canyon
A year-long celebration is taking place, so here are a few of the events that you may be interested in attending while escaping the heat!
- June 22-29, 2019 @ 7 PM, the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association will help explore the starry heavens at the Grand Canyon Centennial Star Party. There will be numerous telescopes pointed at planets, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies. This is a free event and open to the public.
- June 22, 2019 is a Junior Ranger Day, allowing your youngster between the ages of 5-13 to participate in activities regarding national parks.
- June 29, 2019 there will be two events – a Centennial Summerfest at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Plaza, and a Grand Archaeology Fair at Desert View. The Summerfest will offer cultural demonstrations, Arizona food and brews and more. The Archeology Fair will feature outdoor stations with several hands-on activities, including jewelry making, a recreation of an archaeological dig and much more.
- August 8-9, 2019 is an event celebrating Native American Heritage Days at the North Rim. The programmed activities will take place in various locations throughout the North Rim, and is free and open to the public.
- August 25, and September 28, 2019 are Fee Free Days. The Grand Canyon and all National Parks are offering these fee free days, where there will be no charge to enter the park.
From Casa Grande, it will take about 4 ½ hours to arrive at the Grand Canyon going through Flagstaff.
If that seems like a long time in the car, consider taking three or four days and stopping along the way.
When routing your trip to the Grand Canyon, you might want to go through Prescott. That will take about 2 ½ hours to arrive, and it’s a lovely place to stop. Have a picnic on the grass of the Courthouse Plaza, and check out the brand new Western Heritage Center on Whiskey Row. Prescott also has three museums in town: Sharlot Hall, Smoki Museum, and the Phippen Museum. Watson Lake and Goldwater Lake are both stunning and great places to visit. Swimming is not allowed, but you can fish or rent a canoe or kayak. Watson Lake allows overnight camping. The lakes are both owned by the City of Prescott. For more information, go to their website at www.prescott-az.gov
It will take just over two hours to reach the Grand Canyon from Prescott by car. If your budget is a bit tight, choose a hotel in Prescott, visit the museums and enjoy the city, and then plan to get an early start in the morning. Prices are higher than usual at the Grand Canyon both for meals and lodging, and hotels book up fast. You might want to even pack a lunch for your day at the Canyon!
Grand Canyon Railway Train
Another option is to go to Williams and then take the Grand Canyon Railway train north. You can purchase train tickets alone (starting at just $33.50 one way), or bundle them in a package with hotel and meals included. AARP and AAA members can get a 15% discount on train, hotel and RV Park reservations. Note: You will still need to pay for your Park entrance fees.
Explore the Grand Canyon Railway website for more information: www.thetrain.com
Oak Creek Canyon & Slide Rock
Heading back to the Valley, consider driving through Oak Creek Canyon and enjoying a visit to Slide Rock State Park. Slide Rock is a historic apple farm, and a fun way to cool off in the waters.
Find out more at azstateparks.com/slide-rock
Montezuma Castle is a National Monument in Camp Verde along the Beaver Creek. It is one of the four original sites designated as a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, and considered to be one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.
From the Visitor Center, there’s an easy walk to the Castle, and opportunities for great photos. You can use your National Park Pass for your entrance fee. www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm
Did you know?
4th Graders (or 10 year-old homeschoolers) can get a free annual pass!
The 4th Grader pass is designed to encourage them to visit the National Parks and all federal lands, valid for their entire 4th grade year, plus the following summer. The Every Kid in a Park website states that no matter where you live, you’re within 2 hours of an included site.