The Grand Canyon and Uluru Compared

Originally this website was created to help people considering a move from the UK down under to have a better understanding of what it’s really like to live in Australia.

I’m happy to say though that these days my readers come from all over the world and the reality is that I now have as many readers from the United States as I do from the United Kingdom.

Now, I can’t talk about the differences between living in the US and Australia in the same way as I can compare the differences between the UK and Oz, because I haven’t spent 49 and a half years living in the states.

But I have spent the last two weeks there, visiting, among other things, Arizona. So I can do a rather silly comparison like this…

The Grand Canyon versus Uluru

You can click on each image to enlarge it. First…

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon 2Take a good look at this one, I’ll be asking questions later…

Grand Canyon 3

Grand Canyon 4

Grand Canyon Sunset 1

Grand Canyon Sunset 2

Now…

Uluru

Uluru

Uluru 2

Uluru 3

Uluru 4

Uluru 5

Uluru 6

Uluru 7

Uluru 8

Uluru 9

Uluru 10

UluruYes, one is a great big hole in the ground and the other is a big red rock above the surface. Both are national parks, but how do they compare?

In no particular order of importance, let’s check it out.

Beers, wine and food

It was five years ago when I went to Uluru, I wrote about it in my post called Journey to the Centre of Australia. At that time, they were charging $54.60 for six small bottles of beer.

It was $27 for a pizza and $17 for a dried up burger. I was too scared to ask the price of wine and I’d hate to think what the prices are today.

In fairness, Uluru is pretty remote, there is nothing for nearly 500 kilometres until you get to Alice Springs. I’m not sure that’s a good enough excuse though.

At the Grand Canyon last week, six similarly sized beers cost $8.34 USD (about $12 AUD), in fact they had a full-sized supermarket selling the sort of stuff supermarkets sell for the sort of prices normal supermarkets sell it for.

Prices in the restaurant were normal as well, but, it should be noted, the Grand Canyon is nowhere near as remote as Uluru; the nearest town from where we approached it, the South Rim, was less than 100 kilometres away. Even so, this decision is easy.

Winner: The Grand Canyon

Climbing Uluru versus hiking down the Grand Canyon, and death

Don’t know, I didn’t do either. What do you think, I’m nuts?

When I wrote my post To Climb Uluru or Not to Climb Uluru? I discovered that there have been 37 recorded deaths of climbers; I wasn’t going to make it 38.

At 348 metres high it is almost as tall as the Empire State Building, and this is the route climbers take…

Climbing UluruThat’s nothing though, the Grand Canyon is about a mile deep and it would take an experienced hiker about three or four hours to get to the bottom and reach the Colorado River. Doing the round trip in one day is not recommended.

About 770 people have died in the Grand Canyon since the 1800s according to citylab, who go on to say that about a dozen fatalities occur each year on average.

Suicides, dehydration, hypothermia and accidents top the list. That’s why you won’t find me hiking down the Grand Canyon or even getting anywhere near close to the edge.

That brings me back to the third picture from above, you did take a close look, didn’t you? Well here’s a closer one…

Grand Canyon NuttersCan you see them now? Here’s an even closer look…

Grand Canyon Nutters 2

Are these people mad?

So, I’m not sure who wins this one. Is the winner the one responsible for the most deaths or is it the safest sightseeing attraction?

Winner: You decide

Awesomeness

When you first set eyes on the Grand Canyon, your jaw drops. It is, undoubtedly, awesome. It would be awesome, it is apparently 18 miles wide and 277 miles long using US measurements. For us, that’s 29 by 446 kilometres.

Whilst it is its size that gives it its awesomeness, it also means you only get to see it from the same or similar angle unless you’re prepared to spend a long long time circumnavigating it.

Uluru is different, you first see it from a distance, quite a distance. Then as you get closer and closer, it gets bigger and bigger, and slowly it begins to become awesome.

You can walk round Uluru, there is a track, it’s only about 10 kilometres all told. You get to see Uluru from every angle and the more you see the more mesmerised you become.

I took about 30 pictures of the Grand Canyon and I was done. I took more than 70 of Uluru and also shot about 45 minutes or more of video. I took some time to edit and create a movie of that footage and add a little background music, for personal use.

Every now and then I watch it.

For quite some time after visiting Uluru, I couldn’t stop thinking about the place. There is no denying it’s mystical and spiritual.

