Cedar Breaks National Monument – Wild Skies & Summer Storms

July 2019 – Cedar Breaks National Monument is a stunning landscape of red rock pinnacles and hoodoos in any kind of weather, but when clouds form and rain starts to fall in the distance, it is truly breathtaking.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Summer Storms

Cedar Breaks National Monument is spectacular when summer storms sweep through

As storm clouds began to gather, we made our way out to the main overlook at Point Supreme. What a fabulous drama in the sky was unfolding! Black clouds were dumping torrential rain in the far distance, but our little spot at the overlook remained dry for the moment.

Storm clouds at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Storm clouds with rain in the distance at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Rain at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

What a spectacular sight!

Once in a while the sun peeked out from behind the storm clouds, casting shafts of light across the red rocks. Then the clouds would close ranks around the sun once again, sealing off all but a thin ray from the heavens.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah storm clouds-min

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Light shafts Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A shaft of light broke through

As we set ourselves up to take pics, a gal scurrying back towards her car laughed as she ran by. “This kind of weather is when the photographers come out and when everyone else leaves!” Sure enough, we were soon alone at the overlook as the storm clouds rushed to surround us.

Even Buddy wasn’t so sure about the wisdom of being here in this kind of weather. He took shelter in Mark’s arms and advised him of the best techniques for taking photos of the incoming storm.

Photography at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Mark sets up a shot as Buddy looks on

Wild skies Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Wild skies

Shafts of light at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Heavenly light.

Finally, the rain hit us with full force, and we bolted back to the truck. The downpour as we drove through the woods was a deluge!

Pouring rain in the woods in Utah-min

The rain came down in buckets

Even though most mornings were sunny, storm clouds returned to Cedar Breaks with punctual regularity every afternoon. It didn’t always rain, but the bright blue skies of early morning were filled with puffy clouds by noon and were buried under heavy dark clouds filled with heavy raindrops by afternoon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah clouds parting-min

The sky was slightly more tame after the deluge.

Cedar Breaks National Monument colors-min

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Visiting the overlooks at the golden hour late in the afternoon, we watched the red rocks take on a brilliant glow. The sun pierced the clouds and bathed Cedar Breaks in a rich orange light.

Golden hour storm clouds Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The colors were incredibly rich at the golden hour before sunset

Chessmen Overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

One of the “chess men” at Chessmen Overlook

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

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Red rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

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One evening, as we walked out onto Point Supreme overlook at sunset, we found a group of tourists huddled along the fence watching the show. One brave person was even standing on a fence post!

Standing at Point Supreme overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At sunset a small crowd formed along the fence — and on top of it!

We explored the other overlooks too: Sunset View, Chessmen Ridge and the North View. Each one offered a unique view of unusual shapes and colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Beautiful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

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Inner light Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

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Pink and orange Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Because the road along Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fairly busy highway, we took our truck on each visit. The Polaris RZR side-by-side wasn’t getting much use at all. One day when we called Buddy over to get in the truck, he ran over to the RZR instead and sat next to it, as if to say, “Why can’t we take the RZR this time?”

Puppy wants a Polaris RZR ride-min

Buddy wanted to take the RZR instead of the truck!

We did get out into the woods a bit wih the RZR, and Buddy was our little trail scout, as he always loves to be.

Puppy runs down a dirt road in the woods-min

He got his wish and had fun running through the woods

Cedar Breaks and the surrounding area lies at 10,000 feet elevation. That is, it lies 4,000 feet higher than the peak of famous Mt. Washington in New Hampshire!

Being so high, it is cold and is prone to all kinds of crazy weather. As I mentioned in our last post, we’d seen patches of snow in our wanderings, even during the last few days of July, right in the middle of a heatwave that had engulfed the whole country!

One day while we were out exploring we turned a corner and found a particularly enormous patch of snow.

Snow in Utah in mid-summer-min

A big patch of winter snow that’s still left at the end of July

Snow in late July in Utah-min

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Buddy loves snow, so we decided to let him play in it for a while.

Puppy plays in Utah mid-summer snow-min

A happy little puppy in a big field of snow!

Oh my, was he in heaven once he figured out what he was standing on! He went wild, running in crazy circles, throwing up snow and ice all around him as he took hairpin turns at top speed and dove into the show head first. He galloped at full speed in sheer joy.

Puppy plays in the snow-min

“Weeeeeee!!!”

Galloping through summer snow-min

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Diving into summer snow-min

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Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

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Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

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After he had gleefully burned off enough energy for all three of us, we finally told him it was time to go. He was soooo disappointed.

He stood by the edge of the snow and forlornly watched us walking away, making no move to follow. He could have happily stayed at his private summer snow park for a few hours more!

Puppy love the summer snow in Utah-min

“Do we have to go??!!”

Not far away from the patch of snow we found some beautiful wildflowers in full bloom. The bees were busy gathering pollen in the bell shaped flowers, and despite the nearby snow, the flowers reminded us that it was indeed summertime, even here in Utah’s higher elevations.

Columbine wildflower-min

Columbine

Bee in wildflower-min

Busy bee

Indian paintbrush wildflowers in the Utah woods-min

Indian Paintbrush

Most of southern Utah is in the 4,000 to 7,500 foot range of elevation and is quite warm or even blazingly hot in mid-summer. But for those who love blustery weather and snow, there’s a bit of that waiting for you atop the plateau at Cedar Breaks National Monument.

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Cedar Breaks National Monument – Glorious Amphitheater of Red Rocks!

July 2019 – After enjoying many trips to the edge of the Grand Canyon this summer, we were ready for a little different scenery, so we headed north to one of southern Utah’s most dramatic yet less visited red rock wonders, Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Cedar Breaks National Monument RV trip in Utah-min

Cedar Breaks National Monument – An Amphitheater of Red Rock Glory!

