Day 1-2 SF-Barstow to the Grand Canyon

picture of orange train car with yellow Santa Fe symbol in yellow
railway car at KOA

Day 1 we drove Highway 99 from Empire where we picked up the RV to Barstow in the dark and arrived at 2AM (we left late due to a little ER visit). One note- if you don’t like rough roads (horrific in an RV) take the slight detour and drive 5. 99 is terrible. As someone with ME/CFS is was too much disruption. We took the 5 on the way back and it was way better.

We have set things up to drive no more than 6 hours on most days.

We stayed at the KOA campground/RV park in Barstow. It was fine. There was space to get my wheelchair in and out (may not be not true in all sites) and the ground was possible to roll on.

Mojave Desert Gas Note: Get all your gas in Barstow (west side) or Needles (East side) before crossing the Mojave. The “Desert Oasis” gas station in the middle of the Mojave is twice the price of regular (expensive) CA gas (over $6 a gallon this trip!).

A view of a dock at a river with houses on the opposite bank and boats at the oak

On the drive we stopped at The Riverfront Cafe in Needles by the Colorado River for lunch. Was pleasant sitting out on the patio watching the boats go by. Food was ok. Location was weird (in a trailer park). Ground was very rough and difficult for the wheelchair leading to the cafe from the parking lot. I actually opted to use my cane and get dropped by the door.

Grand Canyon

We made the reservation for the RV spot in the Trailer Village RV Park back in February, and we got the very last spot for months (for May 2-3). If you plan to book a hotel, camping or RV spot in Grand Canyon Village, do it WAY in advance. I highly recommend visiting their website months in advance and planning.

When you enter the Gate to the Park at the Grand Canyon show your handicapped placard and documentation (the slip you keep in your car to prove your placard is valid). This will get you a pass you put on your dash for your vehicle to take the scenic view the shuttle bus takes, but you need to do it as you enter the park. For most people to get to the nearby scenic areas you have to take a shuttle or hike. There is handicapped parking at those viewpoints and they are wheelchair accessible so you can park and get out to look.

You can also get an Access National Parks Pass with your handicapped placard and documents at the gate. This gives you and those with you in your vehicle free admission to the Grand Canyon and most other National parks. We used it for The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches, the Petrified Forest and Joshua Tree National Parks.

We got into the Grand Canyon Village in time to see Mather’s Point at Sunset with lovely dramatic skies. It is pretty awe inspiring. Pictures just don’t capture the sheer scale of the thing.

The RV park is basically a parking lot with picnic tables, but it is a short walk/roll to the Yavapai lodge restaurant at the Yavapai Lodge (hotel), which was nice- good food with outdoor seating around a fire and heat pillars. This area has a very comprehensive store (groceries, fresh produce, hardware, rv things, and souvenirs) and the Post Office. Surface around the RVs is fine for wheelchairs and there is a paved path.

Mule Deer bending down to eat with trees and bushes around it
mule deer

The whole area around the Grand Canyon visitor center in Arizona is wheelchair accessible. You can get all the way to the edge (with big sturdy railings) at Mather’s Point. There is also a wheelchair accessible trail that goes along the edge in both directions for quite a ways, though not all viewpoints are accessible, and increasingly less so the farther from Mather’s Point.

There are mule deer, ravens and begging squirrels (do not feed!- rabies danger) aplenty. There are mule rides available but because this isn’t something I could do we didn’t look into it.

The Geology Museum, the viewpoint by it and the Watchtower area are totally wheelchair accessible accept of course the tower itself (stairs). The tower was closed for covid when we were there, but the gift shop/cafe was open. We headed out of the park along the route East of the village towards the Watchtower. There are tons of places to pull over and gawk at very different views of the canyon. If you can, stop for them all. They are gorgeous.

Published by Mary Corey March

I am a contemporary artist living and working in San Francisco. The root of my work is exploring both the individual person and humanity through identity, relationships, diversity, and commonality. How do we define ourselves and each other? Where do we draw the lines and what happens _on_ those lines? How to we frame our experiences? How much of our humanity can come through in a data format? Through our symbolic images? Our words? Our definitions? Our bodies? These are the questions I delve into again and again. In May of 2017 I became disabled with ME/CFS. I have since continued my artwork with the help of assistants. I am in a wheelchair outside of the home.

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