At 446km (277miles) long, up to 29km (18miles) wide and 1.6km (1mile) deep, the Grand Canyon is an immense and inspiring sight. The Grand Canyon lies on the Colorado Plateau in north western Arizona and is of geological significance, presenting 3 of the 4 eras of geological time in what is considered one of the first examples of arid-land erosion in the world. The Grand Canyon National Park contains five of the seven life zones of North America - the equivalent of travelling the distance from Mexico to Canada! As such, 1500 plant, 355 bird, 89 mammalian, 47 reptile, 9 amphibian and 17 fish species are present in the park. Further information about the Grand Canyon National Park can be found at the Park's dedicated website.
ACE's Conservation Vacation participants will stay in the Mather Campground on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park during the week, and at the Desert View Campground at the weekend. The Mather Campground is located in a Ponderosa Pine habitat whilst the Desert View Campground provides stunning desert landscapes, more typically associated with Arizona. Both campgrounds are in close proximity to visitor centers and the rim of Grand Canyon. Drinking water and bathrooms with flushing toilets are available at both locations. Coin-operated showers and laundry machines can be found at the general store nearby and cost between $1 and $2.
At 9am on the first day (Monday) of the selected Conservation Vacation, participants will be picked up from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport by a shuttle bus service which will terminate at the Amtrak station in Flagstaff, Arizona.
An ACE representative will meet and greet all participants at the Amtrak station in Flagstaff at 12:30pm. The group will then travel together to Grand Canyon National Park, a journey of about 90 minutes.
Upon arrival at the park participants will be provided with a tent and an orientation to camping at Grand Canyon National Park. The group will then set up camp and prepare dinner together, before settling down for the first night under the stars.
Project Start Dates 2014:
Travel options after Grand Canyon NP
Once back in Flagstaff, volunteers have multiple options available to them. Due to its high elevation, Flagstaff is a great place to spend the summer in Arizona and is particularly popular for the hiking and mountain biking trails it has to offer. The nearby town of Sedona is also well worth a visit, accessible by the Arizona Shuttle. The Arizona Shuttle also provides transportation back to Phoenix, for those requiring onward flights.
For those wishing to explore further afield, the Amtrak station downtown offers daily services east to Santa Fe or west to Los Angeles. It is also possible to visit some of the other National Parks in the south west region. The Wicked Desert Experience Shuttle provides a hop-on, hop-off service from Flagstaff up to Zion National Park and onwards to Moab (Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park). Wicked Desert Experience offer participants of ACE a 10% discount.
Daily Schedule - Week 1
On Tuesday participants will be provided with a full orientation, safety briefing, and overview of the conservation projects to be undertaken during the Conservation Vacation. After lunch participants, led by the ACE Crew Leader, will start their volunteer service, as per the Park Service's schedule. The exact nature of the service will very much depend on the current requirements of the park but can include removal of invasive species, repairs to fencing and light trail work. For the remainder of the week participants will complete 8 hours of service each day, generally between 8:00am and 4:00pm. This will allow plenty of time in the evening for everyone to explore the park, hike, take photographs, or just relax and take in the inspiring views of the Grand Canyon National Park.
Daily Sechedule - Week 2
The second week will continue as the first with participants completing 8 hours of daily service from Monday until Thursday. The final Friday of the Conservation Vacation will be spent dismantling camp, packing all belongings, and cleaning the camp site (adhering to Leave No Trace principles). The return transfer to Flagstaff will then be made where onward journies to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport can be provided.
Weekends provide Conservation Vacation participants with free time to explore the area and Grand Canyon National Park. In collaboration with Bright angel Cycles, ACE is proud to be able to offer cycle rides along the rim of Grand Canyon. ACE will also provide a visit to the National Geographic Visitor Center, just outside the park, and a ticket to watch the IMAX movie 'Grand Canyon: Hidden Secrets'.
Alternatively Conservation Vacation participants can chose to to travel outside the park and explore the area (at own cost). For example, there are shuttle services to Flagstaff (www.arizonashuttle.com) which cost around $25 (one way). Flagstaff is a vibrant university town which has an abundance of easily-accessible hiking and mountain biking trails, a beautiful downtown area and a fine selection of restaurants and bars. More information about Flagstaff can be found at here or here.