Located close to the famous National Parks at Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon but situated at of 10,000 feet, a much higher elevation than either of the other two Parks, it is a place that is forever haunted by wild weather patterns that make the extraordinary red rock vistas and dense woods even more dramatic.

As we arrived in the afternoon, the sky was wearing a forbidding grimace, and we quickly changed from the shorts we’d been wearing for the last few months into long pants and jackets!

Even more startling, we saw patches of snow in the woods as we drove. Holy smokes! It was late July and there was knee deep snow on the ground in some places!

Storm clouds over fifth wheel trailer-min

Wild storm clouds greeted us as we arrived at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is known not only for its eye popping amphitheater of red rock hoodoos but for its vibrant display of summer wildflowers. The wildflower season runs from mid-July through August, and the flowers were showing off their most brilliant colors everywhere.

Puppy in a field under storm clouds-min

Our first glimpse of the colorful wildflower display was a field of yellow flowers – under threatening clouds!

Wildflowers and storm clouds-min

How cool is this?!!

We hustled out to Point Supreme, the main Cedar Breaks overlook, as quickly as we could. Rain clouds were threatening, but what really caught my eye was the wonderful contrast of the soft green hillsides peeking over the mile high walls of red rock cliffs.

View Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At the main Cedar Breaks overlook, Point Supreme, the layers of colors were just fantastic.

Green mountain and red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Green hillsides above the red rock cliffs and hoodoos where the mountain has fallen away.

If doesn’t matter how many times we see these red rock cliffs and spires, whether here at Cedar Breaks or over at nearby Bryce Canyon, they are spectacular. The bright colors and the towering “drip castle” types of formations that look like they were made by kids at the beach are just astonishing.

And from the top of the canyon, looking down into the bowl shaped amphitheater, we always find it so hard to comprehend just how enormous the seemingly tiny pinnacles are. But a look at the tall pine trees snuggled up to the bases of the hoodoos gave us a sense of their immense size.

Red rock pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

How big are those red rock hoodoos? The tall pine trees are dwarfed by them!

Pinnacles at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Brilliant red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Fabulous layers of color and texture.

The sun was obscured by the threatening black clouds which softened the colors of the canyon and eliminated the harsh contrast of light and shadow on the ridges.

Then, suddenly, the sun came out in force for a little while, and the amphitheater was bathed in golden light.

Colorful red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The nuances of the red rock hues are easily seen when the rocks aren’t lit by the sun.

Red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Bright sunshine created dramatic contrasts.

Golden hour Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Amphitheater Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

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Like all of America’s National Parks and National Monuments, dogs are allowed on leashes but only in certain areas. Point Supreme, which lies directly behind the Visitors Center, is one of the few areas at Cedar Breaks where pups can get a look at the eye-popping view, and Buddy gave the grand vista a cursory look and sniff.

But he was much more interested in other things at Point Supreme, like watching the ground squirrels running around the base of a tree in the distance, and he quickly took up a position in the middle of the overlook with his back to the view to keep an eye on the squirrles and also act as the Official Greeter.

Puppy is the greeter-min

Buddy turned his back to the view so he could greet everyone arriving at the rim and keep an eye on the ground squirrels too!

There was only one other couple at the overlook, and they had already given Buddy a pat on the head, so they resumed admiring the breathtaking views. But Buddy sat stock still for several minutes until a family suddenly appeared on the path walking towards him.

They had a little toddler with them who was as thrilled to see a puppy as the rest of the family was thrilled to see the views for the first time. As I watched Buddy and the toddler interact, I wasn’t sure who was more fascinated by their new friend, the puppy or the baby!

Puppy makes a new friend-min

Who’s more intrigued by whom? These two played together very happily while the adults savored the views

While the toddler and her old sister played with Buddy, our focus returned to the incredible 270 degree views surrounding us. What a place this is!

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Cedar Breaks

Towers and pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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Suddenly, the sun began to play games with the clouds, and we watched in awe as light and shadow chased each other across the vast landscape and the heavens opened above us with shafts of light between the clouds.

Monsoon light Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah81-min

The weather turns on a dime at Cedar Breaks, and suddenly the heavens opened above us.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Stormy sky-min

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Mark grabbed his 12 mm fish-eye lens for a very creative shot.

Fish-eye view of Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A fish-eye view!

And then he asked me and Buddy to pose by the railing. Sure!

Happy Campers at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Two happy campers

Little family groups came and went at Point Supreme, but we stuck around for a while to watch the show.

Vivid colors Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Vivid colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Each cliff, hillside and hoodoo was unique in color and shape

Then we took a stroll down a path that was lined with beautiful wildflowers. The little bluebells were so delicate!

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The wildflowers peak at Cedar Breaks between mid-July and mid-August

Wildflowers Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The tiny bluebells start as pink buds and then open up to a pretty shade of blue

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

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And the columbine wildflowers were dancing in the slight breeze. Some of the columbine were pure white and others wore a wonderful combo of blue and white with yellow trim at the center.

Columbine wildflower at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A beautiful two-tone columbine flower

There are lots of things to see at Cedar Breaks National Monument, and we’ve written about them in the past.

The Alpine Pond Trail hike is a great place to savor the wildflowers and the Spectra Point Trail hike is an absolute Must Do if you don’t have a dog or don’t mind leaving him/her in the car. The hike takes you out on a long peninsula that juts into the red rock amphitheater, and at the end you find yourself surrounded by thousand year old bristlecone pine trees.

We didn’t do those hikes on this visit, but we marveled at the power of summer storms as huge black clouds let loose a deluge that afternoon and all the next day.

We got hail interspersed with heavy rain punctuated with ferocious growls of thunder and too-close-for-comfort bolts of lightning.

So, we bundled up and Mark baked banana bread and put turkey pot pies in the oven too to keep our rolling home warm inside.

