September 30, 2012

9/23/12 - Grand Canyon NP (North Rim)

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon gets only 10% of the visitors that the South Rim does.  We were at the South Rim last November.  Let the crowds go south--we headed to the North Rim!

It's about 10 miles across the canyon, "as the crow flies", though I've never seen one fly a straight line.  By road, it's 215 miles; not a lot of bridges across the Colorado River. The North Rim is about 1,000 feet higher so it's cooler than the South Rim.  And I think it's a lot prettier.  (Of course, that could be because there are fewer people and you can actually see it--see paragraph 1.)
The approach to the park is through open range and a high meadow surrounded by forest.  Various signs warn to be on the lookout for cattle, elk, deer and bison (only they're not buffalo--it's a beefalo herd...which we also didn't see).  I think we saw a cow or two, but none of the good stuff. 
After checking out the Visitor Center, we headed out behind the Lodge to Bright Angel Point.  If anybody asks, it's really a long way down! 

While we were having our picnic, I saw a condor looking for his own lunch.  Just imagine a really ugly bird with a 9 foot wingspan flying in lazy loopy circles cruising for carrion.  George thinks it was a raven.  It was a condor!!!  But I didn't get a good picture.

We took the Scenic Drive to Cape Royal.  There's a little detour to Angels Window--check out the Colorado River through the window!  The trail leads right out to the top of the arch. 
We stopped at Walhalla Overlook, and waited for a rain squall to go past.  It was definitely worth the wait!
From the Vista Encantada overlook, you're supposed to be able to see all the way to the Painted Desert.  Of course, it requires a clear day, which we definitely didn't have.  The vibrant red canyon walls are from iron oxides.  (Since we've been on our trip, I've decided that half the country is rusting away--and the other half is blowing away!  See it while you still can!)
We ended at Point Imperial--this is the highest viewpoint at the Grand Canyon.  Even without bright sun and blue skies, I really liked this one.
 Link to more pics of the North Rim