I had just returned from backpacking in Central America for three weeks and was out wearing a tribal necklace in L.A. At a party, a guy named Nick asked me about it and we bonded over our shared love for travel. At the end of our hour-long convo, Nick told me he and three of his best friends were going on a Grand Canyon adventure the following weekend and he invited me to join. I took a few moments to think about it – if his invitation happened during one of my international trips I would have said yes immediately – and so I quickly decided to bring my spontaneous travel attitude stateside.
From Los Angeles, the easiest way to get to the Grand Canyon is by car or flying. My friends wanted to make an adventure out of the trip so we took an overnight Amtrak train (Southwest Chief) to Flagstaff, Arizona. At Union Station in Los Angeles, I met up with my new travel buddies Nick, Angellina, Maggie and Mo. Meeting the group made me feel like I was on a season of “The Real World” and I was excited for our Grand Canyon adventure.
When we arrived in Flagstaff early in the morning, my cousin Michael (who lives there) surprised me with Dunkin Donuts! Growing up in Chicago, our grandparents ALWAYS brought over Dunkin Donuts anytime they visited. The taste of home was such a nice surprise. We all ate breakfast in town until the rental car office opened and then hopped in our rental to continue our Grand Canyon adventure.
Our trip was awesome! We spent our afternoons day hiking in the canyon and our nights bonding over bonfires, board games and booze. There are so many hiking options and the paths you choose really depend on what you’re looking for. We enjoyed the Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail. If you’re unsure, you can get a lot of helpful information at the Visitor and Information Center on site. If you’re looking to prepare beforehand, The National Park Services is also a great resource to help plan your Grand Canyon adventure.
Nick found us an incredible home for our Grand Canyon adventure! I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend staying at Hull Cabin. The cabin was adorable and completely secluded. It had four beds (two bunk beds) and a pullout bed. There’s a kitchen, stove, outdoor fire pit and an outhouse. It’s located in the Kaibab National Forest just a short car ride away (15 minutes) from the Grand Canyon. I would ABSOLUTELY stay here again and can’t wait to go back.
Any Grand Canyon adventure is absolutely breathtaking. Pictures don’t do it justice. Visiting makes me realize I don’t have to travel halfway around the world to see natural beauty. It really made me appreciate how beautiful my own country is and motivated me to take advantage of visiting U.S. National Parks in future trips. I couldn’t be happier that I said “yes” to going on a trip with four strangers because of my “backpacker’s mentality.” Once again, going out of my comfort zone allowed me to make new friends and create incredible memories.