All this was happening during a blistering heat wave all across the country that delivered the hottest week of the summer to almost every corner of our beautiful nation!

During a brief break in the tempest around us, we snuck out to the rim of Cedar Breaks at Sunset View Overlook which is at an elevation of 10,354 feet. The sun was nowhere to be found, but the rain let loose once again, and we laughed along with a handful of other tourists who ran out of their cars in raincoats, braving a downpour to take a look at the red rocks in whiteout conditions!

Cedar Breaks National Monument whiteout-min

You never know what you’ll see at the Cedar Breaks rim til you get there. Pouring rain and swarming mist is a very good possibility!

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fabulous RV destination in any kind of weather. And it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have some kind of intense weather if you visit mid-summer when the southwest monsoon season is underway. Bring shorts but pack long pants and a raincoat too because you just never know!

Puppy watches the sunset-min

Sunset at the end of a red letter day!

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Stunning Grand Canyon with a Private View at Timp Point

July 2019 – We’ve been exploring back roads leading to the lesser known edges of the Grand Canyon for the past few weeks, and we’ve seen some fabulous views at Saddle Mountain and Point Sublime. But those overlooks require a long drive in a 4×4 high clearance vehicle to reach. This week we discovered an overlook called Timp Point that offers some gorgeous private views that can be reached — with a bit of patience — in a passenger car or truck.

Timp Point Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon Arizona

We took our Polaris RZR 900 side-by-side on a fun 50 mile round trip romp on a well maintained dirt road out to Timp Point, and we just loved the views we found at the end of the road.

Polaris RZR ride through ponderosa pine forest in Arizona-min

Our little RZR took us through the beautiful ponderosa pine forest to a glorious Grand Canyon overlook

For anyone venturing on this road with a car or truck, sticking to the main roads is a good idea. They may be a washboarded and dusty, but if you go slowly they’re passable. However, since we have a zippy little buggy that can take on just about any kind of crazy terrain, we decided to skip a few miles of the graded road and take a cool shortcut on a pretty two track road.

Dirt road through the woods on the Kaibab Plateau-min (1)

“C’mon guys. Let’s go!”

We’d driven a few miles on that two track road with our pup, Buddy, running ahead of us when suddenly Buddy screached to a halt and looked back at us with a huge question mark on his face. Mark put on the brakes too when we saw a huge ponderosa pine tree had falled right across the road, blocking our way completely.

Polaris RZR ride stopped by tree trunk across trail-min

Oops — there’s a tree blocking our way!

We got out of the RZR to see if we could find our way around it, but the woods were extremely thick with all kinds of evergreens and aspen in addition to ponderosa pines. There was no way to get around this blockage. So, we did a U-turn and made our way back to the main road.

Tree trunk across trail in the woods-min

It was impossible to get around this tree.

It’s about a 25 mile drive from the paved highway, AZ-67, out to the overlook, and no matter what kind of vehicle you’re in, a comfortable average speed is less than 20 mph. But when we finally reached the overlook the views were spectacular.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point-min

It was a long dusty ride to get to the edge, but what a rewarding view greeted us!

Timp Point overlook at Grand Canyon-min

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Grand Canyon view at Timp Point-min

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View of Grand Canyon at Timp Point-min

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There was a small hiking trail that went out to the rim and followed the contour of the land for a while, giving us beautiful views of the Grand Canyon. We were surprised that at this part of the Grand Canyon, which lies northwest of the North Rim Visitors Center, many of the hillsides in front of us were covered in lush green vegetation.

Timp Point Overlook view at Grand Canyon-min

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Green hillsides at Grand Canyon-min

A blanket of vivid green

Limestone peaks at Grand Canyon overlook-min

Limestone pinnacles far below

The views were not unobstructed, however. We had to peer over bushes and between tree branches to take in the stunning landscapes. Unlike other parts of the Grand Canyon, especially within the National Park where the viewpoints are on huge treeless rock outcroppings, the tiny trail hugged a slope and it was a bit treacherous in some places to find solid footing where we could comfortably savor the views.

Polaris RZR ride through the woods to a Grand Canyon overlook-min

Mark makes his way towards the view

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

We had to scramble and balance precariously to get our photos…

Timp Point Overlook at Grand Canyon-min (1)

…but once we steadied ourselves, the views were spectacular.

The Rainbow Rim Trail is a hiking and mountain biking trail that goes from Timp Point north to several other viewpoints. Each viewpoint is reachable by a motorized trail as well, but each fork leading out to a viewpoint is several miles long, making it the kind of area that is fun to explore at leisure over the course of a few days. Trying to drive to all the viewpoints in one day would constitute a lot of slow bumpy driving on dirt roads for just a little overlook-gazing.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

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Likewise, a map of the Rainbow Rim Trail showed that it wandered away from the rim into the woods and then wandered out to a viewpoint in a zig-zag manner, flirting with the views of the Grand Canyon in between long treks through the woods.

Overlook at Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

Greenery and red rocks

Red rock cliffs Timp Point in Grand Canyon-min

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Timp Point has two overlooks that are only 6 miles apart, so we decided to visit both. At North Timp Point yellow wildflowers were in vibrant bloom everywhere.

Wildflowers at North Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

Beautiful wildflowers were in bloom at North Timp Point

Wildflowers on trail at Timp Point Grand Canyon-min

The little hiking path was lined with flowers

The wonderfully fragrant Cliff Rose was in bloom too, and even Buddy was impressed by its incredibly sweet smell.

Puppy sniffs cliff rose at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy checked out the sweet fragrance of a cliff rose flower

We slowly strolled along a narrow hiking trail around North Timp Point, taking in the beautiful views. Fewer trees and bushes had grown up along this trail, so the views were a little easier to see, and they were magnificent.

