Grand Canyon North and South: A Tale of Two Rims

The first stop of the Lucky Charm’s 2018 Summer Adventure begins at the Grand Canyon National Park.  Despite being “out west” for 36 years, Philip had never visited either of the two rims, North or South. Crazy! Behold …. beauty in many layers!

Though only 11 miles across from each other, the two rims could not be more different from each other.  South = popular/crowded.  North = deserted/unspoiled.  90% of the Grand Canyon’s more than 6 million visitors last year went to the South Rim!  Here are just a few examples:

TRAFFIC

South Rim Entrance:  5 lanes of traffic, 15 cars deep
North Rim Entrance:  Sail Right Through

WILDLIFE

South Rim: Domesticated elk happy to advise on your RV setup
North Rim:  Wild bison, roaming wild and free

ENTRY MONUMENTS

South Rim:  Standard-issue NPS monument, huge parking lot for masses of people waiting to take a photo
North Rim:  Beautiful hand-carved sign with nobody around

OBSERVATION OVERLOOKS

South Rim:  crowded with tourists 24/7
North Rim:  we own this place!

And so on and so forth! We definitely preferred the North Rim, though you can’t really “do” the Grand Canyon without visiting both. It’s a slow five-hour drive between the two rims, though if you’re world-record-holder Jim Walmsley, you could RUN down the canyon from rim-to-rim-and-back-again (42 miles) in just 5 hours 55 minutes instead!   Read all about it here and feel bad about your sorry self.

The GC is about a mile deep and slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Amazing vistas abound!

On the South Rim, we hiked **partway** down into the Canyon via the South Kaibab Trail. It’s almost 8 miles to the bottom, but we went just to Cedar Ridge (about 2 miles) and then back out. The simple math to do in the Canyon, is budget twice as much time to go up, as it takes you to go down! Pretty much true in life too, now that I think about it.

The power of the Canyon can be deceiving, and you need to prepare!  To barf, apparently!  We appreciated the artist’s attention to detail.

Most people stay within the same ¼ mile of the main South Rim Visitor Center, but a drive 22 miles east to the Desert View area yields thinner crowds (primary goal), amazing views (yes please) and a cool tower with unique architecture (bonus!).

Though the canyon is 244 miles long, the 300-foot-wide Colorado River is only visible from a few spots (Desert View being one of them). 

Canyon views from the North Rim are more dramatic, as the Canyon drops more steeply down from this side and the colors are deeper and richer.

Bright Angel Point is near the historic lodge and therefore the most accessible. Yet still relatively people-free, yay!

Point Imperial is a 30-minute drive from the North Lodge but worth the trek with its stunning red rock views!

The North also benefits from its higher elevation with soaring pine trees, whereas the South is mostly rock and scrub
brush.

Driving from the South Rim to the North Rim, views from the Navajo Bridge near Lees Ferry showcased the (infrequent) blue-green beauty of the Colorado River. The water is just as likely to be muck-brown, so we got lucky!  Another float-trip group was taking a lunch break on the water’s edge.  Food with a view, indeed!

We’ve been hampered (or is it blessed??) with crappy internet connection, so this post is a couple weeks in arrears. We are now in McCall, Idaho (our happy place!) for two weeks, enjoying temps in the low 70’s and outdoor recreation galore!

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