July 9, 2019
We don’t normally do an entire national park in one day, but we had to squeeze this one in between volunteer days at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. We left very early for the drive from Kanab, UT to the North Rim, about a 2 hour drive. I drove, Holly navigated, and our granddaughter Chloe napped.
The last time I visited the North Rim was more than 22 years ago when I backpacked rim-to-rim-to-rim with a Boy Scout Troop. Even though I was only here for one day I got to see more of the North Rim than I did then.
Being more remote than the South Rim, there are fewer visitors here although it was still pretty crowded on this day.
We made a quick stop at the Visitor Center to pick up the park’s Junior Ranger book before attending to our first order of business, which was to eat breakfast. So we headed for the restaurant for their all you can eat buffet which included made to order omelets. Once we were sufficiently stuffed we made our way down the stairs to the lodge great room.
The lodge has a beautiful rustic look with very comfortable overstuffed couches, a large fireplace, and amazing views of the canyon. We showed up just in time for Chloe to join about 20 or so other kids for a Ranger-led program on the large outdoor picnic area. That gave me more time to digest my breakfast.
Having stalled long enough, it was finally time to start walking off breakfast. We started off slow with a half mile round-trip to Bright Angel Point. The operative word here is slow as we were hiking at an elevation of 8,000 feet, give or take. The only one who wasn’t huffing and puffing was…Miss Chloe. However the walk was worth it just for the view
Returning to the main visitor area we spent some time in the small Visitor Center and gift shop. Then we headed back to the car to explore some of the other areas of the park. Our first stop was the parking area for the North Kaibab trailhead. We were in luck as we ran across a group that had just begun a trail ride. In this steep, rugged terrain, you don’t ride horses. You ride mules. They may be stubborn animals and hard to get going but they are much more sure-footed than horses.
We let the mules pass and hiked down the trail a short distance. I had been on that trail 22 years ago but didn’t remember what the trail or scenery looked like. The hike up was exhausting and I was more interested in reaching the top and didn’t look back at the view. On the hike down my group had started well before dawn and there was no scenery.
Our last stop was to take Cape Royal Road to the highest point on the North Rim, Imperial Point, which is 8,800 feet above sea level. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to see hundreds of millions of years of Earth’s history presented to you like a gigantic layer cake.
With the day drawing to a close we headed back to Kanab for a well-earned rest. On the way down to the valley we stopped at the Le Fevre Overlook where we could get a terrific look at the cliffs of Escalante-Staircase. Each row of cliffs is a different color: chocolate, vermilion, white, grey and pink.