Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Its Better Half?

All American Road Route 67 Jacobs Lake AZ to North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona seen from our RV

The road to the North Rim winds through meadows.

All American Road Route 67 Jacobs Lake AZ to North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona monsoon season from our RV

Monsoon season was just starting.

Boondocking in our RV, Kaibab National Forest near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon AZ

A little piece of heaven camping in the Kaibab

National Forest.

Western Tanager in the Kaibab National Forest

Western Tanager

Vista Encantada lookout North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Vista Encantada

Angel's Window lookout North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Angel's Window

Cape Royal lookout North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Cape Royal

Cliff Rose in bloom at the North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Cliff Rose

Cape Royal lookout North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Cape Royal

Cape Royal

Walhalla Lookout North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Walhalla Lookout

North Rim Lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

The North Rim Lodge has

exceptional views.

Sofa Room at the North Rim Lodge Grand Canyon AZ

Sofa Room at the Lodge

North Rim Lodge Dining Room Grand Canyon AZ

Lodge Dining Room

Sun Porch at the North Rim Lodge Grand Canyon AZ

Sun Porch at the Lodge

Bright Angel Point Trail North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Bright Angel Point trail

Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

Bright Angel Point

Bright Angel Point North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Bright Angel Point

Hiking in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Hiking in the Kaibab forest

Lupines blooming in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ

We came across a clearing overflowing with lupines.

Lupines blooming in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ Lupines blooming in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ make great photos Aspens clustered in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon, AZ

The aspens cluster together.

Black butterfly in the Kaibab National Forest North Rim Grand Canyon AZ Point imperial Lookout North Rim Grand Canyon, Arizona

Point imperial Lookout

Imperial Point North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

Imperial Point

Hiking Ken Patrick Trail from Point Imperial North Rim Grand Canyon AZ

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

graceful beauty.

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 camped 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.

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

the eyes.

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,

absorbing the

experience.  There is

a lot to see in the

Kaibab National

Forest as well, and

we did a lot of cycling

and hiking, checking out

the maze of dirt roads in

the area.

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

in Utah.