After spending three or four hours around the Grand Canyon, we jumped back into the car and said “wow, that was a big hole” and headed off. Then we started wondering what we were going to eat for dinner.

Winner: Uluru

The seven natural wonders of the world

  • The Grand Canyon = Is
  • Uluru = Isn’t

Winner: The Grand Canyon

Entry fees

  • The Grand Canyon costs $30 USD (equivalent to $45 AUD at current rates) per car, so as many as 5 people, who can stay for up to 7 days.
  • Uluru is free for the under 16’s, otherwise it’s $25 per person for up to 3 days.

So, unless you are going on your own…

Winner: The Grand Canyon

Conclusion

See both, if you get the chance, but don’t climb up or down.

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Virginia G September 18, 2015, 2:09 pm | Link

    Hi Bob,

    Fun post! I got curious about one thing I didn’t see mentioned: the number of visitors to each site. The quickest of quick searches led me to 400,000 visitors per year to Uluru and 5,000,000 per year to the Grand Canyon. I was pretty surprised by the high number for a country with so few citizens and an attraction so far out-of-the-way. Anyway, a ratio of 12.5 to 1 makes the 20 to 1 death ratio not sound quite as bad, especially since wikipedia implied that the visitors to Uluru have increased greatly since the site was made a UNESCO world heritage site. So my personal feeling is that the death thing is somewhat of a draw.

    I did take a helicopter for a short tour to the canyon three years ago, and it was pretty spectacular both from the air and from the inside. I imagine there would be a lot more to see if it were more than a 1/2 day tour leaving from Las Vegas!

    • BobinOz September 18, 2015, 6:30 pm | Link

      I did hear that figure mentioned while I was there, the 5 million a year to the Grand Canyon. I wasn’t sure what it was to Uluru though, but I’m sure your figure is absolutely correct.

      But yes, that does make the number of deaths statistics closer than it seems, thanks for pointing out. I’m still not climbing up or down either of them though 🙂

      I would have loved to have taken a helicopter trip, particularly one that lands on the bottom and that allows you to walk around for a bit. I looked into it though, you can only get those from the west side, as you say, Las Vegas. From the South Rim the helicopters are not allowed to land, in fact they can only hover above the rim.

      As I could stand above the rim without the aid of a helicopter, seemed little point.

  • Ernie From AZ September 15, 2015, 11:44 pm | Link

    Being from Arizona, I’ve visited the Grand Canyon many times. I’ve also been to Uluru, and I have to say this is a very odd comparison, Bob. I realise it’s all in good fun, so it’s ok. 😉

    Most people who go to the Grand Canyon come back with stories such as yours. They go to the rim, stay for a few hours and then head off. Leaving they say, “That was a big hole in the ground. Now what?”

    Ironically, what makes the Canyon so amazing is what you said it isn’t, its remoteness. Sure, the rim has easily accessible towns and cities, but venture down to the bottom and you can be days away from anything, or anyone. Add in the incredible views (even better than at the top), and you will discover why it’s one of the natural wonders.

    The Grand Canyon is like a big, long book. It takes time and effort to get into it, but it can be the best experience if you do. Next time you go, hike down to Havasupai. You will experience true awesomeness . . .

    https://youtu.be/6f3ZQmd1ucQ

    • Ernie From AZ September 16, 2015, 12:03 am | Link

      Having said that, Uluru is an amazing place in its own right. What got me was it is such stark contrast to the rest of the landscape around it. It’s a big, giant iceberg of stone floating in a sea of sand. Such a contrast, it doesn’t seem like it should be there, but it is.

      We moved to Australia a year and a half ago, and seeing your pictures actually made me a little homesick. Thanks a lot, Bob! (just kidding). We love our life here, and Oz has so many amazing things. I just feel lucky that the two places I’ve ever lived in my life are so incredible.

      • BobinOz September 16, 2015, 11:47 pm | Link

        Great video link from your first comment Ernie, I watched it all, realised I have made a bit of a fool of myself. No worries, is not the first time and probably won’t be the last 🙂

        What I mean is, I’ve described these two massive attractions from the point of view of a ‘don’t climb up or down’ it kind of guy. You see, I have real balance problems, most people can stand on one leg with their eyes closed for 15 or 20 seconds, I can’t stand on one leg with my eyes open for more than about three seconds.

        My idea of getting close to the edge of anything is being about 2 metres away, anything shorter than that means that when I fall over part of me is over the edge, not interested in that. When I see other people standing so close to the edge, as in my photographs and your video, I am bewildered.