Grand Canyon overlook at Timp Point Arizona-min

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Orange and green landscapes at Grand Canyon-min

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View at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

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Beautiful overlook at Grand Canyon Timp Point-min

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Grand Canyon Overlook Arizona-min

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Patterns in Grand Canyon view-min

Intriguing patterns in the distant landscape

After enjoying a PB&J lunch break with a view, we hopped back in the RZR and made our way back through the woods. Once we got the RZR loaded back on its little caboose trailer behind our truck, we stopped at the North Rim Country Store to refill its gas tank.

This little country store is all there is for gas and groceries on the 45 mile long Highway 67 that goes between Jacob Lake and the North Rim. They carry all the essentials and have even more on their shelves than can be found at Jacob Lake. However, like the highway to the North Rim itself, it is seasonal and is open only between mid-October and mid-May.

North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

North Rim Country Store offers a whiff of civilization in a vast wonderland of nature

Way back when we first started traveling full-time and visited the North Rim, we met the couple who had just purchased this country store, and we were delighted this year to discover that their son and daughter-in-law have opened a coffee kiosk right on the property.

How awesome it was after an early morning RZR adventure in the wilds of the Kaibab Plateau to be able to sip a luxe hazlenut latte with a heart drawn in the steamed milk on top! We might have been dusty and dirty, but this little bit of yumminess was a nice taste of modern luxury!

Meadow's Edge Coffee Kiosk North Rim Country Store Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Need a fluffy coffee before or after your adventure? The new Meadow’s Edge coffee kiosk has one for you!

If you have the time after visiting the more easily accessed and mind blowing overlooks at the end of the paved roads inside Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim, and you don’t mind a long slow and occasionally bumpy drive down a dusty dirt road, Timp Point makes for a fun day trip.

Road through the Arizona woods-min

As rugged dirt roads go, the one to Timp Point isn’t too bad for a passenger car or truck.

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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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    Kanab, Utah, 4th of July – Stars & Stripes in the Red Rocks!

    July 2019 – One of the great things about traveling in the summertime is being able to enjoy the 4th of July celebrations in a special place. This year we were near the small town of Kanab, Utah, and we eagerly went into town to see the parade.

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah-min

    Uncle Sam greeted us as we came into town!

    We were staying over the border in Arizona, and we’d forgotten that in the summer months Arizona and Utah are in different time zones. Utah is always in Mountain Standard Time while Arizona floats between Mountain and Pacific Standard Time depending on the time of year because they don’t change their clocks for daylight savings.

    We’d planned to arrive about a half an hour before the parade started, and as Mark parked the truck he glanced at the clock on the dashboard and was about to say, “Perfect timing, it’s 9:30,” when he noticed our truck’s clock said 10:30.

    Oh no!

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah Parry Lodge-min

    We missed the start of the parade, but what we saw was wonderful.

    Luckily, the parade was still going on and we saw some fun things roll by. A bright red fire engine went past and then there were a bunch of RZRs all dolled up in red, white and blue. There were some other interesting contraptions too.

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah RZR group-min

    A RZR brigade in red, white and blue (hey, what are they passing to each other?!)

    4th of July parade Kanab Utah RZR group-min

    More RZRs!

    Tricycle Kanab Utah 4th of July parade-min

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    4th of July celebration in Kanab Utah-min

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    A few antique cars beeped as they passed by the historic Parry Lodge where all the Hollywood stars of the Golden Age stayed when they made hundreds of movies in the beautiful red rocks around town.

    Parry Lodge 4th of July parade-min

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    Antique car 4th of July parade Parry Lodge Kanab Utah-min

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    Antique car 4th of July parade Kanab Utah-min

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    Smokey Bear made an appearance in the back of a US Forest Service truck. And then one of the Hot Shots standing on a Forest Service fire truck gave us all a big spray.

    Kanab is an hour’s drive from any town big enough for a city-sized supermarket, but the grocery store in town, Honey’s Market, keeps everyone’s pantry full. A lady clown from Honey’s Market brought up the rear of the parade, slowly making her way down the street, chatting with friends and neighbors and giving out goodies to the kids.

    Kanab was settled in 1864 when Fort Kanab was built, and in 1870 ten Mormon families moved into the fort to establish the town. A huge mural on the side of a building depicts the arrival of a wagon train at Fort Kanab.

    Mural Wagon trains arrive at Fort Kanab_-min

    The full mural of the wagon train arriving at Fort Kanab

    There is lots of detail in this mural — the excited pioneers at the front calling out to the people at the fort, the weary travelers further back in the line, and the folks hanging out at the trading post as the wagons slowly come in.

    Mural Kanab or Bust-min

    “Kanab or Bust!” – The wagon train was greeted warmly when it arrived.

    Mural in Kanab Utah weary wagon train travelers-min

    It was a long journey, and some walked much of the way…

    Mural in Kanab Utah welcoming party at Fort Kanab-min

    Shooting the breeze at the trading post

    Back in the glory days of Hollywood, Kanab played host to visiting celebrities making movies, but today it is a tourist town. It isituated conveniently between three of America’s major National Parks: Grand Canyon (North Rim), Zion and Bryce Canyon.

    It is also close to Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Cedar Breaks, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

    Kanab Utah is near many national parks-min

    Kanab is conveniently located in between many gorgeous places.

    Over in the town park the 4th of July festivities were in full swing when we walked up. The lush green grass and the vibrant red rock backdrop were beautiful, and the mood was decidedly festive and upbeat.

    4th of July celebration Kanab Utah-min

    Kanab has a beautiful town park and the party was well underway when we got up there.

    Red, white a blue stencils of all kinds had been spray painted on the grass, and lots of people were decked out in stars and stripes.

    4th of July party in the park Kanab Utah-min

    An old windmill honors Kanab’s ranching history.

    Dressed up for 4th of July-min

    Everyone was wearing red, white a blue, and some outfits were really cute!

