Arizona 2012

Sunday the 19th, 2012

Grand Canyon - South Rim Day

Up and at em. On the road at a decent time and heading north on Route 64 towards the south rim. Not long after leaving Williams there appears an unusual peak looming up ahead. Red Butte, standing at 7324', a most enticing looking peak with "bucket list" written all over it.

A couple of hours later and a stop to see the IMAX film we have arrived. Walking up the path and rounding the corner just below the Mather Point Amphitheater and all one can say is WOW. It is amazing and awe inspiring, no words or pictures can ever describe the vast beauty of it.

Two hours later (in between a quick back to the car to grab my hiking boots because I wanted to climb out on some viewpoints) we came to Yavapai Point where with the assistance of some visitor info boards I located the Grand Canyon Lodge on the other side where we would be pending the night.

Another hour later and we arrive at Verkamp's Visitor Center and it is time to eat and think about heading towards the North Rim. A shuttle bus ride back to the car and a quick drive over to Market Plaza and it's feeding time.

After a very satisfying meal and it is now time to start the long (209 miles only 4 hours and 36 minutes with no stopping) drive over tot he North Rim. Shortly after leaving the South Rim Visitor Center and just past Yaki Point there are cars lined up on both sides of 64. Nakita sees animals in the woods and as we slow down neither Lisa or I see anything. We pull over and finally see why everyone stopped. In the woods (unlike the woods here these trees are spaciously placed)the are elk, one male, two females and youngling. Hiked 48 4000 footers and haven't seen a deer or moose on the trail but one day at the Grand Canyon and I see elk.

Lots of stops later and we reach the end arriving at the East Entrance and heading on 64 to Route 89. As we are coming down the mountains Lisa wants to make a stop at the Indian booths along the road and there is one more vista and not sure what it is or what to expect. Nakita and Lisa stop at the booths and I continue down the dirt road for good half mile until I reach a vantage point. Another WOW moment! I you go to Google Earth and follow Route 64 about halfway between the Eats Visitor Center and Route 89 look for RD 6140. at the end of this very rural road is the Little Colorado River Gorge or a small piece of it anyways. It is truly amazing with its steep cliffs and the depth down to the riverbed. I walked around the whole area and waited for the girls to finally come down not wanting them to miss this.

Walking back up the "road" I turned around and the sun hit something way off in the distance. At the time I was not sure of what it was but a few days later discovered it was the Vermilion Cliffs locate about 60 miles away as the crow flies.

Seeing how it was close to sun setting time we waited the fifteen minutes at the top by the car.

Back in the car and the drive continues. Left turn onto Route 89 and the night sky is slowly bringing on the darkness that would make for an even longer drive. The roads out here are very straight and with not much civilization around no lights from street lamps or towns. An hour later and another left hand turn this time onto 89A. The funny thing is when we turned the elevation was about 5200' and when we finally crossed the Colorado River we were at 3600'. Now I knew that the North Rim sits around 8200' so we kept looking at each other as we saw the signs noting the elevation and it kept dropping. The closer we were getting to the North Rim we knew we would have to make up that elevation gain in a hurry. Once crossing the Colorado River the road began to straighten out and it was a long straight drive and not having a clue as to where we were and it being so dark it was quite the surreal ride. At one point we came across an area where we could faintly make out what looked like to be boulders on the side of the road. I chalked them up to maybe being glacial erratics (not sure if the glacial ice sheets ever made it this far down) and Lisa thought they were put there for tourists. What seemed like forever but ended up being a little over a half hour after crossing the river we came upon a sign with the 180° turn and the climb was on up the curving dark road. Probably a good thing it was dark so Lisa couldn't see what was or wasn't over the edge. We would finally top out at about 7800' climbing 2300' in just 13 miles before turning south onto Route 67, the final stretch to the North Rim. An hour later (10:30 PM) and reaching an altitude above 8800' at one point and we are at the Grand Canyon Lodge. The only problem being where was the lodge? We pulled into the parking lot and there is very little, and I stress little, lighting and no signs pointing to the lodge in order to check in. Grabbing our suitcases and we wander around looking for any signs of the lodge and finally see what has to be it. Long and short of it is we stayed in a log cabin that used to two cabins within one structure until they removed the wall in between and added a bathroom on one end. NO TV and NO INTERNET. Rustic, I appreciated it but Lisa did not.

Time for sleep and see what tomorrow brings.