        It doesn’t compute for me.

        What you have said and what the video clearly shows is that, actually, the Grand Canyon has far more to offer if you hike down it than Uluru has to offer if you climb up it. I was speaking to a guy on the rim when I was there, he tells me there are tribes living down in the canyon, is that so?

        As far as I’m aware, there are no tribes living on top of Uluru.

        For sure, you are right, for those who hike down into the Grand Canyon, they will experience absolute remoteness. From someone who just wants to peek over the edge, like me, it’s just not as remote as Uluru.

        I have no plans to hike down the Grand Canyon, but if ever they install an escalator and open a Walmart at the bottom, I’ll pop down and have a looksy. 🙂

        uluru is amazing and totally different, I think the only real takeout from my article is that prices of stuff at the Grand Canyon were really reasonable, Uluru was a rip-off, you pay through the nose for food and drink.

        Cheers Ernie, Bob

        • Ernie From AZ September 17, 2015, 9:20 am | Link

          Hi Bob,

          Havasupai is where that tribe lives at the bottom! 🙂

          It is a 15km hike to the bottom where Supai Village is. It is only accessible by foot or animal (or helicopter). All their supplies coming in (and rubbish going out) is by mule train. They have schools, a hotel, restaurants, general stores . . . everything! There are no cars, so everyone gets around by horse. I will never forget the first time coming into the main town square and seeing a speed limit sign that said, “No Galloping”.

          Past Supai Village are all the waterfalls (5 sets). You camp between the two major ones, Havasu and Mooney Falls. The falls all the way to the camp ground are easy to get to. However, to get to the bottom of Mooney Falls you have to traverse a 300ft sheer cliff. The trail takes you through 2 tunnels, down chain ropes, and a huge wooden ladder.

          I understand what you are saying about balance. One of the hard things about going to places like this is accessibility so that anyone can go. To get to Supai you can actually take the mule train. Or . . . you can take the helicopter (the only vehicle that actually will take you to the bottom). 🙂

          Thanks for the post! I really enjoy reading all your blog posts and look forward to more!

          Cheers, Ernie

          • BobinOz September 17, 2015, 5:14 pm | Link

            Ha ha ha, that’s great, “No Galloping”. Priceless.

            I am absolutely amazed, I imagined a dozen or so native Indians living off the land, cooking the odd field mouse or maybe even a coyote if they’re lucky, eating from the bush and getting water from the Colorado River.

            Restaurants, general stores, a hotel and schools? As you say, to really experience the Grand Canyon you do have to venture down to the bottom, and if I ever do that, it will be helicopter for me 🙂

            Cheers, Bob

      • Alex September 17, 2015, 8:34 pm | Link

        Hi Ernie, what kind of visa do you have for Australia? We are in preparation for this journey so it’s quite interesting for me.

        Cheers, Alex

        • Ernie From AZ September 17, 2015, 11:26 pm | Link

          Hi Alex,

          I got the 189 skilled migrant visa. It is a permanent resident visa that allows the whole family to stay without a job sponsorship. If your job is on the skilled occupation list, and you have enough points, it is definitely the way to go.

          We’ve been here a year and a half now and look forward to gaining citizenship in a few more years.

          Good luck!

          • Alex September 17, 2015, 11:34 pm | Link

            Hi Erni,
            thanks a lot for your quick response. OK, i’m heading for skilled independent too (software developer). Started the whole process in 2012, already did the IELTS and the skill assessment. But in 2013 we won the DV-lottery so we started our way to the US. Unfortunately our case number was way too high so we didn’t get the embassy interview appointment until the end of the fiscal year. That’s life … so now we start the aussie thing again 🙂

            All the best for you too.
            Thanks and cheers, Alex

  • djmcbell September 15, 2015, 5:29 pm | Link

    I remember visiting the Grand Canyon with my parents as a kid and enjoying it – it is a very good place to visit. Next time I go (if I go again) I want to do the glass floor observation deck. The only problem with that is that the people who run it sound like they have a pretty tyrannical monopoly on letting people get there (I think you have to take their bus, and it’s a bit of a distance from anything).

    Looking forward to hopefully doing Uluru though.

    • BobinOz September 15, 2015, 8:50 pm | Link

      I just googled it, looks pretty cool, but it’s over on the west side, we were at the South Rim. Buses where we were were pretty good though and free.

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