Point Imperial is the furthest north and highest of the North Rim overlooks (8,803 feet). The views here are slightly different, as you can look out beyond the canyon itself to the Painted Desert beyond and the land of the Navajo Reservation.
From the car park, a very short trail descends a little to the flat rocks of the overlook. Those nervous of heights will be pleased to see that it is protected by railings – the walls of the canyon fall away vertically on three sides. The views are extensive and varied, encompassing the Echo and Vermilion Cliffs, Marble Gorge, the flat, treeless plateau east of the river, and a large area of buttes and cliffs downstream to the south.
The drive here is pretty too, past several green meadows surrounded by aspens (see photo 3). There’s a nicely situated picnic area near the parking lot at the end, where we sat to enjoy the packed lunch we’d bought at breakfast time at the lodge.
This short (less than half a mile each way) easy walk starts beside the North Rim’s historic lodge. The paved trail descends a short distance to the southern tip of a narrow promontory where you get wonderful views over the Grand Canyon, from The Transept in the west to Bright Angel Canyon in the east. The walk, though steep in places, is manageable in a wheelchair or with a buggy, so there’s no reason for anyone to miss out.
We came here twice as we were staying in the Lodge, so were able to see the spectacular view in the dramatic bad weather of our first day and the calm sunshine of the second. Whatever the weather, it’s a sight not to be missed, as my two contrasting photos show, I hope.
Touring the SOUTH RIM VIEW POINTS will take you most of a day. Hans and I entered the Park just before 10:00 a.m. and departed around 6:00 p.m.
Starting from the Park's South Entrance, you will first come across Yavapai Point and then it is on to Mather Point. Yaki Point is next at 7262 feet elevation.
You will be driving along the Rim on Desert View Drive ( # 64). Here you will also find picnic areas and Canyon View Information Plaza. While we were there, much construction was taking place and a few areas were closed off to the public.
Grandview Point at 7399 feet elevation, is next. Then Moran Point, my favourite, at 7160 feet elevation. On the right, you will find Tusayan Ruins and Museum. We did not stop there this time as we saw it last time.
Next is Lipan Point at 7360 feet elevation, Navajo Point at 7461 feet elevation and finally Desert View at 7438 feet elevation. After Desert View , you come out at the Park's East entrance and on to Highway 89 which gets you to Cameron (30 miles).
A beautiful lookout on the North Rim, Bright Angel Point is at the end of a half mile paved trail starting a the Grand Canyon Lodge. From this point you can see the South Rim and all the way to the San Fracisco Peaks (near Flagstaff). The walk is not hard or strenuous at all so it is perfectly fine for children. However, I would definitely recommend keeping the kids close because the overlook is high and gets close to the edge. From this overlook, you can see so much and if you are lucky you can see and hear some birds flying in the canyon. This is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the North Rim.
Starting at Desert View, you will have lots of opportunites to view this great natural wonder through various view points.
I was surprised last August when I took the time and effort to stop at all the overlooks. Each had a unique, special view of the Grand Canyon.
During the late Spring through early Fall, you can take the free shuttle to the West of the Village area. There are a lot of nice vistas there too. I enjoyed Hermit's Rest, the furthest point you ride the shuttle to. There is some history there with the building. It was built in 1915 and looks pretty cool. It was abandoned in 1930 after the constuction of Phantom Ranch.
Some hardier souls can hike to Hermit's Rest (about 7-8 miles from GC Village), but we found the trip by shuttle most enjoyable. There are stops at 8 main view points where the shuttle stops on the outward journey (only 2 on the return trip) so you can get many different views of the canyon. Also along the way is a monument to John Wesley Powell who is said to be the first to transverse the Grand Canyon (I suspect some Native Americans had done much of it before). At any rate he mapped and photographed it and thereby put it on the map for the rest of the US population. At the end of the trail is Hermit's Rest, an attractive stopover for tourists, hikers and bikers. There is a nice little snack shop and new restroom facilities in a lovely old limestone building designed by soutwest architect Mary Colter. Probably not many females in that profession in 1914. The name, Hermit's Rest came because of a French Canadian porspector, Louis Boucher, who lived in the area for over 20 years and probably had a hermit-like existence. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
Driving this route is not possible as it is closed to private vehicles.
The overlook offers shopping, dining, restrooms and ample parking space. And some spectacular views of the Canyon, of course. Since, looking west, you see, say, all across the Canyon, the distances in your field of view are gigantenormous. Probably only the neighbour Lipan Point can also afford somewhat "matching" field of view. I prefer Desert View, though.
We drove along the South Rim from Mather Point to Desert View by the eastern park entrance. We had decided to make a stop there, since it is the highest point on the southern side. There is an information center and a view tower, with indian art and souvernirs. And there is a cafe, I got my coffee :-) I need not say that the view was gorgeous, do I?
I had heard that Mather Point had the best view, but to my opinion this is better!
Outside the tower there is a terrace, looks like it is used for barbecuing (lower right corner of picture 5). How lovely would that be, to enjoy a good meal and the sunset over the canyon simultaneously! * Must come back! *
Mather Point is many visitors' first view of the canyon as it is at the south entrance to the park and next to the central Canyon View Information Plaza visitors center, the main road through the park (Hwy 64), the shuttle bus stops, restrooms, bookstore and several hiking trails.
This area was so busy when we visited that it was almost annoying. The parking lots were packed, and we had to park along the side of the road in the ditch, all the while avoiding pedestrians who were everywhere. Once we walked to the overlooks along the rim, we were often waiting in line to get a clear view over the canyon. But it was Labor Day Weekend, so bad planning on my part.
The visitors center at Mather Point is open daily from 8 to 5, and there are outdoor displays which are always viewable.
Moran Point is one of just a few locations on th South Rim where you can see the Colorado River deep in the canyon below. From here you can just catch a glimpse of the green-brown water through a gap in the rock.
During our visit, this was one of the more quiet spots (other than some of the small road-side pull offs) where we weren't overwhelmed by other visitors and there was adequate parking.
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