Rim, North, Grand Canyon
If you are looking to avoid the Grand Canyon's summer crowds but still see one of America's greatest sightes, you should consider a visit to the North Rim. Open only in summer and relatively isolated, the North Rim gets only about 10% of the visitors that the South Rim gets. Yet, in many ways it is a more pleasant place -- its higher elevation means that it is greener, shadier and cooler than the south side, features that we found very attractive in the midst of a southwestern summer. In fact, the North Rim was not on our itinerary for our southern Utah vacation, but we got so tired of the heat we changed our plans and drove to the North Rim to camp and cool off -- a successful strategy!
The only downside to visiting the North Rim is that the best views of the Grand Canyon are really from the south side. You see, it's the north side that has all the nooks and crannies in its wall, while the south side is relatively straight and monolithic -- so when observed from the other side it doesn't look quite so magnificently complex. So, frankly you have to visit both sides.
I asked a Ranger if I could succesfully get to Point Sublime with my rental Jeep and he said I needed a high clearance vehicle. Of course I questioned him on whether the Jeep would be OK and he hesitated. I said that was enough of an answer.
I took the Point Sublime road about 4 miles until I came to an area that looked like I might not get through. At that point I turned the Jeep around and went to plan B.
I stopped by the one lane rough road and walked about 2 miles into the forest. That was probably the best time I had along the North Rim. Just Nature and myself. Don't get lost! I had a compass with me.
It started to thunder so I headed back to the Jeep and then the rain came. It was August 2006 and Monsoon season.
I felt sorry for the people that had hiked down into the Canyon via teh North Kaibab trail. I told them it was going to rain but they jsut kept going anyway. It's easy to keep decending into the Canyon because with every turn you make the Canyon invites you to see a new view or a different vantage point that is irresistable.
I went to the Saloon and had a couple of beers. Wow did it rain!
The next day I found out the Point Sublime Trail (18 miles one way) had been washed out. The road already had boulders in it and big holes. Thank God I didn't try to go to the 18 miles!
The North Rim is much less frequented by tourists. There is not much accommodation either, so you´ll have to book well in advance.
The views are as fine as from the South Rim, and hiking is well possible, too.
Since the North Rim is much higher than the South Rim, both vegetation and climate are different. You´ll find forests and lots of snow in winter. Actually, the park is closed then.
Travelling to the North Rim by car is not all that easy - prepare for a long ride! You´ll have to go all the way round!
If there is any way possible of adding the north rim to your itinerary, you will be glad you did. We were able to combine the north rim with visits to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon in southern Utah.
Not only does the Grand Canyon itself look different from the north rim, but you will find yourself in an radically different setting - topography, plantlife, even animals.
SEE MY TRAVELOGUE FOR THE NORTH RIM.
Visit the North Rim. Not as many people go to the North Rim as the South Rim. For the lesser crowds alone it is worth it to visit the North Rim rather than the South. But it is also worth it to go because the views are absolutely spectacular. But I have to admit that the North Rim was not what i expected The Grand Canyon to look like. So if you want the typical view and are stuck with wanting that, then the North Rim is not for you. But if you just want to experience the Grand Canyon and experience some beautiful views then definitely visit the North Rim. It was absolutely amazing and definitely worth the visit.