Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!

July 2019 – While visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this year, we made it a point to visit a few overlooks that aren’t easily reached by car. Saddle Mountain Overlook on the northeast side of the North Rim Visitors Center was lovely, but Point Sublime Overlook west of the Visitors Center was calling us. With a name like that, we just had to go see it!

Pt. Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

Point Sublime – It wasn’t so easy to get there, but what a feeling when we finally did!

There are two ways to get to Point Sublime, and both involve an 18+ mile long adventure on a rugged dirt road.

One day we started out on the more southerly of the two roads which is accessed from the Widforss turn-off of Highway 67 inside Grand Canyon National Park. But we forgot to bring our map and we weren’t really prepared.

We met a passenger car about a half mile down the road and asked them if we were going the right way. “You are, but it’s a four hour drive to get there,” the woman said. “And it’s a miserable drive.”

“Even in this?” We asked pointing at our RZR.

“Even in that!”

We sure didn’t want to embark on a four hour drive just then, especially without having studied the map a bit and brought it with us too! So, we decided to go to Saddle Mountain that day instead which we wrote about here.

Polaris RZR ride in the ponderosa pine forest-min

Our little Polaris RZR 900 has made it possible for us to get to some wonderfully remote places!

The more northerly route to Point Sublime goes through the Kaibab National Forest and is the route the Forest Service and Park Service rangers drive their trucks on when they have to get out to the Point Sublime area.

It is known to be very washboardy, but at least it isn’t super rutted or have any crazy steep sections. However, it starts with Forest Service Road 22 next to Demotte Campground, and we’d driven that road a little bit already and it was incredibly dusty.

The more southerly route is known to be a wild ride in any kind of four wheel drive vehicle. It has sections that are full of huge holes and steep grades, and it’s very narrow in places. It goes through the woods and isn’t especially dusty or washboardy, but it does a good job of shaking you up even so.

After mulling it over, we decided to give the more southerly route a second try despite its fearsome reputation. Why not have a true RZR adventure? So far, our trips on the RZR had been on pretty easy to drive dirt roads and two track trails.

At first the road went through a lovely wide open meadow, ideal for our energetic pup Buddy to run ahead of us and get some of his wiggles out before we got to the tough stuff.

On the road to Pt. Sublime with a RZR and a puppy-min

Buddy loves to hop out of the RZR and run ahead of us at top speed.

Pup runs ahead of the RZR on the road to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon-min

Zoom zoom.

The 18 mile drive took us about 90 minutes all together in our RZR, going from the paved state Highway 67 out to the Point Sublime overlook. The only other people or vehicles we saw on the entire trip out there was a single guy on a dirt bike. He waved as he rode past us. For the whole rest of the trip we had the woods to ourselves.

Dirt bike heading to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The only other person or vehicle we saw on our trip out was a guy on a dirt bike.

The two track deeply rutted road wound its way through the ponderosa pine forest. In many places the forest floor was carpeted with a beautiful tapestry of purple lupine wildflowers and lush green grass. We stopped several times to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of the forest and its spring flowers.

Polaris RZR ride to Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Half the fun of our RZR rides is getting out of it to explore on foot.

Lupine blooming at foot of scorched ponderosa pine trees-min

Beautiful waves of lupine were blooming between the trees

Ponderosa pine and lupine in the National Forest-min

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Buddy loved sniffing all the earthy smells around him. At one point he climbed up on a log and did a little tightrope walk along it.

Puppy tightrope walks on a log in the ponderosa pine forest-min

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We had such fun taking pics.

Photographing model puppy in lupine wildflowers in ponderosa pine forest-min

Buddy poses in the flowers for Mark.

Beautiful dog in lupine wildflowers-min

Nice shot!

About five miles into the drive the road became extremely rough. We averaged 4-5 mph for quite some time as we navigated the deeply eroded ruts in the road.

At times the little RZR tipped wildly off camber, but it never seemed like it would tip all the way over (thankfully!). Side-by-sides are like miniature tanks. Mark put it in four wheel drive and it was able to grind up or down just about anything.

Eventually the road smoothed out a little bit and then the trees parted on our left side, revealing our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon stretching into the distance.

Limestone cliffs near Point Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona North Rim-min

Limestone cliffs on the outer fringes of the Grand Canyon

Exploring Grand Canyon overlooks near Point Sublime-min

We had a blast climbing around on the rocks (not too close to the edge, though!)