    Tents were set up with all kinds of beautiful arts and crafts for sale, and the food court was humming.

    4th of July party in the park Kanab Utah-min

    There were arts and crafts and food galore!

    4th of July party Kanab Utah-min

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    The most fun — and coolest — spot to be was near (or in) the water fountain. The water jets sprayed on and off in all directions, and the kids had a blast.

    Playing in the fountain 4th of July-min

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    Playing in the fountain 4th of July-min

    What a great way to cool off!

    Buddy wasn’t sure what to make of the constantly moving streams of water, but he was grateful for a drink from Mark’s helping hand.

    Puppy gets a drink-min

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    It was a wonderful and hearwarming day and a great way to celebrate the 4th of July. If your travels take you near Kanab, Utah, on Independence Day some year, stop on by. This town puts on a wonderful celebration!

    4th of July Celebration Kanab Utah-min (1)

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    Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon!

    June 2019 – The Grand Canyon is a huge, winding crater that wanders across the northen part of Arizona for about 275 miles. However, Grand Canyon National Park’s North and South Rims take up just a few miles on either side of the Colorado River in the middle of it all. For anyone up for a little adventure, there are lots of other places along its length outside the National Park where you can peer over the edge in awe.

    Saddle Mountain Overlook above the Colorado River in Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Outside of Grand Canyon National Park there are many absolutely stunning overlooks.

    This past week we took our Polaris RZR on a back country tour through the woods and the aspen trees of Kaibab National Forest to check out one of the many overlooks that are outside Grand Canyon National Park: Saddle Mountain Overlook.

    Two track road through aspen trees-min

    Our RZR ride took us through ponderosa pine forests and aspen groves.

    The two track road was fun to ride on, but the best part came at the end when we got to the overlook at Saddle Mountain. Wow!

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Colorado RIver-min

    What a wonderful view this was after riding through the woods for a few hours.

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain overlook in Arizona-min

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    Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

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    We walked along the edge and admired the amazing views. Every time I see the Grand Canyon, I marvel that a narrow ribbon of river along with some wind and rain could have carved all these extraordinary patterns in the cliffs!

    Erosion patterns Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    Beautiful patterns carved by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years

    Red rock erosion patterns Saddle Mountain Overlook at Grand Canyon Colorado River-min

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    Saddle Mountain overlook on the Colorado River at Grand Canyon-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook offers a different view of the Grand Canyon!

    We had jumped out of the RZR as soon as we saw the views, and savored every one. After we’d gotten our fill of the beauty, we decided to continue down the two track road a little further to see where it led.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    Buddy ran out front for a while and then stopped to watch Mark drive the RZR down the trail.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    “Want a ride?” “Sure!”

    What a wonderful surprise it was to arrive at another overlook.

    Panorama view of Saddle Mountain Overlook at the Colorado River Arizona-min

    A little further down the trail we found another stunning view.

    Grand Canyon view from Saddle Mountain in Arizona-min

    We made our way through the brush for a closer look.

    Grand Canyon from Saddle Mountain Overlook-min

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    There was a narrow trail that led down a hill and then climbed up another, and Buddy and I just had to find out where it went. Mark stayed behind and watched us make our way out to the end of a stone peninsula. It didn’t seem so scary to us out there — there was plenty of room!

    Walking to the overlook at Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Mark hung back to take pics while Buddy and I ventured out on a rock outcropping

    I have to admit, though, that when I crept towards the very end to get a photo, Buddy wisely stayed seated behind me. I scooched out in a sitting position!

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain Overlook Arizona-min

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    The American West is full of places that have experienced huge land upheavals. The Kaibab Plateau, which surrounds the Grand Canyon, is part of the larger Colorado Plateau, and in some places it is easy to see exactly how huge expanses of land were thrust upwards, sometimes at an angle.

    Uplift of Kaibab Plateau and Colorado Plateau-min

    “The earth moved under my feet.”

    Overlook at Saddle Mountain on the Colorado River-min

    The Vermillion Cliffs are in the distance. Three “prescribed burns” of about five square miles each were burning on both the North and South Rims, making the air hazy.

    In the distance we saw the Colorado River winding towards us. It’s amazing how the land at the top is flat and featureless for miles and then a deep trench cuts across it, dug out by the river over many millennia.

    Looking down on the Colorado River from Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Lined by steep cliffs, the Colorado River disappears into the distance.

    Colorado River views from Saddle Mountain overlook at Grand Canyon-min

    The Colorado River lies at the bottom of those steep canyon walls.

    We hopped back in the RZR and were soon back in the woods. The trees were really green and the cool shade felt so good. What a fun little excursion that was!

    Happy campers in the aspen trees-min

    Mark and Buddy took a break in the cool shade.
    What a contrast to the sun baked and wind whipped red rocks of the Grand Canyon!

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    Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Breathtaking Bright Angel Point!

    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.

    Grand Canyon National Park North Rim in Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona

    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

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow-min

    The 45 mile long scenic drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim goes through some gorgeous meadows.

    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!

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow and bison sign-min

    Bison now graze in these meadows!

    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.

    04 721 Aspens and ponderosa pine Demotte Campground Grand Canyon North Rim_

    Road through Demotte Campground

    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.

    First glimpse Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    First glimpse – WOW!!

    We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim_-min

    The intimacy and friendliness of Grand Canyon’s North Rim is unlike any other major National Park

    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.

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    Dogs aren’t allowed in many places, but Buddy got a glimpse from the yard next to the Lodge.

    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!

    Living the Dream in an RV-min

    When you’re Living the Dream, the National Parks are at the top of the list!

    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!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabins-min

    The campground overlooking the Grand Canyon is hard to beat,
    but if you’re not a camper, these cabins look sooo romantic!!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabin made of log and stone-min

    A porch and room right on the rim!

    Log rocking chairs on the porch of a cabin at Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    The cabins are rustic, but in the most gracious way.

    Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail View-min

    Heading out on the half-mile paved trail to Bright Angel Point

    View of the Grand Canyon Lodge from Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Looking back towards the Grand Canyon Lodge

    Grand Canyon North Rim overlook-min

    Looking down on folks at a lower overlook

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    The vast scale is hard to comprehend. It’s like looking at a huge painting.

    Red rock cliff views Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    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.

    View from Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    What a view!

    Majestic view Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Majestic!

    Patterns in Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    I loved the zig-zag diagonal patterns.

    Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    There are lots of places to climb and scramble to see the views on the edges of this trail without anyone nearby, so even with groups of people walking on the main part of the path, it still felt intimate and personal

    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!).

    Grand Canyon framed by limestone-min

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    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.

    Curvy dead tree Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    View on Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

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    Photographing Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    It’s impossible not to take a million 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.

    Grand Canyon Lodge entrance at the North Rim in Arizona-min

    Grand Canyon Lodge evokes another era.

    In those days, tourists took a train to Cedar City, Utah, and then boarded National Park buses to go to Kanab, Utah, where they spent the night, and then they continued on to the North Rim.

    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.

    Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Lounge Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim-min

    The Roughrider Saloon has an espresso bar in the early morning and craft beers on tap later in the day.

    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.

    Log rocking chairs outside the post office and saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Dogs are allowed in the common areas and Buddy met quite a few when I went into the saloon to get a beer and a latte for us to enjoy outside in these big log chairs

    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!

    Espresso drinks and craft beer on tap at Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Inside the Roughrider Saloon. It was a cozy setting but dogs have to be outside. So, outside we went!

    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.

    View from picture windows at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Huge comfortable sofas face these enormous picture windows. What a spot to unwind!

    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.

    Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim stone patio deck-min

    Here you can kick back in a log chair in front of one of the world’s most magnificent views!

    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.

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim_-min

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    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?!

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim-min

    Where all the cares of the world are forgotten

    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!

    Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room at the North Rim-min

    Elegant and classy.

    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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    RV Camping in the Arizona Woods – Coconino National Forest

    June 2019 – Arizona is one of America’s most beautiful and varied states, but lots of people think of it as a place that has only cactus and dry desert landscapes. The surprising thing is that Arizona is home to several radically different types of ecosystems that vary by altitude, and lately we’ve been enjoying some wonderful forest camping in the pines at a cool 7,500′ elevation.

    Happy RV campers in the forest-min

    We’ve been enjoying warm days and cool nights in the forests of northern Arizona.

    Deep in the ponderosa pine woods of Coconino National Forest we’ve been getting out on small two track trails to see what we can find.

    RZR ride on a trail in the forest-min

    Our RZR took us on some cool two-track dirt roads.

    While most of the scenery is just woodsy landscapes filled with pine trees, one day we came across a small stream.

    Polaris RZR on the trail in the forest-min

    What a neat surprise it was to find a small stream!

    It was early morning, and as we followed the streambed we saw some fantastic mirror-like reflections in the almost-still water. In an instant we parked the RZR and began exploring on foot.

    Beautiful stream in the woods-min

    The reflections in the glassy water were very pretty.

    Forest stream in the woods-min

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    Reflections in a forest stream-min

    I just loved this rock and its mirror image!

    Puppy wades into a forest stream-min

    Buddy marched right into the reflections.

    Stream reflections-min

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    After a nice stream-side stroll, we got back in the RZR to explore some more trails and then got out on foot again to hike in the woods and soak in the peace and solitude.

    All of a sudden, we saw a wooden cross near a tree. As we came closer we noticed a big pile of stones in front of it.

    Was someone buried out here?

    Grave in the woods-min

    Is that a grave? Yikes! Whose??!!!

    The wooden cross was well constructed. When we bent down to get a better look at it, we noticed it had a dog collar wrapped tightly around it. We could see the word “Good” hand-written in pen on the visible part of the collar. Maybe it said “Good Dog” on it?

    Carved into the varnished wood was the name, “Mause” (perhaps an “r” was under the collar?). The words “Bird dog” and “Companion” had been carved on it too. On either side of the cross were the dates 11/04 and 04/18. He’d lived to be about 13 1/2 years old.

    You could tell just how much this dog was loved by the care with which his owner had buried him. There were flowers placed under the cross. We wondered why this particular spot had been chosen and if it had a special meaning to the owner or the dog, or both.

    Grave marker cross in the woods-min

    Beloved bird dog “Mause” lies here.

    We left the dog to rest in peace but returned to the little stream a few more times during our stay in the woods. Buddy just loved it there, and he’d run in crazy circles between the two of us to let us know just how great he thought this place was.

    Perhaps that bird dog had loved the spot near the tree in the woods just as much as Buddy loved this little stream.

    Puppy plays on the rocks in a forest stream-min

    Buddy loved coming to this stream.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a forest stream-min

    In between poses, Buddy ran in happy circles between us.

    These were lazy, happy days for the three of us, and Mark and I both took endless photos of our playful puppy as he posed and pranced along the stream.

    Taking pics of puppy in the forest-min

    Mark caught me taking Buddy’s pic…

    Pretty puppy poses by a stream in the woods-min

    And here’s the pic I took!

    Puppy in the forest-min

    At home in the woods.

    Puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    Posing one way…

    A puppy poses on a rock in a stream-min

    …and then the other!

    We planned for this year to be our test-run with the new RZR to see if it was fun enough to bring along in our future travels. Even though the triple towing is a bit of a hassle (but, really, would maneuvering a 44′ to 47′ toy hauler be any easier?) we’re finding that our little 4×4 buggy is taking us places we would never get to otherwise.

    Polaris RZR adventure on a forest trail-min

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    Forest reflections in the early morning-min

    A beautiful place for reflection.

