After completing our tour of the Mighty Five–the five national parks in Utah, it was time to move on and what better icing on the cake than a visit to Grand Canyon National Park? The North Rim was just 98 miles away, close enough not to be missed. Grand Canyon Village on the south rim, on the other hand, was 253 miles away. We decided against that option as we’ve been to the south rim several times in the past. We’d never been to the North Rim, however, so that became our next destination.
As I’ve mentioned before, finding lodging was sometimes a challenge and cell phone coverage was an even bigger challenge. When I finally got a signal, I called the Grand Canyon Lodge and just missed securing the last cabin inside the park by minutes. Kaibab Lodge, the closest accommodations outside the park, was fully booked as well. My next option was Jacob Lake, 45 miles north of the North Rim Visitor Center. On our way to the North Rim, we stopped at the Jacob Lake Inn and found they had only a couple of rooms still available. Since the place looked a little rustic to me, not in a charming way but more tired and worn, I asked to see a room. They refused to let me see one because they were still cleaning and it was before check-in time. So I asked if I booked the room and it wasn’t suitable whether they’d refund my money and they said no. All my suspicions were aroused but they had us over a barrel. There was literally nothing else for another 40 miles. We hoped for the best, booked the room sight unseen, and drove on to the North Rim.
We went directly to the visitor’s center.
With breathtaking views, the visitor center is a comfortable place to enjoy the moment and relax awhile, both inside and out.
The trail to Bright Angel Point was only 1/2 mile round-trip so we thought we’d take a quick look. Jim asked if I wanted to go back to the car to put on my hiking boots but I didn’t want to waste the time so off I went in my flip flops. Big mistake!
I saw our destination in the distance and captured it on the photo below. I cropped it so that you can see it better below that.
The trail was wide and paved at first. The views were a little hazy but impressively magnificent.
As the trail narrowed, the drop-offs seemed to get closer and I felt very unsteady walking in my flip flops. Finally, I had a full-blown panic attack and was unable to take any more photos. I kept inching along the trail and Jim tried to talk me through it. When we reached drop offs on both sides of the trail with no railings, I thought I wouldn’t be able to continue but somehow I did. When we got to the final outcropping in the photo above, I stayed back by the tree. Of course, now I regret it and I especially regret my lack of photos from Bright Angel Point. The lesson is: Wear your hiking boots!
After our hike to Bright Angel Point, safely back in the car (where I donned my hikers), we drove to Point Imperial, the highest elevation in the park at 8803 feet. Along the road, yellow aspens whispered and shimmered in the sunlight, displaying autumn splendor at its finest.
We returned to the visitor center in time to enjoy a romantic dinner outside on the patio while we watched the sunset. The food served on the patio is the same as the food in the restaurant but glass is not allowed outside so it’s packaged in styrofoam, not the best presentation but tasty nonetheless. Jim ordered the venison meatloaf which was delicious and I stuck with my usual salad.
Sunset did not end our experience at the North Rim. September 27, 2015, happened to be the night of a rare occurrence of a total lunar eclipse of a super full moon, and a blood moon at that.
My camera is really not suitable for photographing events like this but I did the best I could. We thought at first the clouds would prevent our sighting of the event but they passed.
It was a perfect ending to an extraordinary day. But wait, we still had to drive 45 miles back to Jacob Lake and check into our hotel room. After braking six times for numerous deer bounding onto the roadway, our nerves were frayed by the time we arrived. We were grateful not to have to drive any farther and my hotel room standards were lowered by each deer sighting. Happily, our room was fine and I can recommend a stay if you can’t get lodging in the park.
Based on events from September 2015.
I can’t believe you even went that far in flip flops! Holy smokes, Laura. I have been there and the trails are so narrow with scary drops I give you multiple high fives for doing what you did! So glad your accommodations ended up being okay in the end. That would have made a harrowing day even worse, Lovely photos as always.