Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From Zion to the North Rim

Ned and Joe Show Off the Sign For the North Rim

Since we slept in the car we were up early. This was good because I was worried about getting a campsite at the Grand Canyon North Rim campground. I had tried to reserve a spot but it was full, drat.

Leaving Zion National Park we stopped to hike the short Canyon Overlook Trail just passed the exit the of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Tunnel. The trail is an easy quick mile roundtrip with fenced off drop-offs that ends at a spectacular viewpoint of lower Zion Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon. One of the advantages of being there so early is that we got to watch the sun rise over the canyon and color the landmarks.

After our hike we made a quick stop to see the Checkerboard Mesa. Its horizontal lines were created by sediments were laid down as sand dunes. The vertical grooves come from joints cracking because of the slowly changing pressures on the rock as it was buried and exhumed. Weathering by rainwash and freeze-and-thaw cycles brought the grooves out in relief. Just down the road we made an unexpected stop as a herd of bighorn sheep were in the middle of the road. There were about 12 ewes and their young. Ned spotted a ram on the hillside nearby.

Sunrise Over the West Temple at Zion National Park

Ned and Joe Look Over the Zion's Overlook Trail

Our Last Look at Zion Canyon

Moon Flowers by the Road

A Bighorn Sheep

The Checkboard Mesa

The rest of the drive was more uneventful though a coyote ran across in front of us. We arrived at the North Rim park entrance of Grand Canyon National Park around 10:30 am and found that indeed all of the campsites were taken. We decided to drive to the campground just in case someone had canceled. On the way we passed a herd of buffalo grazing alongside of the road. There were truly no spaces at the campground. We made a quick visit at the Grand Canyon Lodge and then headed back out of the park to find a place to set up camp.

Just north of the park entrance in Kaibab National Forest is the DeMotte campground but dispersed camping is also allowed. A ranger at the visitor center recommended camping near one of the national forest points. We decided to try Timp Point.

The road to Timp Point is a logging road through a ponderosa pine forest and offers at its end a panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. On the way we saw mule deer and wild turkeys. We found a good spot to set up camp but decided against camping there. It took about 45 minutes to get back to the main road and I wanted to spend some time at the lodge and hike some of the trails near there. Also I was not prepared for a lack of toilet facilities. So we headed back and got a campsite at DeMotte campground. We had a quick dinner of hotdogs and then headed back to the Grand Canyon Lodge.

The first Grand Canyon Lodge was built in 1928 and burned down in 1932. A new one was built in 1937 and this time with grand windows overlooking Bright Angel Point. Perched on the edge of the canyon it offers magnificent views from those grand windows and two large porches that are the perfect spot to relax at the end of the day.

Inside the lodge there is a bronze sculpture of Brighty of the Grand Canyon made famous by Marguerite Henry's story in 1953. Brighty, a small burro, was real and lived at Grand Canyon from 1892 until 1922. He was named Bright Angel after the creek that flowed into the Canyon but everyone called him Brighty. Though a wild creature who roamed the canyon at will he was tolerant of children, who would ride on his back for hours. Most of the events and people in the novel were based on facts such as Brighty had helped build the new suspension bridge over the Colorado river at the bottom of the Canyon and was the first to cross it. He also did meet Theodore Roosevelt. Legend has it that a rub on the nose of the sculpture brings good luck. We all rubbed it.

After visiting Brighty we walked out to Bright Angel Point , a quick half mile from the lodge with some great views. When we got back to the lodge we found a seat and wrote postcards as we watched the sun set over the canyon.

Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Rub His Nose for Luck

The West Porch at the Grand Canyon Lodge Comes With Great Views

The Canyon From the West Porch of the Lodge

The View From Bright Angel Point

Storm Brewing to the East

The Grand Canyon Lodge

Sunset Over the Grand Canyon

Zion National Park, UT to Grand Canyon National Park North Rim, AZ, 197 miles 5 hrs 41 min

No comments: