I left the Grand Canyon heading east, to Desert View. This is the location where the southward-flowing Colorado River makes a right turn and heads west, towards the main Grand Canyon Village.
I made some interesting observations at Desert View regarding barefootedness in the National Parks.
It should first be noted that the National Park Service does not actually run their concessions: the General Stores, the Campgrounds, the Shuttle Buses, etc.. They contract those out to various businesses.
For instance, at Mesa Verde, the campground and other concessions are run by ARAMARK. At the Grand Canyon, they are run by Xanterra, with the Shuttle Buses run by Paul Revere Transportation. At Bryce Canyon, they are run by Forever Resorts.
It appears that the National Park Service does not impose many standards on these contractors as to what they ought to or ought not allow. Hence my problem with the shuttle buses.
At Mesa Verde, I had no trouble going barefoot anywhere. The General Store there had no signs. I sat there barefoot for hours using their WiFi sitting right next to groceries, and nobody cared, or even thought to care. Yay!
At the Grand Canyon, I already mentioned the sign on their General Store in Grand Canyon Village.
Their prices also stank.
But there was a very interesting sign at Desert View (still run by Xanterra).
But first let’s visit Desert View (again, click for larger versions of many of these pictures).
This is looking north, and you can see the Colorado River heading south right towards us, and then turning west.
This is also the location of the Mary Colter Watchtower, built in 1932. (Mary Colter was the architect that designed it and oversaw its construction.)
This was a wonderful building to walk around in barefoot and to climb to the top where there are spectacular views. The stone floors and stairs were wonderful to feel underfoot.
At this point I just want to add that I never had any trouble going barefoot in any government building, at any of the places I visited. The Visitor Centers were fine with me; the Bookstores were fine. The various Museums I visited in the National Parks said not a word (except occasionally in curiousity, not condemnation). This of course includes wandering around the Watchtower.
Here I am at one of the overlooks at the Watchtower; the camera is looking west, downriver.
(I want to hear no comments about my hair—I have no idea what happened, except that it was a very windy day.)
I had a very interesting conversation with the wife of the person I got to take my picture. She suddenly noticed my bare feet and was just amazed (and thought they looked particularly strong). I mentioned that I’d just hiked the Grand Canyon (mostly) barefoot, and she said she had recently heard from some Rangers about somebody who was doing so. Me? Somebody else? I don’t know, but it is cool nonetheless.
As I left, I walked to the gift shop there at Desert View.
At the entrance was a very interesting sign, to my eyes.
For those who cannot see the picture, it says
Shoes and Shirts are required in the Snack Bar, or we will be unable to serve you.
Thank you for your cooperation.
You know what? I think they believe the old Health Code myth. It may be worth some effort straightening them out (and that might also apply to their General Store back at Grand Canyon Village). Maybe there is a chance of getting those signs removed.
After visiting Desert View, I headed north, and I’ll write about that tomorrow.