At the Grand Canyon we were mesmerized by the awesome (to quote my grandson) canyon, one of the great natural wonders of the world, and entertained by local Navaho Indian dancers. That adventure took all day as we visited the Hopi house and the visitor center and wandered. Little Tinker was left behind at the RV park's doggie day care while we did the train trip.
The next day we visited Bearizona, named one of the top ten best drive through wildlife parks in the U.S. by USA Today. Only six years old, it is quite impressive. The boys loved the Birds of Prey show where the birds swooped down just above their heads, and then the "wild ride" open air tram tour to see animals, such as the baby bison that ran right up to us and the bears in trees, and timber wolves and mountain goats, all in an open setting. Then we walked to see the smaller animals like the bobcats and otters and the boys loved playing with the pigmy goats in the petting zoo. It was delightful and entertaining.
In between these activities, we saw old west shows and street cowboy standoffs with plenty of dancing included. The town of Williams has managed to keep itself a fun little cowboy town on historic old Route 66. Nestled at the base of Bill Williams Mountain, Williams sits in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine Forests in the world. I happen to love the smell of pine and it permeates Williams.
One thing that I was impressed with was the environmental stewardship of the Grand Canyon Hotel/RV complex where we stayed, the train system and the Bearizona wildlife park. The resort has been awarded, among many other things, a TripAdvisor Green Leaders Gold Certification recognizing their commitment to sustainability through their solar thermal program, landfill diversion efforts, and water conservation measures. Among other things, they recycle all of their paper waste to use 100% recycled paper daily and they clean the resort with all citrus-based biodegradable products. They also divert 7 tons of food from the hotel cafe and pub to feed the animals at Bearizona.
The railway recently became the first tourist railway in the U.S. to receive ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system. Two vintage steam locomotives have even been converted to run on waste vegetable oil!
Lastly, because I am an artist, I loved the way that all of the backdrops and "rocks" at Bearizona were constructed over waste materials, old train cars, and materials from junkyards. The artists simply added to this base to fabricate the realistic rocks and backdrop for the park.
Way to go, northern Arizona!
What a fun little vacation that I highly recommend!
* much more about the environmental stewardship efforts can be found on the internet.