Grand Canyon

How the Grand Canyon Changed a Life

There’s no doubt that the view from the top of the Grand Canyon is stunning. But venturing below the rim is the experience of a lifetime. Here’s one woman’s inspiring story.

The first time Lisa Abelar visited the Grand Canyon she was a bored teenager on a family vacation from her native Michigan. In the way that only teens can be when confronted with a genuine wonder of the world, young Lisa was less than impressed.

Jump to 2017. An adult now and living in Gilbert, Arizona, Lisa found herself fleeing an abusive marriage, struggling daily to keep her head above water and her kids safe. She describes this time in her life as one of complete chaos and overwhelming noise. A barrage of threatening messages from her ex. A rock through her living room window. Sleepless nights. She felt there was no escape.

Though she'd never returned to the Grand Canyon in the years since her first visit—much less strapped on hiking boots or pitched a tent—to her own surprise, she agreed at the last minute to join a guide-led camping trip into the Grand Canyon. She wasn't seeking spirituality. She wasn't looking for a savior. She sought only quiet.

What transpired during that April weekend in the Canyon changed Lisa's life forever. Watch her story above.

About Lisa Abelar

Lisa Abelar is an Arizona writer, editor and storyteller. She’s also the founder of For Your Record, a nonprofit group that provides financial assistance to cover the costs of court fees and public records requests for survivors of domestic violence and other crimes. Lisa and her husband and photographer Ron Abelar live in Gilbert, Arizona, where they are raising five children.

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Jessica Dunham

Jessica Dunham is a travel, food and fitness writer whose work has been published in PHOENIX Magazine, Runner's World, Phoenix New Times, Valley Guide, Phoenix Travel Guide, Modern Luxury Scottsdale and more. She is passionate about all things Arizona, especially spontaneous Saturday daytrips around the state. She can be reached at