My travels around the world


Grand Canyon, the North Rim

Both Åke and I had been to the Grand Canyon before, both on separate travels, but both of us to the South Rim. The North Rim however always attracted me, and as we were planning a new travel to Arizona and Utah, I immediately added a visit to the North Rim to the itinerary! And what I wanted the most, is seeing the sunrise in the Canyon.

All the photos in the collage below are clickable, so you can view the larger photo.

Grand Canyon, North Rim, USA

We leave Las Vegas for our long long drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. A trip of 265 miles in total, but it goes smoothly and we arrive at the Grand Canyon in the early afternoon. And full of anticipation we reach the park sign, will it live up to the expectations?

The Grand Canyon is something amazing, and nothing can really prepare you for the experience of seeing it in real life. When driving to the Grand Canyon I noticed that the landscape is rather flat; nothing really that forwarned me of being so close to the Canyon. I expected to see mountains, and within these mountains a Canyon forming. But not here. No, here I was taken by surprise, and amazement.
All of a sudden it is there; this immense Canyon.... right in front of me, straight down in the landscape a Canyon of 1.6 km depth.

I have seen the Canyon in photos, in films, and even with my own eyes many years before at the South Rim. But nothing prepares you for the view in real life, and no photo can fully capture that feeling (Although of course I tried during my trip, lol, taking so many photos!). But this place is so immense that it is mind-boggling and simply overwhelming. How cliché this all might sound.

We got a great spot for our tent, right at the rim of the Canyon! Probably we were able to secure this spot by booking really early (The reservations opens 6 months in advance).
I only had to take 2 steps and I looked directly into the Canyon, amazing! The tent had to fit into the designated area ( I think it was 16 ft x 16 ft), otherwise you cannot reserve this spot. But as you can see, that was no issue for us.

An absolute advantage of visiting the North Rim is the amount of visitors. It is much quieter and has a much less hectic atmosphere here compared to the South Rim, as only 10% of the total amount of visitors go to the North Rim.

After we put up our tent, and enjoying the spectacular view from our campsite, it was time to go for a short hike. And the most obvious one was the "Transept Trail", starting right here at our campground.

It is a 4,8 km round-trip; 1,5 hours approximate hiking time. It follows the canyon rim from the North Rim Campground to the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Transept Trail

The North Rim is at a higher altitude as you might think: at approx. 2500 meters. And this also means that during winter months, the North Rim closes because of the amount of snow (it is open mid-May through mid-October). The North Rim is also higher in altitude in comparison with the South Rim, which is at approx. 2100 meters.

The vastness of the Canyon is obviously striking. But for me the geology is just as fascinating. Seeing all the layers, colours and rock formations is beautiful and fascinating.

And with the light of the sun changing during the day, the Canyon is seemingly ever changing as well. Highlighting new places that previously were hidden in the shade, and the colours continuesly changing and deepening hues.

Brahma and Zoroaster Temple at sunset

The moon is slowly rising over the horizon, while the sun is setting over the Grand Canyon. It is the perfect end of a perfect day. We light the campfire at the tent at the very edge of the Canyon, what a spectacular place to camp! Tomorrow it will be early days, when we hopefully see the sunrise over the Canyon.

The sunrise

It is early morning, very early morning. It is still dark outside while we silently sneak out of our tent to get ready for todays highlight: seeing the sunrise over the Grand Canyon.

We silently walk with our torches lit to the Bright Angels Point, a trail that start at the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, not far from our camping site. The trail is paved, but in the semi-dark it feels a bit scary walking here, knowing that the steep drop-offs ino the Canyon is only a tiny step to the left or right from where we are walking. At the end of the trail, the view opens over Bright Angel Canyon and we wait in anticipation until the sun will start lighting up the walls of the Grand Canyon.

Slowy, very very slowly the sun start to light up the Canyon walls. I sit here with my camera and see the play of the sunlight on the walls unfold in front of my eyes. And it is just a magical experience.

It is so quiet, as the few people that are here just are amazed by the show unfolding in front of us. The photos above just don't do this magical sunrise justice, and I wish I could share it with you in a better way. If you ever get the chance to see the sunrise over the Canyon, then don't doubt, do it!

view of Mt. Hayden from Point Imperial, highest overlook in the park at 2,683 meters

Wontans Throne near Cape Royal

Angels Window, along the trail to Cape Royal

When the sun gets up for real over the horizon the warm colour of the sun fades quickly. The light gets harsher and harsher and isn't the friendliers anymore for the camera. So if you would like to take photos of the Canyon, make sure you do it as early as you can before the 'magical' light disappears.

The views however are as stunning as always. And Åke has a hard time dragging me from the Canyon Rim. During the day we visit a number of viewpoints. All just us fantastic in my opinion. But at the late afternoon we have to call it a day, we need to move on to our next stop on our trip through the SouthWest of the USA.

I wish I had another morning at the North Rim, and another of these magical sunrises.....

Upon arrival I wondered if the North Rim would live up to my expectations? And all I can answer is a full-heartedly yes! That sunrise was something special and I wouldn't have wanted to miss that for the world!

Simone & Åke, Grand Canyon, Utah, USA, September 2010



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:-) Simone


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