North versus South… Or even West?

The Walhalla Plateau

Grand Canyon, one of Earth’s most powerful, inspiring landscapes, overwhelmed our senses.  Its story tells of geologic processes played out over unimaginable time spans as a unique combination of size, color & dazzling erosional forms.  Its rugged landscape hosts a fascinating variety of plant & animal communities, from the desert next to the Colorado River, deep in the canyon to montane forests atop its North Rim.  Humans have played parts in the story for thousand of years!  Broken spearpoints, enigmatic split-twin figurines, decorated pots, abandoned mines & historic places suggest some who have called the canyon home.

Cape Royal - North Rim

Cape Royal – North Rim

The Colorado River has carved a score of canyons but none so awe-inspiring as the Grand Canyon.  It may be one canyon but we distinguished three rims…  Which brought us to the dilemma ‘Which one to choose’  The North & South Rim are just 16km apart as a raven flies but 356km or 4h by road!  The  West Rim lies close to Las Vegas but 5h apart from the South Rim and is therefor the most touristic with ‘attractions’ such as ‘the Native American Village’ & ‘The Skywalk’, a glass walking surface suspending more that 1000m above the Colorado River and 23m from the edge of the canyon.

Rain & thunderstorm @ Cape Final hiking trail

Rain & thunderstorm @ Cape Final hiking trail

The North Rim is the least touristic side and therefor the most untouched part.  Chris & I chose to explore both North & South.  Coming from Bryce Canyon in Utah, we first drove through the small town of Kanab to reach the rugged North Rim.  The North Rim is higher in elevation than the South Rim and therefor rougher due to higher erosion of the rocks.  We started with a scenic drive on the Walhalla Plateau with scenic vistas in Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point & the Walhalla Overlook.  In Cape Royal we did a short 15-minute walk along pinyon pines, cliffroses, bush ferns, etc. with a breathtaking 300′ view into the depts of the Canyon at the end of the trail.

Cape Final

Cape Final

The North Rim is an oasis in the desert with lush green meadows surrounded by a mixed conifer forest sprinkled with white-barked aspen and is very different to the South Rim.  Solitude, awe-inspiring views, a slower pace and the feeling of going back in time were the main reasons we didn’t want to miss this less known part of the Canyon.  Nevertheless there ‘s a lodge, a camping ground, 2 restaurants & a shop at the North Rim.  We ended our visit with a 2h hike at Cape Final.  The sun disappeared unfortunately and dark clouds filled the sky with heavy rain, thunder & lightning.  Not the ideal situation but fun nevertheless. The only thing was we had to be careful as many trees were hit by the lightning and were burned to the ground.

Ed & George @ their home in Flagstaff

Ed & George @ their home in Flagstaff

Once done, we drove to the South Rim where we first stopped at Desert View & Lipn Point for amazing views on the Colorado River before reaching the touristy ‘Grand Canyon Village’.  We walked from Mather Point to Yavapai Point, a short but beautiful walk on top of the cliffs with breathtaking views of the 16km wide & 1600m deep  canyon.

After a beautiful day in Grand Canyon, we drove historical Route 66 to Flagstaff,  the getaway town for the Gran Canyon National Park.  Aaron & Ed and their cute dog George offered us their home for the night.  Aaron & Ed lived in a beautiful house in the outskirts of Flagstaff.  We spent a few hours chatting before embracing the night to be fresh the next morning for new adventures!

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Comments
3 Responses to “North versus South… Or even West?”
  1. jillscherb7 says:

    Cool views of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon! I love the ones where Chris is “cavorting” at the top of various cliffs. Reminded me of a photo I took to China for a presentation on the “real” Old West in America, of ladies high-kicking off those same steep cliffs. ; )

  2. jillscherb7 says:

    Your Grand Canyon notes also reminded me of the Harvey Girls, young women brought in from the Eastern U.S. to the West and Southwest to work in emergent hospitality industry hotels tied to the railways by Mr. Fred Harvey. They worked along the Santa Fe Railways routes at various places and inns, at the Grand Canyon and other places, and are part of that legacy of the developing Southwest as the country moved “Westward Ho!” Don’t know if WordPress will allow links but here’s one on Fred Harvey: http://www.xanterra.com/who-we-are/our-fred-harvey-legacy/

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