June 2019 – Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s crown jewels, and the magnificent North Rim is, in many ways, the sparkling diamond in the crown.
We’ve been to the North Rim several times, and each time we have been enchanted by the 45 mile long scenic drive that goes from the main highway intersection at Jacob Lake down to the tiny community at the North Rim.
This winding road passes through forests and meadows, and the shifting light on the aspens and ponderosa pine trees is beautiful
There are bison in the park now, and we heard from another camper that a fellow recently encountered 200 of the beasts crossing the highway as he drove to the North Rim!
There is a wonderful little dry camping campground about 7 miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park nestled into the woods in Kaibab National Forest called Demotte Campground. We swung through the campground loop for old time’s sake, fondly remembering tent camping there many moons ago.
Once we got into Grand Canyon National Park and on to the North Rim, we were like kids on Christmas morning. As soon as we got the truck parked in the small parking lot at the Rim, we dashed to the edge of the parking lot to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.
It doesn’t matter how many times we see the beautiful shapes and contours of this magical land, it takes our breath away every time.
We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!
The more popular and more populated South Rim of the Grand Canyon is relatively dog friendly, allowing pooches on leashes to stroll with their owners on the paved paths along the top of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim, however, is not as dog friendly. Buddy could take a peek at the view from the main yard by the Grand Canyon Lodge, but that was it.
So, it was back to the truck in the parking lot for him for a little while so we could take the half mile walk out to Bright Angel Point.
The parking lot is well shaded by towering ponderosa pine trees, and lots of other pups were waiting patiently for their owners to snap some pics and return to their cars. A cacophany of barks greeted Buddy as he took his place on our truck’s center console where he had a bird’s eye view of everything around him.
This parking lot is not really RV friendly, but a few had wedged themselves in. We noticed one motorhome with a fun message on the back: Living the Dream. Yes indeed!
There is a dry camping campground at the North Rim where very small RVs and tents can perch right on the edge of the canyon, and some sites have extraordinary views. But for those who don’t want to camp, the Grand Canyon Lodge is surrounded by charming stone and log cabins with tiny porches and big log rocking chairs. What a great place to spend a few days!
Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.
One of the best things about the North Rim is that it is the only major National Park that isn’t inundated with busloads of tourists. Thankfully, it is such a long drive to get there that most folks visit the much easier to reach South Rim, call it good, and leave it at that.
The visitors to the North Rim are primarily American families who are out on long summer driving vacations, and they are often hitting the fabulous cluster of National Parks in the area — Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.
Like all the National Parks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be experienced at a glance if you wish. Simply walk out to Bright Angel Point as we did.
But it can also be savored in depth with a multi-day stay in a cabin or at the campground. This allows time for the long drives that go to the other major overlooks inside the Park along with doing a few of the many hikes along the rim or through the woods or even down into the canyon and across to the South Rim (and back if you’re hardy!).
We weren’t staying at the North Rim for an in depth visit, so we slowly strolled to Bright Angel Point and back, soaking up the view, chatting with other visitors and taking a gazillion pics.
Built in 1928, the Grand Canyon Lodge is one of those gorgeous old stone and log National Park lodges that were built in the early days of the National Park system to give visitors a comfortable place to stay right in the heart of each Park.
Even though the roads were dirt and the drive was undoubtedly bumpy and dusty, there was an elegance or mystique to travel in those days that can be felt as you walk through this inviting lodge.
The Grand Canyon Lodge is really all there is at the North Rim for tourist services, so they do it all, although on a small scale. There’s a tiny post office for sending out mail, a few spots to get a bite to eat or a drink, and copious places to kick back in an old log chair and sit for a spell.
At the Roughrider Saloon, the gal pouring Mark’s beer and my latte told me this was her fourth summer working at the North Rim. Her winters are free, so she likes to travel then. What a great gig!
The Grand Canyon Lodge has huge comfy sofas in a room lined with enormous plate glass windows looking out at the Grand Canyon. Some of the sofas face the view. What a place to relax for a while.
But the spot that always captures my imagination is the outdoor stone patio deck. A long row of log chairs is lined up along a short stone wall on this deck, all facing the exquisite view. People come and go from these chairs all day long, bringing a drink or a book or a friend to chat with.
To me, this is the spirit of the old National Park system where visitors can relax at leisure and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the place, unhurried and at peace.
We had the amazingly great fortune on this trip to bump into a woman who was a 6th generation resident of nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and she told us that her grandfather had been born in a cabin at Demotte Park (where Demotte Campground now stands) and that he had designed this fabulous stone patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge.
How incredibly cool is that?!
The dining room at Grand Canyon Lodge is both intimate and awe inspiring. When we poked our heads in, the staff was eating at a back table right before opening for lunch. But this fantastic dining room would soon be full, and lots of happy visitors would be gazing out the enormous windows overlooking the Grand Canyon over lunch!
If you are traveling between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, a quickie 100 mile detour down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a really worthwhile trip. It isn’t big rig friendly or dog friendly, but the ambiance and views are out of this world.
If you have an important birthday or anniversary coming up can, leave the big rig and dog at home, and get a cabin with a porch overlooking the Grand Canyon view for a few nights. What a way to celebrate (it’s on our bucket list!!).
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More info about Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim:
- Grand Canyon National Park Official Website (both North and South Rims)
- Grand Canyon North Rim Official Info
- Grand Canyon National Park Map for the North Rim
- North Rim Area Campground Options
- North Rim Cabin Rentals and Reservations
- Location of Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona
Other blog posts from our travels to the Grand Canyon:
- Grand Canyon South Rim RV Tips + Lesser Known Overlooks!
- Grand Canyon History: A Navajo & A Mule Link Us to the Past
- Grand Canyon South Rim RV Trip – Views, Views, VIEWS!!
- Williams, Arizona – Home of the Grand Canyon Railway!
- Timp Point – A Private View of Grand Canyon’s Majesty
- Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!
- Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon!
- Grand Canyon – A Winter Wonderland with Snow!
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Magnificent & Intimate by Day or Night!
- Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Its Better Half?
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