North Rim, Grand Canyon, Arizona. June 2
Heresy. That’s what it is. After you look at the Grand Canyon for a while, you (us, anyway) say what’s next? Yes, it is deep and wide and has varied colors of rock. But we have seen so many great sights, that the hype of the Grand Canyon seems greater than its reality. Are we really so jaundiced in our view?
We will hold off on a full decision to determine how sunset and sunrise light affect the color of the rocks. I think, with no proof, that much of the color grandeur shown in photographs comes from varied lenses and filters used by the photographers.
We left Page AZ early this morning, on the road with breakfast by 8 AM. We wanted to fully enjoy the Grand Canyon views. The drive went down and around steep, high, dramatically red cliffs leading to the Colorado River crossing at Navajo Bridge (3500 feet above sea level); along the equally steep and colorful Vermillion Cliffs National Monument; climbing up to almost 9000 feet on the Kaibab Plateau and National Forest (ponderosa pine trees!); before finally descending to about 8000 feet at the various north rim overlooks.
Navajo Bridge crosses the Colorado River near Lee’s Crossing; the only place for hundreds of miles where the banks on both sides of the river allowed for relatively easy crossing. A ferry was operated by a Mormon settler fleeing the law for his role in the Mormon massacre of a non-Mormon wagon train in 1857. The ferry operated until the first Navajo bridge was completed in 1929. That first bridge is still in existence today for pedestrians and was the location for our pictures of the Colorado River here. A new bridge was completed in 1995 to allow for greater traffic and heavier loads.
After crossing the river on the bridge, we drove along and up the Vermillion Cliffs, a national wilderness area whose rocks show hues of red, white and blue. The road continued up into the Kaibab Plateau where we suddenly crossed a transition zone and were presented with larger juniper trees and then Ponderosa pine. The temperature cooled down (Page was to reach a high of 100 degrees).
When we reached the entrance station for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, it was only 11 AM. Our first viewing point was going to be at the end of the park drive at Cape Royal. We passed through areas burnt by the fire of 2006; new growth shows as a bright green contrast. At Cape Royal and again at Roosevelt Point, we went hiking along the rim and had our first views of the Canyon from this angle.
As noted in the first paragraph, the views are fine. Grand Canyon is amazing, just not our first preference for overwhelming. I am sure all of you have at least seen pictures of it. We are tossing in a few more.
The park is full, but it is a very manageable size. Many of the visitors here had come from Zion previously and talked of the crowds at that park. We are in a “western” style cabin near the visitor center and Lodge. The Lodge is a gathering and feeding place, no accommodations are offered there. We had dinner in the main dining room with a window table providing views of the canyon below. A ranger gave a talk about the re-emergence of California condors and then sunset viewing wrapped up our day.
Ed and Chris