One of the first things I did when I moved to Page was go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I mean, come on, you are this close to one of the most jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world. Of course, you have to go to the Grand Canyon. It was January, and there was snow on the ground, and yet a large crowd was gathered on the edge, in awe just like me.
Last summer was my first summer in Page and I had planned to go and see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. But it just didn’t happen. You really have a limited window to go see the North Rim. The South Rim is open year round, but the North Rim is only open from May 15 through Oct. 15 each year. The North Rim is open for day use after Oct. 15, but only through Dec. 1 or until snow closes Highway 67.
Since I missed it last year, I grabbed my friends Dustin and Maggie, and all of our cameras, on one beautifully cool, yet humid Friday in June, and we headed out to the North Rim, about two hours from Page.
A little over an hour into the trip, we started a winding ascent on US 89A. There are signs warning about the sharp curves – believe them. I didn’t and took a curve a tad too fast waking Dustin up from a sound sleep in the back seat.
The road continues to ascend and curve as the landscape changes. Ponderosa Pines start to litter the landscape. And the outside temperature began to fall.
The highway into the North Rim is Highway 67. And the fork in the road where 89A and Highway 67 meet is called Jacob Lake. Stop. Pull over. Trust me. If you like cookies and pastries you must stop at a quaint little place called Jacob Lake Inn. Although I had never been to their location before, I was familiar with Jacob Lake Inn. The inn has a booth during The Chamber Page Lake Powell’s Vendor Fair during the annual Balloon Regatta in the fall. And last fall, I bought a dozen cookies and knew why they always had a line at their booth. After I made plans to take the trip to the North Rim, I sent the cookie signal out to my friends in Page – I’m stopping for cookies, how many do you want and what kind. I think I scared the kid behind the counter when I asked for three dozen cookies. After wrapping up my cookies to go, I ordered a cherry turnover as a snack/lunch on the trip.
Armed with sugar, we hopped back in the car and started the 30 miles south to the North Rim. As we moved further south, we could see that a fire had swept through the Aspens in 2006. And although the devastation was obvious, it was also quite beautiful. I found a pullout spot and three of us armed with our cameras started exploring. I snapped a picture of a sign that talked about the Aspen. The fire in 2006 was actually a good thing for them. The sign said that many of the trees were killed and ground was blackened, but aspen thrive after fire. Because of their extensive root systems, all of the aspen are really part of the same trees that were top-killed. Even though these trees may have died, the roots survived and took advantage of the open soil, sending up new shoots within a few weeks after the fire had passed.
After taking some artsy pictures, we continued on south to the North Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon sits atop the Kaibab Plateau. The highway cuts right through the forest and at one point the road is surrounded by this lush, green meadow. There are signs warning drivers to watch for animals, including deer.
There is a cost to enter the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I suggest buying the annual National
We arrived at the parking lot and my first thought was wow – where are all the tourists?
Parks Pass. This pass not only gets you into any National Park and also gets you into the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Antelope Point Marina back in Page.
I did a little research about the North Rim online before our trip, and remembered seeing the names Point Imperial and Cape Royal as sights to see. When the sign came to turn off the main road, we took it.
Our first stop was Point Imperial. The road up to Point Imperial isn’t very wide and you are again ascending around some steep curves. We arrived at the parking lot and my first thought was wow – where are all the tourists? There were maybe 10 cars in the parking lot. The visit to the South Rim in January, in the middle of winter, had more tourists that this lovely June day did on the North Rim. I had read that the North Rim only gets about 10 percent of the visitors to the Grand Canyon.
Not that I was complaining about the lack of tourists. It was like we had the park to ourselves. We walked down to the viewing deck and took some pictures, and then helped other tourists out by taking their group picture. Everyone we encountered was friendly and happy to take someone’s picture.
Point Imperial was an easy to navigate lookout. I judge places I visit on the question, could I take my parents who are elderly and not in very good shape, there. And I believe they would enjoy Point Imperial. The only draw back is the elevation. The North Rim sits at about 8,800 feet above sea level. That elevation can be a little hard on the lungs. Maggie and I talked about how we had heard that chocolate helps with higher elevation issues. We really were just looking for an excuse to eat another Jacob Lake Inn chocolate cookie.
We left Point Imperial and headed out for Cape Royal. Along the road to Cape Royal are numerous pullouts. If you have time, stop and take some pictures or even go hiking on one of the numerous trails.
The road to Cape Royal ends at a parking lot. But right before you get to the parking lot, you will see Angels Window. If you are able to, pull over and take some awesome shots of this hole through the rock.
As we pulled into the parking lot at Cape Royal my earlier question was answered. Here’s where the tourists were. Although, there were probably only about 40-50 cars in the parking lot.
Before you make the hike to the lookout of Cape Royal, be sure to take some water with you. I won’t lie; this is a bit of a hike. I don’t think my parents would be able to make it all the way down to Cape Royal. Luckily, there a couple other lookout points along the path, including another view of Angels Window. It was while we stopped at this lookout that the visitors on top of Angels Window started playing a game with those of us at the lookout, calling out Hello! And we would respond, Hello!
We didn’t go to the top of Angels Window, but instead continued on the trail to Cape Royal. There were maybe five people at the Cape Royal overlook. Five people. It was like having the entire Grand Canyon to yourself. That’s something you can’t say about the South Rim.
There was a storm hitting the South Rim and we could see it making its’ way across. Every now and then you would hear thunder and see some lighting.
It started to get warm and humid, so we headed back to the car. Because all of us had plans for the night, we never made it to the Visitor Center.
On the way back, another storm was brewing and the sky was getting darker. For about a three-mile stretch, on almost every curve, we would spot deer on the side of the road. Just grazing, watching us drive on by.