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Grand Canyon National Park: Lonely Planet    by Jennifer Denniston, Amy Marr & David Lukas order for
Grand Canyon National Park
by Jennifer Denniston
Order:  USA  Can
Lonely Planet, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I'm a big fan of Lonely Planet guides, having relied on them while travelling on my own in far-flung places like India, Bali and New Zealand. I've always found them to be compact, inspiring, informative, and accessible. I opened this Grand Canyon National Park guide with great interest. This is one of those Natural Wonders of the World destinations that are high on our family's to travel list. We've wondered how to organize a trip, when would be the best time to visit, and what it would cost. Finally, some answers!

The picture on the front of the guidebook is enough to convince me to start planning, and the introduction calls a Grand Canyon trip 'an iconic American experience' and a 'romanticized wilderness ideal', of 'mind-blowing' dimensions. We are informed that most visitors focus on one of the two rims for their trip, usually the South, and that the area attracts hikers and rafters year round. There are archaeological sites to visit, including ones with petroglyphs and pictographs. The guidebook covers both South and North Rim sights and activities. Chapters list places to stay and to eat, and one emphasizes don't miss 'Highlights'. A variety of possible 'Itineraries' are described (from drive-by and day trips to a two week visit), and there is practical information for 'Planning a Trip', as well as a section on outdoor 'Activities', including those for kids. There are many maps, chapters on 'History', 'Geology' and 'Ecosystem', and an appendix of resources.

Browse the Highlights for inspiration, from lyrical writing and gorgeous photos, with 'teasing hints' of the park's natural and cultural splendors. Activities include hiking, mule trekking, rock climbing, rafting, horse-back riding, biking, fishing and, in winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Interspersed with information (which includes activity difficulty levels and checklists) are useful tips like where to find mule-free (hence manure-free) trails, restrictions on pets in the park, and even how to get hitched there! Helicopter rides and airplane tours are available, as are ranger classes and learning vacations - amongst other programs, kids (4-14) can earn a Junior Ranger badge. I especially enjoyed the historical information on ancient cultures in the Canyon, and am intrigued to see the buildings designed by architect Mary Colter, and the natural hanging gardens of the park.

I have learned from long experience to trust Lonely Planet guides, and recommend this one to you for your trip to Grand Canyon; it is certainly my own first choice for our planned family vacation there.

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