    Other years we have traveled through five states by June. But covering shorter distances and staying for longer in each place has given us wonderful rewards this year.

    Early morning by a forest stream-min

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    Sunburst between the trees in the forest-min

    The morning sun twinkles between the trees.

    Sunrise in the forest-min

    Dawn light.

    Fifth wheel RV in the forest at sunset-min

    Sometimes it’s nice just to relax in the forest and get away from it all!

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    Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike!

    May 2019 – One of the most popular trails in Sedona, Arizona, is the Broken Arrow Trail. There are actually two trails called Broken Arrow that run more or less parallel to each other: a narrow path for hikers and mountain bikers and a wide 4×4 jeep road for motorized vehicles.

    Broken Arrow Trail Hike and Jeep tour in Sedona Arizona-min

    Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona, is great for hiking, biking, horseback riding and motorized buggies too!

    We set out early in the morning and the light was beautifully filtered through the trees.

    Early morning light hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Shafts of light fill our view in the early morning.

    Lovely wildflowers were blooming.

    Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona early morning puppy hike in wildflowers-min

    Buddy pauses in the wildflowers

    Wildflower in Sedona Arizona-min

    Such a rich color, and so delicate too!

    After a brief section going through the woods and climbing a little, the views began to open up in spectacular fashion.

    Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    A short climb through the woods brought us to some breathtaking views.

    Hike Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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    The hiking trail and the jeep road criss-cross every so often, and when we climbed up on a plateau we could see a side-by-side down below.

    UTV on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

    Which is more fun, a buggy ride or a hike? Undoubtedly best to do both!

    But at this early hour the hiking trail was quiet and we enjoyed the wonderful peace and serenity of being by ourselves in the woods greeted by happily chirping birds as we walked.

    Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Peace.

    Sedona’s hiking trails are incredible because you never have to walk very far to get an eye-popping view, and this trail was full of them.

    Views on hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Views, views, views!

    hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

    I’m not sure if Buddy was more captivated by the views or the lizards!

    Puppy hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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    The rising sun warmed the rocks and we breathed deeply in the soft air. Sedona is beloved by everyone who goes there, and mystics and psychics have been drawn to it for a long time. They feel a spiritual power in the red rocks, and no wonder. It is easy to feel a deep connection to life and nature while soaking in these sublime views.

    View on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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    Posing puppy Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    Does our little companion feel the power of the vortex?

    Dramatic red rocks Broken Arrow Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

    Nature’s skyscrapers!

    As the morning progressed we saw a few mountain bikers go by.

    Mountain bike on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

    We shared our hike with a few cyclists. It’s a memorable trail no matter how you do it!

    Broken Arrow is one of the top jeep destinations in the Sedona area, and before long the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day showed up.

    Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    A Pink Jeep rolled into view.

    The drivers love to give the passengers a few thrills along the way, and we watched several pink jeeps come out of the woods and then climb over the wide rocks at crazy angles. The passengers whooped and hollered the whole while.

    One driver yelled to his passengers, “It’s my first day. I don’t really know what I’m doing!” as he swerved all over the place on the flat rocks.

    Pink Jeep Tour Sedona Arizona-min

    The drivers are all great entertainers and they love to give their passengers a thrill.

    Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    What a fun way to experience the Broken Arrow Trail!

    Of course, there are stunning red rock hikes all over several western states, but what impresses me about Sedona is how the residential communities and the hiking trails have somehow managed to blend into each other without one treading on the other too much.

    View from hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Even with homes so close to the trails, we found each hike to be a total immersion in nature.

    There are multi-million dollar homes tucked right up against the trails and some trailheads are down neighborhood roads. Those lucky folks can walk out their back door onto a world class hiking trail every morning. Yet while you’re on the trail, the busy world falls away, especially if you join the rising sun and commune with the waking animals at an early hour!

    Unusual plant Sedona Arizona-min

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    You could spend many months in the Sedona area and hike three to five miles every day and still not tick all the trails off your list. We loved our stay this year and were fortunate that the spring of 2019 was a cool one in Arizona so we could relish this gorgeous landscape a little longer than normal!

    In the Light Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

    Broken Arrow is a gorgeous trail. But, then, every trail in Sedona is gorgeous!

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    Hiking the “Pig Trails” in Sedona, AZ – Breathtaking! (oink oink!)

    May 2019 – The hiking trails in the area around Sedona, Arizona, are so spectacular that they are worth many return visits. The thing is, the trails never look the same because the views and the air and the feeling change as the weather changes.

    Sedona Arizona Pig Trail Hikes in red rocks on an RV trip-min

    The hikes in Sedona’s red rocks are glorious in any weather.
    Here dark clouds loom over the views from the “Pig Trails” hikes.

    We decided to explore the trail system that is known collectively as the Broken Arrow system, and specifically within that system we wanted to see what could be seen from the various Pig Trails.

    The what?

    Well, whoever named these hikes must have seen a lot of javelina rooting around here, because quite a few hikes have pig-related names.

    Javelina (pronounced “have-a-leena” despite being spelled a bit like the Greek throwing spear) are not pigs at all, but they have a piggish look about them from snout to tail.

    They eat prickly pear cactus pads (ouch!) and leave very fibrous poops behind.

    Dead tree and red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

    A dead tree and dark skies — what a delicious morning on the trail in Sedona!

    So, the trails we wandered around on had names like “Pig Tail Trail,” “Hog Wash,” “Peccary,” and “Hog Heaven.” How funny!

    We got started on our hike a little before 6:00 in the morning on a blustery and overcast day, and the trail was damp from rainfall the night before. We breathed deeply in the crisp fresh air.

    I especially loved the smell of the wet creosote bushes. It is a pungent smell that somehow evokes the essence of the southwestern desert for me. That unique creosote smell is especially thick in the Phoenix area during “Monsoon Season” in the summertime.

