Grand Canyon North rim

Grand Canyon North Rim

Visit our North Rim Photo Gallery 

In mid-September we decided to take some day trips from Glen Canyonto surrounding parks in The Grand Circle.  The Grand Circle is the name given to describe this area that holds the largest concentration of national parks and monuments found anywhere in the United States.  Glen Canyon is located in the center of the Grand Circle and is a great base from which to launch sightseeing excursions.  Several National Parks are within an approximate3-hour drive.  The Grand Canyon was at the top of our list.  The South Rim ofthe Grand Canyon is a 141-mile drive from Page, Arizona and the North Rim of theGrand Canyon 130 miles.  We decided to visit the North Rim having heard that it isless crowded (10% of the total Grand Canyon visitation) and that Highway 67, also known as the Kaibab Plateau Parkway would be closing after the firstsnowfall sometimes as early as October.  Visitor services are only available mid-May through mid-October.  The spectacular drive from Glen Canyon NationalRecreation Area to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon takes you through the Majestic  Vermilion Cliffs, the Marble Canyon area, and past Lees Ferry NationalRecreation Area where you can wade in the Colorado River.  The last 43 miles ofthe drive taking us to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon wound thru forests of ponderosa pine, juniper, Douglas fir, and aspen passing vast meadows.  Deer maybe easily spotted as well as wild turkey and the Kaibab squirrel, a rare speciesrecognizable by his gray body, white tail, and little tufts of fur on the eartips.  He lives only in the ponderosa pine forests of the North Kaibab Plateauand on nearby Mount Trumbull. The hot summer temperatures began to cool as weapproached the higher elevation of the North Rim.  (8,000 feet)  The naturalbeauty and splendor did not however come complete with the more solitaryexperience we had hoped for.  All of the scenic viewpoints, the short trails, aswell as the lodge and visitor center were quite busy.  We began our explorationby heading down the Bright Angel Trail, a paved .5-mile easy self-guiding walkto a viewpoint looking across the canyon.  The trail begins at the parking areaby the Grand Canyon Lodge.  Hiking opportunities range from 5-10 mile day hikesor if you have a full day you can hike below the rim on the only maintainedtrail into the canyon itself, the North Kaibab Trail.  Allow 6-8 hours for thestrenuous 9.4 mile round-trip hike to Roaring Springs at 3,000 feet below therim.  Water is available at 6,800 feet at the manmade Supai Tunnel an approximate2 mile one way hike or at Roaring Springs as well as at Cottonwood Campground. Backcountry camping is available at Cottonwood Campground located halfway downthe North Kaibab Trail or 7 miles below the North Kaibab Trailhead as well as atthe Bright Angel Campground a 2-3 day trek to the canyon’s bottom.  Reservationsare not necessary but you do need to purchase a permit.  The Grand Canyon Hikersand Backpacker’s group on Yahoo offers information on all things related to theGrand Canyon.  They welcome hikers of all abilities.   Four plateaus actually make up theNorth Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The Kaibab Plateau is the Easternmost plateau atthe North Rim.  Here lies the Grand Canyon Lodge and the major trailheads. Famed architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood who also designed lodges at BryceCanyon and Zion national parks in the late 1920’s designed the Grand CanyonLodge; it burned down in the 1930’s and was rebuilt. Today it is a NationalHistoric Landmark, an impressive structure constructed of massive limestonewalls, timbered ceilings and expansive views of the canyon. If you want to stay overnight at the Lodge (hotel rooms are actually cabins) be sure to reserve well ahead of time.  A year of advance planning is not unheard of. The nearby visitor center hosts exhibits and a bookstore.  The developed campground at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers83 campsites for varying use from tent camping to trailers or RV’s up to 35 feetin length.  No hookups are available however there is a dump station.  Again reservations should be made well in advance.  There are also driving trips offering spectacular viewpoints.  (most are on unimproved roads with highclearance vehicles recommended.)  Mule treks are available from Grand CanyonTrail Rides.  They offer half and full day trips into the canyon. We did not visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on this trip.  Although only 10 milesacross the canyon from rim to rim the drive itself would have been a 5-hour 215 mile drive from one rim to the other.  The South Rim has you looking down into the nearly one mile deep canyon rather than across it allowing a completely different perspective as you absorb the awe inspiring sight of one of theWonders of the Natural World.  The Grand Canyon.

 Visit our North Rim Photo Gallery

This entry was posted in National Parks. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *