The road to the North Rim winds through meadows.
Monsoon season was just starting.
A little piece of heaven boondocking in the Kaibab
The North Rim Lodge has
Sofa Room at the Lodge
Lodge Dining Room
Sun Porch at the Lodge
Bright Angel Point trail
Bright Angel Point
Bright Angel Point
Hiking in the Kaibab forest
We came across a clearing overflowing with lupines.
The aspens cluster together.
Point imperial Lookout
Ken Patrick Trail from Point Imperial
Grand Canyon - North Rim
June 24 - July 13, 2008 - We left Flagstaff in search of cooler weather,
and we found that and much more at the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon. The road from Jacob Lake to the North Rim is 44 miles of
After descending through dense woods, some of which were badly
burned in a wildfire in 2005, the road shakes out its curves, the tall
pines step back, and you fly along through lush meadows. These
meadows were green when we arrived in June, but by the time we left
in July there were wildflowers of all colors scattered about. The
elevation in this part of the world hovers between 8,500 and 9,000
feet, making the warm summer season very short. When we first arrived the sun was abundant and the air was warm.
By the time we left the summer monsoons were in full swing, bringing
thick, black storm clouds every afternoon. You could almost set your
clock by the 2:00 thunderstorms. We boondocked in a little forest glade
that was pure heaven. Our only neighbors were a jackrabbit and a
deer, both of which made several appearances, and a gorgeous male
western tanager who appeared near the end of our stay. Our little
clearing was lined with aspen that quivered whenever the wind blew.
Our first evening in our little paradise we watched the sun set while
listening to John Denver sing about nature. The warblers chimed in and
the aspen seemed to laugh and
dance in the orange glow of the
setting sun. It was magic.
Our first trip to the Rim itself took us
on the farthest reaching road,
passing Vista Encantada and taking
us down to Angel's Window and
Cape Royal. Vista Encantada was
bursting with wildflowers. Yellows,
oranges and even the bright pink of a prickly pear cactus flower
enhanced the rust reds of the canyon. The North Rim is not heavily
visited, and we were the only people at this lookout, gazing at the jaw-
dropping vistas while clicking away on the cameras.
Cape Royal, a massive lookout area, lies at the end of this road.
There is a charming paved walking trail through the scrub brush and
woods that leads out to Angel's Window as well as Cape Royal. We
couldn't believe that we were the only ones on the trail. Angel's
Window gives you a glimpse of the Colorado River if you peak
through, but once you climb onto the top of this arch formation you
get an unobstructed view.
As we walked we were overcome with the sweetest fragrance. A
trailside plaque told us that the Cliff Rose was responsible for this
heady aroma. We breathed deeply and walked slowly. We were
here at the perfect time of
Returning towards the
buggy, we stopped at some
of the viewpoints we had
skipped on our way out.
Walhalla Lookout is the
gathering place for a daily
ranger talk about the
ancients who lived in this
region, growing crops on a plateau 5,000 feet below at the Colorado River in the winter and moving up to the Rim in the summer.
There were some Indian ruins from 800 years ago, including a granary where they stored seeds for future planting. From where
we stood we could easily see Mt. Humphreys in the San Francisco Peaks back in Flagstaff. A 200 mile drive by car, the mountain
was just 50 miles away as the condor flies. I watched the clouds gathering over Mt. Humphreys as the afternoon monsoons began
to build, and suddenly I understood why the Indians have always viewed the mountain as sacred. From that hot, dry plateau way
down on the Colorado River, it would be only natural to believe that the mountain held a mystical power to create clouds and rain.
Those clouds and their life-giving moisture drifted over the canyon
and a light rain began to fall.
Another morning we walked the Transept Trail from the campground
to the North Rim Lodge. This dirt path hugs the rim and occasionally
peaks out at a view that grows broader and broader as you approach
The Lodge was built in 1928 and reflects the
elegance and simplicity of that earlier time. It is a
stone and timber structure with enormous windows
overlooking the stunning view. In the early days
visitors were greeted by singing staff members, and
the first view they got of the canyon was through
the immense windows that drew them across the
wide lobby floor. Those windows are equally
alluring today, and comfy leather sofas fill the
A beautiful dining room also
has towering windows that
look out at Canyon views,
and it is impossible not to
feel a tie to the past when
seated beneath these
The Lodge also has a
sunporch with open-air
seating in front of the
spectacular view. What a
place to enjoy a latte, soak in
the view, and maybe even
read the paper.
From the Lodge we wandered out on the paved Bright Angel Point
trail. This is a pretty walk that takes you to the very end of the
peninsula that the North Rim Village is built on.
We clambered up onto the towering rocks to check out the many
views. At the end you can see the widest part of the Canyon laid out
before you, stretching 21 miles to the South Rim. We were able to
make out the tower at Desert View but couldn't see the other buildings
on the South Rim. The immensity, colors and shapes were a feast for
We felt very blessed
to be able to stay in
the area for three
weeks. After each
visit to the Rim we
would spend a day or
two back at the trailer
looking at our photos,
experience. There is
a lot to see in the
Forest as well, and
we did a lot of cycling
and hiking, checking out
the maze of dirt roads in
As we stayed more and
more flowers began to bloom
and on one hike we found
ourselves in a lush bed of
lupines. There was a variety
of shapes and hues, and we
came back to this area
several times to enjoy the
rich colors. A little further
down this road we found bunches of
yellow flowers that grew in clumps, like
nature's perfect little bouquets.
Mark noticed these little black butterflies
zipping around us periodically, and one
finally stopped long enough for him to
get its picture.
We drove out to Point Imperial
and hiked a portion of the Ken
Patrick trail to the south. From
that viewpoint you can see the
Little Colorado River in the
distance. It is a sheer canyon
that looks like a crack in the flat
landscape. It almost looks like a
child took a stick and dragged it
across the sand in jagged motions,
leaving a deep trench in its wake.
Point Imperial is not hard to miss.
As we walked along the trail we saw
it shrinking in the distance behind
us. There were many wonderful old
trees and tiny yellow and red
flowers along the route. We felt so
grateful to be alive to be able
to experience these wonders.
It was hard to leave our little paradise in the
woods at the Grand Canyon, but the monsoons
turned nasty and we found ourselves in
sweatshirts and long pants for several days in a
row. We even got hailed on twice -- pea-sized
hail that piled up on the ground for an hour
before melting. We hadn't seen everything at the
North Rim, but we always leave a few discoveries
for future visits. We wanted to head a little
further north towards Kanab and Bryce Canyon