I just spent a day at the Grand Canyon and I have one piece of advice: Don’t go.
Okay, that’s a lie. Go twice. Once to see it, and once to see it again without pissing yourself.
There are two reasons I think the Grand Canyon is a terrible place to visit:
1. It’s huge.
2. It’s more crowded than Disneyland.
The first one may seem like an odd detractor to the Grand Canyon experience, but allow me to explain. Of course the sheer size of the Grand Canyon is its main attraction. ”Grand” is an understatement. ”Gigantic Canyon,” or “Ohmygoditsfuckinghuge Canyon” might be a tad more accurate. No joke – when I arrived at the lookout point to see the Grand Canyon, I stopped dead in my tracks the moment I saw the gaping crevice and stood for a whole two minutes as my brain reassembled itself from the scrambled mess left in wake of incomprehensibility.
It’s unfathomably huge. You see, it’s not just a canyon. It’s hundreds of canyons, each one of which would be able to stand alone as its own national park. If you carved out a tiny, meaningless canyon from the Grand Canyon and placed it in Iowa, it would get a million visitors every year and be on the state quarter. But it’s not in Iowa, it’s in Northern Arizona attached to the Grand Canyon, so it’s meaningless. The Grand Canyon is so huge, everything about it loses meaning.
Think about it in terms of a tragedy in a movie. If aliens come and blow up a city, killing millions, it’s hard to care. A million deaths doesn’t mean much. But if a single character gets shot and slowly fades while whispering sweet farewells, being held by his brother as his brother tells him, “Don’t go… please don’t go…” everybody in the theater cries.
The Grand Canyon is a million people being blown up in a movie. Places like Zion, Mesa Verde, Crater Lake, and Joshua Tree may not be as massively cool, but when you enter them, you feel like you can explore every little crevice and become intimate with every little hike and site as you work your way up and down the park taking in the sounds and smells and everything else the humble little park has to offer. Just like one can explore the thematic, psychological, and emotional impact of a single character’s death, one can truly come to understand and enjoy every little piece of a smaller, quieter, more nurturing park.
But for the Grand Canyon, I walked up to the vista, stood there, and then said, “Well shit. It’s the Grand Canyon.” And then I left. There was nothing more I could do. I mean, I could go on a hike down into the canyon, but I would still be looking around muttering, “The Grand Canyon, man. So… so… Grand.” There is no hope for intimacy with the Grand Canyon.
I barely took any pictures, too. Just one, out of principle really.
And really, it’s more crowded than Disneyland.