10/28/2014 – Grand Canyon – North Rim

The trip from Kanab, Utah to the campground on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim was easy and uneventful although we were in 2nd and 3rd gear much of the time.  After looking at the map and realizing that gas may be a little hard to come by between Kanab and whatever city is south of the canyon’s south rim, I decided to put another 9 gallons in the auxiliary tank, bringing it up to 15 gallons or a theoretical cruising range of 225 miles.  That, coupled with the 200 miles or so we can get out of the main tank should get us to the next gas station even if it doesn’t show up until Williams, AZ.  Could have filled the auxiliary tank all the way (30 gallons) but I figured Flipper would appreciate not hauling an extra 90+ pounds of fuel up to the North Rim’s 8800 foot altitude.

After seeing so many photos of the Grand Canyon all these years, both of us had a warped idea of what the country around it would be like.  We both pictured miles and miles of flat desert and, to some extent, that turned out to be true for the south rim.  But not the north.  After turning off the highway at Jacob’s Lake, we passed through miles of huge meadows surrounded by Ponderosa Pine forests.  It was really pretty but not at all what we expected.  The road from Jacob’s Lake to the National Park campground is around 40 miles.  One way, not a loop.  Maybe this helps account for the light use the north rim sees compared to the south.  I read later that the north rim only gets around 10% of the visitors that the south rim sees each year.  The north side is just a little bit less convenient to get to.

We lucked out with our timing.  The campground was scheduled to close on November 1 and the road would close on November 15.  While we were still in Kanab, with a good internet connection, I made reservations at both the north and south rim campgrounds.  Turns out it wouldn’t have been necessary for the north rim as the campgrounds were far from full.  However, after our experience at Zion, we figured it was better to be safe than sorry.

We arrived at the entry station at about noon or just a little later.  The ranger on duty seemed very pleased that we’d made a reservation (for some reason – maybe she was just being friendly) and said they’d been waiting for us.  Really?  We pulled into the site I’d selected on-line, right across the road from the bathrooms.  The loop we were on was completely deserted except for us but, unfortunately, the bathroom was closed down for winter.  That meant a short walk to the next one that was open.  No biggie during the day but, if we had to use it at night it’d seem a lot further away.  I rode my bike back up to the ranger station and asked to switch to another site.  No problem at all.  With the dearth of campers right now, we managed to get another site right across the road from an open bathroom, and still didn’t have any close neighbors.

All set up and leveled, we saddled up our bikes and rode the only bike-friendly trail to the canyon’s rim.  We were pretty amazed.  It looked just like the pictures, only bigger.


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The lodge was closed for winter and all boarded up, but you can see a little of it in the next photo:

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We took a hike around some of the view points and lookouts accessible by foot from the campground.

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The next day we did the driving tour of the south rim.  This took us first to Cape Royal, another spectacular lookout on the eastern end of the canyon.  We stopped at several lookouts and viewpoints along the way as well.  After Cape Royal we went to Imperial Point, the highest point on the rim of the canyon at 8843′ (if I remember right).

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You cans see the Colorado River through the arch in the next shot:

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The north rim is the place to go if you don’t want crowds mixed in with your tour of the Grand Canyon.  Other than the Lodge, there are no vendors to speak of.  You can even rent a little log cabin if you want.  From what I’ve read, heard, and experienced, it’s just a quieter, more mellow side of the canyon to visit.  And the scenery is spectacular, as expected.  Just remember that they shut down for winter.  It’s not unheard of to get 22′ of snow on the north rim while the south rim is enjoying 3-4′.  If I were 25-30 again, I’d definitely make hiking down the north side, crossing the Colorado River, and hiking back up the south side a “must-do”.  It’s recommended as a 3-day trip.

The north rim has as many hiking trails as you’d want, one biking trail, driving tours, and plenty of photo-ops.  However, after 2 days we felt like we’d pretty much done it justice other than a hike below the rim.  We were ready to move on.


Kanab, Utah to Grand Canyon NP North Rim campground: 85 miles

Total to-date: 4,206 miles


About sryoder

Steve & Lulu... retired. Had enough of the cold wet dreary fall/winter/spring in the Pacific Northwest. Bought a boat, fixed it up, sold our home and sailed to Mexico in November, 2010. Been here ever since except for occasional forays to the States (summer only, thank you) to visit the kids, parents and siblings. If you're looking for a sailing blog, this is the wrong place. This is a traveling, hunkering in, eating blog. Sailing is just how we get from place to place when we can't walk.
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4 Responses to 10/28/2014 – Grand Canyon – North Rim

  1. Joan/Raymond Yoder says:

    Wow, spectactular pictures. Felt like I was there. Probably will never be now but would of liked to have seen all of it. Why we never did I don’t know. Like living just a few miles from the Spruce Goose and never seeing it.

  2. Samantha says:

    I love the N. rim for the very reasons you mentioned, Steve. I went one year at the end of September and the lodge was open. Very cool and built way back in the ‘30s I believe. Windows of the dining room just went straight down a LONG way. Dennis and I went for his birthday one year, we rented one of the cabins and it was really cool. I had bought him one of those helium balloons that says something like, “Birthday Boy” or some dumb thing and it was in the back seat of the rental car while we drove very gently up elevation. We were smokin’ a dubie when at the same time that we passed a state patrol the balloon popped and we almost died of fright. It was something to really laugh about after our hearts calmed down a bit. We spent 2 nights there and went on a mule ride 1/2 way down the canyon. The very narrow switchback trail and the horses long necks made their heads appear to go way out into the abyss, luckily their feet were steady and turned at the right time, a little disconcerting though. As we were riding down, hikers would approach and pass on their way up, I was pretty glad that the horse was under me. Thanks for the photos and reminding me that I want to get back to the Grand Canyon, it is amazing and the North Rim is the place to visit.

    Samantha Bryner Managing Broker Windermere San Juan Island PO Box 488, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 (360)378-3600 X 240 (360)378-8184 Cell (360)378-5916 Fax (800)262-3596 Samantha@realestatesanjuans.com http://www.realestatesanjuans.com

  3. MarjFries says:

    Love traveling along with you guys!

    • sryoder says:

      Hiya Marj,

      It’s good to know you’re out there with us. We’re finally back to some warm weather. We’ll be hanging out in Arizona for a few days waiting for a part for Flipper.

      Hope all is well with you and Dave.

      Love, Lulu

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