    Buddy didn’t say anything about the smell of the wet creosote leaves, but he barreled around the corners in sheer delight.

    Puppy runs on hiking trail-min

    Buddy flies around a corner to tell me what’s up ahead!

    There was a little archway between the trees on the trail, and we took some fun pics of each other with the red rock spires in the distance.

    On the hiking trail in Sedona Arizona-min

    Two Happy hikers.

    Another happy hiker!

    The gloomy clouds made the views particularly dramatic, and with each turn in the trail we got a different glimpse of the distant spires in a natural frame.

    Sedona Arizona red rock pinnacles with storm clouds-min

    Distant red rock spires framed by dark clouds and darker hills.

    As an aside, we just saw the article I wrote that offers a few of our photography tips in the June 2019 issue of Trailer Life Magazine, and it is truly eye-popping.

    The editors kindly set aside six full pages for the article — all without ads — and called it, “Shoot to Thrill.” How perfect!

    Some of our favorite pics appear in the article along with some notes about things we think about when we take photos in our travels.

    I don’t know if they’ll eventually post the article on their website or not, but for those who subscribe to the magazine, please keep an eye out for it! The article talks about framing, among many other things that are all very straight forwar, even with a smartphone camera, and we used an example of the framing technique from Arches National Park since we hadn’t yet taken these photos in Sedona!

    Red rock pinnacles with storm clouds Sedona Arizona-min

    We kept seeing these cool framed images as we hiked.

    Sedona Arizona red rock spire-min

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    As we rounded a bend, the trees that had been partially blocking our view disappeared and our jaws dropped as we looked out at the fabulous stormy sky hovering over the red rock peaks.

    Sedona Arizona red rock view with stormy sky and puppy-min

    Wow!

    Sedona Arizona red rock view-min

    Will the storm clouds break?

    Suddenly, we heard a clap of thunder in the distance. Uh oh! That was it for hiking! We hightailed it outta there and ran for the safety of a coffee shop in town where we enjoyed a latte and a muffin while it rained.

    Storm clouds over Sedona Arizona-min

    The storm clouds got darker and then thunder sent us scurrying off the trail!

    Storm clouds continued to swirl around the Sedona area and dump rain now and then for a few days. One afternoon we saw the most amazing cloud form over our rig.

    Fifth wheel RV under storm clouds in Arizona-min

    What a cloud!

    Then the sun set in brilliant color right over some blooming cactus flowers.

    Cactus flowers at sunset-min

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    Sunset with cactus flowers Sedona Arizona-min

    Cactus flowers give the sunset a nod.

    While the skies did the wild thing above us, we spotted some spring wildflowers blooming at our feet. Beautiful!

    Pretty wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

    More pretty wildflowers.

    Red cactus flowers-min

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    When we were out and about around town we saw some gorgeous views as the skies slowly cleared. That’s the unusual thing about this area: even driving around town you’ll see awe-inspiring views!

    Red rock views Courthouse Butte Sedona Arizona-min

    As the storms began to give way, we saw some gorgeous view around town.

    We decided to check out the pig-related hiking trails once again on another morning, and this time, as day dawned out on the trail, there was sun in the sky.

    What a difference that made. The subtle coloration on the distant peaks became washed out and the sky was a beautiful blue but not too exciting, so our focus shifted a bit.

    We quickly teached the point where we had turned around before and kept going to see what was ahead.

    Puppy playing in the red rocks-min

    We hit the Pig Trails on a sunny day and the features that captivated us were completely different!

    We came to an open area in the trail where we could prowl around on huge wide flat rocks. Buddy sat down to take it all in and wait to find out what was next on our hiking agenda.

    Puppy in the red rocks of Sedona Arizona-min

    Buddy takes a break and enjoys the view.

    The rain had created puddles in places where there probably aren’t any most of the time. There was a narrow ribbon of a stream flowing along a crevice in the rocks.

    Sedona Arizona hikes are great for photography-min

    Our focus shifted from the distant views to the trickle of water and puddles near our feet!

    Mark spotted me with my reflection, and after yelling to me to stand still so he could get a pic, we both started to look around for reflection images. You have to get low for these. Buddy is already low, so he helped out in the search.

    Red rock reflections in Sedona Arizona hike-min

    Seeing my reflection, Mark gave us both an idea to look for other reflections in a cluster of small puddles!

    Photo op in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min

    Buddy kept an eye out for lizards while we scouted for reflection images!

    Wow, what fantastic reflections we found! For my birthday a few months ago, Mark had given me a Nikon 12-24mm wide angle lens, and this jewel of a lens creates jewel-like images!

    Red rock reflections Hog Heaven hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

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    Reflected Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min

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    Of course, sometimes just as I get a cool shot lined up it gets photo-bombed by our four-legged friend.

    Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min

    Oops! Photo bomb!

    The little puddles made some beautiful images and an hour quickly passed while we crawled around on our hands and knees peering at the distant red rocks with our faces and cameras just above the water.

    Puppy leaps across the red rocks-min

    We loved crawling around these shallow puddles, and so did our furry friend.

    Puddle reflections in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min

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    Interestingly, we ended up on this trail a few days later and the puddles were all but gone!

    Mountain bikers love riding the trails in the Broken Arrow system, no doubt because they are very challenging! In some sections you ride on an exposed sandstone ledge — not for the faint of heart!

    Fortunately, we had hit the trail so early in the morning that we didn’t see a soul until the final few hundred yards when a mountain biker approached.

    Mountain biker in Sedona Arizona-min

    At the very end of our hike we saw the first person on the trail — a mountain biker!

    We’ve begun to realize that if you are lucky enough to get to Sedona, Arizona, whether with an RV or without one, you can’t go wrong on any of the hiking trails.

    Some trails have funny piggy names while others are named for features in the landscape, but either way, they are all fabulous and they are all worth doing!

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