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My Top 10 most spectacular places I have visited: # 2

It was a question I was hoping no one would ask.

We were standing on the rim of what was touted as the world’s second largest river canyon. My Australian friend, standing next to me, had travelled extensively but had not visited North America.

“Have you been to the Grand Canyon?” he asked me.

“Yes,” I assured him.

“How does this compare?”

Yikes! I thought, How do I answer this diplomatically?

“Well,” I answered, “If the Grand Canyon is a 10, this is maybe a 2.” Ouch!

There really is no diplomatic way of putting it. The Grand Canyon simply is that impressive!

(The role was reversed two weeks later when I asked him how the waterfall we were viewing compared with Iguazu Falls in South America.)

The first time I saw the Grand Canyon I was travelling with my son, doing something similar to the Western Kaleidoscope trip that West Adventures offers. We’d previously seen a few other canyons together. Now we’d reached what we understood to be the ultimate canyon.

On stopping in the parking lot, just at the rim, my son first needed to change film in his camera (remember those days?) I was too anxious to wait. I walked down a short path that led to the rim, and my jaw just dropped!

Despite all the photos I’d seen, the site before me could not possibly have been imagined—or described.

I returned to the vehicle just as he was finishing his task, and simply remarked, “Jeremy, if this is a 10, no other canyon you’ve ever seen rates more than a 1 or 2.”

It was late afternoon, and we just gazed at the magnificence for hours, roamed the various trails to particular promontories and then watched the sunset over the canyon. In between, we were treated to an amazing lightning storm, with numerous opportunities to try to capture the impressive streaks over the canyon with our amateur cameras and just-as-amateur skills. (We never did succeed!).

That night we camped in the nearby town. No way were we leaving this place before getting the sunrise view over the canyon, as well. We were up early for that completely different view, then travelled along the rim with several more significant stops along the way for different perspectives on this magnificent chasm.

The Grand Canyon gets the number 2 spot on my list not only because of its grandeur, but also because of its impressive geologic story and because of its vast pre-eminence over all pretenders.

West Adventures visits at least four American national parks defined by their canyons on the Western Kaleidoscope and Ultimate Road Trip itineraries. They are all unique from one another and have their own measures of impressiveness. The Grand Canyon stands out, though, because of its sheer vastness and beauty.