Grand Canyon overlook near Point Sublime-min

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Huge craggy boulders begged to be climbed, and rugged rocky outcroppings jutted out into the view. We wandered through the woods and along the edge of the overlook for a long time, thrilled by the extraordinary vistas and the utter solitude and peace we felt in this far remote corner of the earth.

Grand Canyon view just before Pt. Sublime at North Rim-min

The views were so immense!

Overlook near Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

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This warm up spot for the “real thing” at Point Sublime was a good place for a snack and a little drink.

Water break on the road to Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Water break!

We climbed back into the RZR and followed the two track road a few miles further. We knew the Grand Canyon was just over our left shoulders, but the woods were thick and the road wandered away from the edge, so we waited patiently as the buggy rolled along until suddenly we were driving out onto a huge peninsula.

To our right, as we drove out on the peninsula, the late morning sun lit up the multiple layers and many rich shades of Grand Canyon’s red rock cliffs. Wow!

Brilliant red rock cliffs at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon-min

Our first view at Point Sublime. Just gorgeous!

Colorful red rock cliffs Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Red and orange of every hue.

Spectacular red rock cliffs at Grand Canyon Point Sublime-min

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After not seeing a soul besides the one dirt bike rider at the beginning of our journey, it was a surprise to find a big pickup truck parked at the end of the Point Sublime overlook.

I asked the fellow standing next to it if he’d come the way we had, the southern route through the National Park, and he said no. He’d come through the National Forest on the northern route and he said it wasn’t too bad. This was good to know since we now realized we’d never consider taking our dually pickup (or any other car or truck) on the road we had just traveled!

The Point Sublime peninsula jutted so far out into the Grand Canyon that it gave us 270 degree views. We wandered along the edge utterly enchanted by the way the views changed from one side of the peninsula to the other because of the way they were lit by the sun.

Stunning view at Point Sublime on North Rim of Grand Canyon-min

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First glimpse at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

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Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The views and lighting were different in every direction

Grand Canyon Pt. Sublime view at North Rim-min

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Point Sublime has a few rock outcroppings that hang out over the view and we took turns peering over the edge. Such majesty!!

Puppy checks out Point Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy takes it all in.

The remoteness and the vastness were overwhelming, especially after such a long drive through the woods to get there.

Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

What a view!

Photographer at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Mark takes it all in.

Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona extraordinary view-min

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Far in the distance we could see the Colorado River. There were some whitewater rapids out there, and undoubtedly there were river rafters riding down the narrow ribbon of water and gazing up at the sheer cliff walls, admiring the Grand Canyon from a totally different perspective!

Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River at Point Sublime Overlook-min

The Colorado River was faintly visible far in the distance.

View of Rapids on Colorado River at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

There were probably rafters down there blasting through the white water rapids!

As we started back from Point Sublime in the RZR, we met a couple coming towards us in a pickup truck. They had just finished the most hair rising part of that more southerly route we’d taken.

The guy leaned out the driver’s window and we started to ask him how the ride had been. But we’d barely gotten a few words out when he blurted out in total exaspiration, “What’s the fastest way to get to a paved road?”

His wife was in the passenger’s seat, and she was white as a ghost. “It was horrible!” She said staring straight ahead out the windshield, eyes like saucers. “Just awful! The worst drive you can imagine.”

Tree and shadow Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

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Unfortunately for them, the nearest paved road was at least an hour and a half away. But the Point Sublime overlook was just a few miles further on and the last bit of road to get there wasn’t that bad.

Best of all, they’d be able to confer with the guy in the other pickup at the overlook who could give them directions for the washboarded but slightly easier route through the National Forest back to the highway.

Fifth wheel RV camping at sunset-min

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If you have the chance and a rugged four wheel drive vehicle and a taste for adventure, give the trip to Point Sublime a try. It is well worth it.

But if you don’t have a way to get out there, the other North Rim overlooks that are accessible via paved roads are just as wondrous and every bit as breathtaking.

Sometimes it’s about the journey, but a lot of times it’s really about the destination, and the Grand Canyon is glorious from every angle!

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    14 thoughts on “Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!

    1. Great article and pictures. Buddy is quite the model! We visited the North Rim a few years ago and loved it. We were amazed at how uncrowded it was compared to the South Rim. We boondocked the whole time we were there. Thanks for sharing!

