After a yearlong delay due to COVID, the MINI Maniacs finally completed the run to Grand Canyon in May, the club’s first visit ever to the national park. The 452-mile route from the meet up at Ontario Mills to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was driven in two days. The first night was spent in Laughlin, NV, at the Riverside Resort & Casino. On the second day the group followed Route 66 through Peach Springs and Seligman, where many of the original roadside attractions, motels and gas stations, still operate for tourists. A lunch stop was made in Williams, AZ, before the group headed north into the park.
For some this was their first time seeing the Grand Canyon, for others it was reliving a childhood vacation, but everyone agreed it was a spectacular sight to see, and the canyon did not disappoint.
On Saturday, the first full day spent in the park, members were on their own to explore, hike, shop for souvenirs, or just relax and enjoy the views. A highlight for many was dining at the park’s historic El Tovar Lodge, and especially for the six lucky MINI Maniacs that got to eat in Teddy Roosevelt’s private dining room. Built in 1905, at a cost of $250,000, El Tovar was considered the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the site and said, “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world…Let this great wonder of nature remain as it is now.” It wasn’t until 1919 that Grand Canyon was designated a national park, the 15th in a system that now encompasses 63 national parks and 423 national park sites.
“Visiting the Grand Canyon has always been at the top of my bucket list, but the opportunity to experience the grandeur of those views for the first time with our MINI friends made it even more spectacular,” said SCMM Events Director Craig Williams. “The caravan up there, the weather, the camaraderie, and then those awesome views, were all incredible. What an amazing national park. We want to go back!”