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The Grand Canyon

The last roadtrip update was of our time in Yosemite. From there, we spent a few days with friends in San Luis Obispo (such a fun time for the kids and grown-ups! See a few photos here and here). Next, we drove to Malibu and spent a day in Hollywood doing the Hollywood things like seeing the stars on the sidewalk, visiting the Natural History Museum (so cool!), and we even stopped off at the university where Ryan and I met to show the kids around.

We left California and drove through Las Vegas and on to Hoover Dam for a quick stop.

IMG_2873IMG_2905IMG_2904Then continued our journey into Arizona to The Grand Canyon. This was a first for all of us and words can’t describe what a cool experience walking up to the edge of the canyon is for the first time.

20160516_182136We arrived just in time to look over the edge, facetime with my parents and head to El Tovar for our dinner reservations.

VZM.IMG_20160516_190718A friend of ours from home used to work at the hotel and told us months ago that we needed to do dinner at the restaurant. We had no idea how nice it was! It was such a fun way to spend our first night at the Grand Canyon – eating fancy food and using our best manners and getting a front row seat at the gorgeous sunset.

IMG_2937Day two was planned as a hiking day. We walked into the park and did the obligatory sit-on-the-sign picture:

IMG_3802-001 IMG_3803 IMG_3805Funny story: there was a group of tourists from Taiwan who were pretty smitten with our very American-looking children and they wanted photos with them. This has now happened to us twice on the trip :)

We walked to Mather Point, which is a great overlook where you can see for miles. IMG_3811 IMG_3813 dadandboys IMG_3823 IMG_3830 IMG_3833 IMG_3846

emilysmilingkids IMG_3859IMG_2956emstandingAnd then we did something spontaneous and so worthwhile and hopped on a helicopter tour over the canyon.

IMG_3891It was amazing.
IMG_3882 IMG_3884IMG_2964 IMG_3888 IMG_3001 The views from the air were truly impressive and it was such a cool way to experience the Grand Canyon. We even got to see a rare California Condor (here’s some interesting facts, if you’re into animal extinction-turned survival stories)!

The Grand Canyon is pretty incredible. It is so big. So hard to photograph to really show its scale. The canyon goes down nearly one mile and covers more area than the entire state of Delaware. It’s so big. I especially loved seeing where the Little Colorado River feeds into the Colorado River (see the lighter aqua blue above? That’s the little colorado), and the variation in colors on the canyon walls.

Our whole time in The Grand Canyon felt like a once-in-a lifetime experience. The sunset. Our dinner out. The views. The helicopter ride. I think this will be seared in the kids’ minds for forever.


Don’t forget to follow along day by day on instagram. I’m at @jonesdesigncompany and you can follow Ryan, too, at @ryanlex

32 thoughts on “The Grand Canyon”

  1. Love your GC pics! We also took a helicopter tour, it was fantastic!
    I am sure you have been asked this question before but how did you get your kids out of school so early for this trip? My niece and nephew go to Issaquah HS and they are in until past mid June?

  2. I wish I had done this trip with my kids! What wonderful memories you will all treasure for a lifetime.
    We did take our kids to Zion and the Grand Canyon and loved it!
    I’m enjoying traveling vicariously through your blog!

  3. Christie McGetrick

    I had such a great time at the Canyon in April. Had dinner and breakfast at El Tovar. Glad you all enjoyed it.

  4. Great place to visit. I was there about 5 years ago and it’s been the best vacation yet and I have been all over.

  5. Thank you for sharing this wonderful journey with us. Your pictures are stunning and evidence of yet another of your artistic talents. I admit I gasped a bit at the pic of you and your daughter SO close to the edge of the canyon….spectacular and breath taking! Can’t wait for the next blog post!

  6. Love your trip pics…and these of the Grand Canyon are spectacular. Your artistic talents continue in your gifts as a fantastic photographer. The pics of you and your daughter SO close to the edge took my breath away but I just kept scrolling back and forth. Thank you for sharing, so personally, this wonderful memory making journey you and your family are embarking upon. Can’t wait for your next blog post!!!

  7. What a great adventure! Thanks so much for all the extras that you do so we can enjoy along with you. You make it look so easy! And stylish, too.

