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We've always wanted to explore the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but didn't feel we were fit enough to climb out using the trails with the 5,000 or so foot elevation gain. So we decided to take the easy and most classic way to tour the canyon: riding the mules.
The trip was actually purchased from park operator Xanterra as a complete package. Our trip started with a night's stay at the old El Tovar near the mule stables and start of the mule trek. Of course, the package included the down and up trip on the mules. It also included two nights stay (with meals) at the Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon and then another night's stay at the El Tovar after the mule ride.
Riding the mules, we went down the Bright Angel Trail which descends steeply down the South Rim right next to El Tovar. Along the way, we went through the southern section of Bright Angel Canyon, stopped at Indian Garden for lunch, went deeper into the inner gorge, rode along the Colorado River inside Granite Gorge, crossed on the older suspension bridge and then finished at Phantom Ranch. The second day, we hiked a total of 11.4 miles from Phantom Ranch to Ribbon Falls and back via the North Kaibab Trail. The third day, we rode the mule back up to the South Rim via the South Kaibab Trail.
We took this trip in mid-March to avoid the dreaded heat normally experienced at the bottom of the canyon, but risked running into bad weather at the rim. We lucked out. When we started descending at the rim, the temperature was in the 50s and when we arrived later that day in Phantom Ranch, it was in the 80s. On the day we left the rim for home, it was snowing.
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Once you have a dialog box, select the option to “Install” and follow your browser’s instructions. When the installation is complete, the Virtual Tour will begin downloading. If it doesn’t, click the “Refresh” button on your browser. For instructions on how to use Presenter, click here.
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Once the plug-in has been installed, the Virtual Tour will be downloaded. Depending on the speed of your Internet connection, you will either immediately see the opening photograph of the Virtual Tour or a black area with the words “Buffering” and the numbers for percent downloaded and time remaining.
Once downloaded, use your mouse to click on the Virtual Tour that you want to take. Once the tour is running, move your mouse to the bottom of the viewing area to display the control bar.
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After watching the whole thing, I'm sure someone is going to be curious about what they were listening to. Here is a list of the copywritten material that is heard in our tour:
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