      • You’re welcome, Liz! The North Rim has retained its unspoiled charm, no doubt due to its remoteness. We have been amazed with every visit just how uncrowded and intimate it is. It is the only National Park we have been to where the majority of voices are speaking American accented English. It is really heartwarming to see American families on vacation enjoying this beautiful place and each other’s company during summer break. Buddy is a little ham bone and is such a joy to have with us — the Most Photographed Dog for sure!

    2. Hi Mark and Emily, Funny thing. Just last night I was watching the Ken Burn’s documentary on the National Parks. The section I was viewing was about how the Grand Canyon became a National Park. When they described how much of the canyon was preserved, I thought to myself that there must be some great views that are not easily accessed. And then this morning you took me to one of those views. It sounds like that little RZR is worth its weight in gold if it gets you to places like this. How did Buddy handle the overlooks? I didn’t see him out there with Mark on the ledge.

      • What a fabulous coincidence, Duane!! I’ve heard Ken Burns did a wonderful job with the documentary but haven’t seen it yet. How cool that we got you out to Point Sublime just after you watched the documentary! The Grand Canyon is 250 miles long, so there are overlooks galore and very very few roads leading to them. The National Park gets visitors to some exquisite spots, both above and below the rim on both sides, and you can lean on a sturdy railing with lots of others or creep out on all fours on your own or walk down a ways into the Canyon or hike from one rim to the other or have lunch with a view on the historic patio or dining room at the North Rim. But the Colorado is a long and winding river and it takes days to float through the Canyon in in a raft, so one can only imagine all the places high above where the views would be magnificent and unique. The Indians have built a plexiglass overlook on their reservation that you can walk out on, suspending you above the Canyon, and there’s gorgeous Havasupai Falls at the bottom of the Canyon that Mark has hiked to but is still on my bucket list. The ways to enjoy and marvel at the Grand Canyon are limitless, and a fun little RZR buggy sure is one neat way to explore!

        Buddy did great on the overlooks. He’s cautious when it comes to huge heights like that, and his interest is always less in the view and more in the critters who live in the bushes away from the rim!

    3. Emily,
      Wonderful scenery. Looks like you didn’t have much cloud cover. Suspect the rock formations would have looked very different under other lighting conditions. Looks like that RZR is worth its weight in gold in such places.
      Bob

      • As you know, Bob, the best times to be there for photography would be near dawn and dusk, no doubt. But for a daytrip that’s a tall order!! The RZR has been a fabulous addition to our travels, whether we take it out for a short spin near our campsite or embark on a longer journey like this one. What a great life!!

    4. Great trip! How did you get back to your rig? Did you take the same route out? If not how did the northern route compare to the southern route?

      Thanks,
      Bill

    5. Just WOW! That’s my kind of adventure! I WILL do this trip one day.
      We are still loving every post and all the pictures. Keep them coming…your “fans” are counting on you guys! We are
      living vicariously through your “Roads Less Traveled”.

      Jeff J

      • It’s great to have you along for the ride, Jeff! Thank you again for your generosity! You and Rhonda, Sassy and Sweetie would love this adventure. It’s a very special spot. I think a wonderful strategy would be to get an overnight camping permit and enjoy both the sunset and the sunrise. Next time we’re going to pack a tent and a cooler and catch the colors at dusk and dawn!!

    6. The best of the best…winning photographs all the way – WHAT AN ADVENTURE !!!!! The RZR has certainly proven itself !!!!

      • We are loving the little RZR. In fact, we just got back from a fun 20 mile ride in the woods through a canyon a few minutes ago! We didn’t end up on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but it was very pretty even so.

    7. Mark & Emily,

      Buddy and Nukka had a blast at Lake Pleasant playing with each other in late February if you remember? Nukka is still a puppy but 7 months old and 50 pounds now.

      Just read you post on Point Sublime. That’s one of my favorite places on the North Rim. In November of 2013 we had to travel nearly 100 yards of water in the spot with that first picture of Buddy.

      We are in the Upper Peninsula now working our way East. Maybe Nova Scotia if Deb gets her way.

      Safe travels,

      Mike & Deb

      • Hi Mike & Deb – We remember you and Nukka well, and I’m sure Buddy does too. 50 lbs is a lot of pup — OMG! — but I’m sure he’s as sweet and playful as can be.

        Point Sublime is really beautiful, and I’m amazed you were able to get out there in November without dodging snowbanks. How crazy that there was 100 yards of water in that one spot. I wonder if it turned to ice overnight!

        Enjoy the U.P. — What a great place to be in the heat of the summer! — and have fun in Nova Scotia if Deb gets her way!! Thanks for dropping us a line!

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