    You are creating traditions in your family. Family outings, explore, enjoy America, give to those who follow your Blog, learn as you play and travel. Save Precious Memories!Your children will remember and recreate the traditions in their own families, too.

  8. This post made me tear up just a bit. I am from AZ and have hiked the Grand Canyon more than once. We moved back to AZ a few years ago and live a couple hours away from the Canyon in the pines of the White Mountains. I am so glad you all enjoyed AZ! It always makes me smile to see a family doing things together and creating fond memories with each other! A family that plays together, stays together!

  9. Loved the pictures and am enjoying following along on your trip
    Strange question: I’m looking for a back pack and really like yours. When you get a moment, will you please tell me what kind it is and are you happy with it? Thanks!

  10. What majestic beauty God has created for us! Can you please tell us how you connected with the helicopter ride, like the company and the cost? It’s our 25th wedding anniversary this year! I would love to take my husband there!

  11. Tay Cutchin Satterfield

    Hi Emily !! Absolutely stunning photos !! I’m SO GLAD that you took the helicopter tour !! My parents and I were with a group and visited the Grand Canyon in 1983 (you know…LAST CENTURY !! LOL). My dad paid for me to take a tour aboard a small airplane and it was AMAZING. Truly a memory I’ve never forgotten !! We flew below the rim and it is so huge !! Your children will never forget this experience. I’m certainly enjoying your trip !! Stay safe !!

  12. I think I’ve developed a girl crush. I’ve checked in on your site from time to time via Pinterest but have become an avid follower since discovering your cross country trip plans. Like you and your family my family and I will be heading off for a cross country family vacation this summer. Unlike you we have not planned ahead nor will we be spending near as much time but I’ve already taken much of what you have provided here in your blog to heart and it has tremendously helped me wrap my mind around what all it could be. The documentation of your travels so far are lovely and your photos extraordinary. I’m so very much enjoying what you are sharing and a bit envious of the wonderful keepsake you are creating that the generations will be able to enjoy. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! It takes a bit of planning and lots of flexibility. I know all of these photos show the happy, wonderful times – which there are many, for sure – but it has also been hard. Lots of time for introspection and little distraction like we have at home which makes us deal with things we could avoid in ‘normal’ life. I am grateful for all of the experiences :)

  13. Yes, I remember being a kid and getting asked to pose for photos with tourists–both as a small child and high schooler! I love that it’s kind of a table-turning experience since US citizens make children in other countries pose all the time when visiting.

  14. You totally make me want to take my kids (who are 14 and 17!!) here.
    I went with my family as a child, your pics are amazing! So much fun

  15. So fun! I feel free to tell you this because you’ve already done it, but a recently statistical analysis of deaths in the Grand Canyon showed that the most common way to die was in a helicopter crash. Obviously since so many people die in helicopter crashes at once, it skews the data. But all that to say, so glad you enjoyed it and came out unscathed! And next time, you should definitely raft it instead :D

  16. What an amazing experience! I vividly remember going to the Grand Canyon with my family when I was 7. I desperately wanted to take the donkey ride below the rim and was thwarted because you had to be 14. The helicopter ride looks amazing! What an incredible memory for your kids.

  17. You’re such a great writer! I’m super impressed with your ability to communicate so well through blogging! What a gift. Happy, safe travels!

  18. I would probably never see this and read of this without your sharing. I have enjoyed your post and your family touring. Thank you.

  19. Thank you for sharing your family travel experience. I am delighted to open the posts and see the wonderful photos and read the details about your progress. These travels will be legendary for your family!

  20. Ahhh! I’m drooling over your trip. Don’t be surprised if it’s completely replicated next year by my family ;)

  21. The national news did a story on a blogger couple that are blogging about visiting all of the national parks. Great story, but was a little bummed it wasn’t about you guys!

    Great pics and makes me miss the canyon! It is such a magical place! (You’re setting the bar pretty high for the rest of your trip by the way! lol)
    I also highly recommend rafting the canyon too! Such a different perspective and the rapids are huge! I recommend using Western River Expeditions, pricey but worth every penny. I think kids have to be 10 to do it, so you have some time to save up. Follow them on IG!

  22. You are such an inspiration! Reading your updates, seeing everything through your trip, I want to do this with my family!! What a wonderful treasured experience that I’m confident none of you will ever forget. Thank you for letting us travel with you :)

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