The North Rim was closed for the winter season when we passed through April 2016 on our trek North to Alaska. So our last visit to the North Rim was nearly 20 years ago (we treated my Grandma to a Las Vegas vacation for her 70th birthday and day-tripped to the Canyon). Therefore, we decided it was high time we took the 4+ drive to revisit Grand Canyon North.
We stopped at the Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center along the way. The bridge over the Colorado, constructed 1927-1929, was quite an engineering feat for its time. Using 2.4 million pounds of steel and 500 cubic yards of concrete, the bridge spanned 834 feet with a maximum height of 467 feet from the Canyon floor, all at a cost of $390,000. A new bridge was built in 1995 for vehicular traffic (at the whopping price tag of $14.7 million!), leaving the original bridge for pedestrian and equestrian use only.
The New Navajo Bridge, Built 1995, for modern-day vehicles
The original Navajo Bridge, on left, is now used for pedestrian/equestrian crossings
View of the Colorado from the Navajo Bridge
We marveled at the beautiful colors of the rock formations as we traversed through Marble Canyon. And in Cliff Dwellers, we were astonished at the size of the fallen rocks, some the size of Big Boomer!
As we continued our trek, there were just miles and miles of open range and meadows surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Suddenly, we encountered boreal forests and the fresh scent of conifers, pine trees, and aspens. We knew we were fast approaching the North Rim National Park entrance.
We visited several lookout points like Wahalla, Roosevelt, and Bright Angel Point, as well as Point Imperial, which holds the distinction of the highest elevation at the North Rim (8,803 feet). It towers 1,000+ feet above Navajo Point, the highest elevation at the South Rim.
We stopped at Cape Royal lookout, home to Angel’s Window, a gap within the rock formation that acts as a picture frame. We also viewed Unkar Delta from Cape Royal. Unkar means red stone in the Paiute language. So the Delta, where Ancestral Puebloans lived and farmed centuries ago, is named appropriately for the cinnamon-colored rocks that surround it.
Angel's Window at Cape Royal. Don't try doing this, folks! This is a feat reserved for a stuffed rat!
Unkar Creek and Unkar Delta
The flowering plants at the North Rim were in full bloom!
I became ravenous from all the driving and walking we did. Time to chow down at the Chuck Wagon Buffet at the Grand Canyon Lodge. The North Rim is far less developed than the South Rim, offering a more rustic, natural, and serene environment. The Lodge dates back to 1937, when it was built to replace the original “Hotel in the Wilderness” that burned to the ground in 1932.
Statue of Brighty the Burro, the beloved character in the children's book "Brighty of the Grand Canyon"
We arrived by 5 p.m. and got a nice table by the window overlooking the Canyon. The buffet had an adequate selection of salad items, meats, and starches including my favorite mac and cheese! It was a meat lovers’ paradise, with a beef brisket to die for! Hand-rubbed with seasoning and slow-cooked for 16 hours, it just melted in your mouth! What a wonderfully delectable treat (especially after the disappointing brisket at Big Daddy’s in Fairbanks last year). At $27/adult and $10/kids, they surely lost money on us with all the brisket we ate! And Sharon from Iowa, our waitress, only charged the $10 kids fee for me, saving me some of my allowance to spend on Laughing Cow cheese!
Beef Brisket, slow cooked 16 hours! So juicy and tender! I'm salivating as I'm writing this!
After dinner, we sat on the patio enjoying a cocktail and taking in the gorgeous Canyon views. I was joined by a local “resident”, wanting me to share a snack with him! I was sorry to disappoint him, but I complied with the rules of “no feeding the wildlife”.
The South Rim was having itself quite a storm on the other side of the Colorado, and we noticed storm clouds rolling in on the North Rim as well. So we headed indoors.
Our employer, the Grand Canyon Association, has two retail stores at the North Rim, so we popped in to catch a glimpse of life on the “other side”. What a relaxed atmosphere! They deal with a fraction of the guests that visit the South Rim Stores. We witnessed no chaos or bad behavior like we see at the two stores where my parents work, which are the largest in size AND in sales volume within the entire GCA 8-store operation. I didn’t believe my Mom when she said how destructive and rude people were until I saw it for myself when accompanying my parents to work one day! Which leads me to Rambling RV Rat’s Rant on Retail Shoppers:
...Teach your children to see with their eyes, not with their hands. Retail stores are NOT the go-touch me museum!
...Teach your children a store is a place of business, NOT their personal playground. Climbing on displays or sitting in the middle of the sales floor reading a book pulled off the shelf while picking your nose is NOT acceptable behavior.
...Adults should lead by example; actions speak louder than words. You can’t tell your children not to destroy things when you do it yourself! If you pick something up off a shelf, return it to the place you found it. Handle things with care to avoid breakage.
...Don’t give your baby a stuffed toy to appease him/her when shopping. They drool on it, wipe snots on it, and basically contaminate it with germs and you have the audacity to put it back on the shelf for some unsuspecting buyer to actually purchase!
...When we ask if you need help with T-shirt sizes, don’t say “no”, wait for us to leave, and then destroy the display by pulling every shirt off the shelf or out of its sleeve.
...When we greet you and ask “how are you doing today?”, be courteous enough to offer a curt reply. Even a grunt would be welcome, anything to acknowledge our meager existence and the fact that we spoke to you.
...I don’t care what the customs are in your country. When in Rome, do like the Romans! In the USA, we go to the BACK of the check-out line—no cutting in front of others.
...If I am speaking with another customer, don’t interject abruptly, asking “do you sell water?”, “where’s the toilet?”, etc. If you are to the point of dehydration or wetting your pants, at least say “excuse me” before interrupting!
Sorry, I digressed…
It was time to start our long trek back to the South Rim. There were lots of deer in the meadows as we exited the Park at the North Rim. We stopped at the Jacob Lake Inn, an old school motor lodge and curio shop about 40 miles outside the North Rim Exit gate. It also housed a nostalgic luncheonette counter style restaurant with red and chrome swivel stools, complete with an ice cream stand and bakery. It was no easy feat, but I found room in my swelled belly for a tasty chocolate parfait cookie!
Sadly, another “weekend” is over. I leave you with yet another spectacular sunset pic from July 27!