Those adventurous enough to drive the additional 200 miles from the south rim of The Grand Canyon, located in Northern Arizona, to the North Rim of the same Grand Canyon, are gifted with a trip back in time.
Located just ten miles as-the-crow-flies from the south rim’s Grand Canyon National Park new Mather Point visitor center, the Northern side of the Grand Canyon takes us to what we would’ve experienced on the south rim if we were able to 100 years ago. Yes, we will still travel there in our modern cars and SUV’s cooled by air conditioning, although once you arrive at the 8,000-foot elevation of Jacob Lake, you will no longer need the AC and may want to consider opening the window and partaking in some cool fresh air. We will drive through giant ponderosa, aspen groves, a vast burn reminiscent of an unmanaged forest fire, finally reaching the meadows and the buffalo herd frequently found there in.
Only one Ranger hut guarding the entrance, worked by Rangers that still walk up to the car window, instead of impersonally working a booth, happily take their time with you, knowing there will never be more than a few cars waiting.
There is enough parking for the vehicles that arrive, a few cabins located on the edge of the rim, plus a few more and a camping area located back in the pines. The majestic Main Lodge, grandiose in its design and view of the canyon whose edge it perches upon provides shelter and food to those seeking it. Outside of the lodge is where it is at! The reason for the season! The View into the Grand Canyon and across to the South Rim of the canyon. Most days, we can see the volcanic peaks of Humpries located just north of Flagstaff, AZ.
Most are content with the rural energy the developed area of the North Rim village provides; others need to level-up the adventure. These people jump into a 4×4 and travel out to the outer reaches of the park, there, at spots like Point Sublime and Timp point we generally have the view all to ourselves. The best sunset I’ve ever experienced was at Point Sublime! Shh, don’t tell, just go and experience it.
The trails that go down below the rim of the Grand Canyon are another level of adventure. The trails descending from the North Rim are less maintained and less traveled, even the main artery, the North Kaibab Trail sees significantly less travel than its southern counterpart.
Although the North Rim sees a fraction of the visitors that the South Rim does, it is still a good idea to plan ahead. Both campsites and cabins are limited.
To plan your North Rim adventure, start here: https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/north-rim.htm
If you desire to disperse camp in the Kaibab National Forest outside of the park, here is a link with some valuable information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/kaibab/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=11697&actid=34
Oh, I almost forgot, there is next to no cell phone reception on the north rim or in the northern Kaibab N.F. Just go with it, embrace the journey back in time and do what they did, look at the views, and smell the clean air. And if you are a parent, watch the awe in your children, it will appear, maybe not until day three, when they are used to looking up instead of into a device. It is worth it!
Enjoy the adventure!