I have been to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon twice but never to the South Rim. You don't just cross over the Grand Canyon from north to south: it is a mile-deep gash in the earth, 277 miles long with no bridges. It is a long way from the overlooks on the North Rim to the overlooks on the South Rim. Yes you can hike, but a mile down, about 10 miles across and a mile up is a rigorous hike. And presumably you'd have to go back to get to your car.
The South Rim is more accessible, meaning it is closer to big highways and cities and has many more hotels and restaurants. To reach the North Rim you take rather long roads across national forest lands. And the few cabins at the North Rim are often full, so without a reservation you may be driving back that evening.
Of course the drive to the North Rim is a reward in itself.
At the turnoff:
Beautiful pine and fir forests and peaceful lakes
Where it has been disturbed, aspen forest
Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon at the end of the trail was a bonus.
(Yeah, botanists get to work in some spectacular places).
|The Grand Canyon, from the North Rim|
|Within the Grand Canyon|
|Riding tour on a break.|
|within the Grand Canyon|
|View from the North Rim|
Canyons are rare, so when explorers and then settlers discovered the Grand Canyon, they were very impressed. It is not the world's largest, that is Tibet's Yarlung Tsangpo, and Africa has #2, Fish River Canyon, Namibia.
But the Grand Canyon of the Colorado is a spectacular sight. The rocks lie in brightly colored layers, the bottom is so far down as to be hard to see clearly, the canyon weaves out of sight without visible ending, condors soar below you, the air is fragrant with the smell of the old twisted pines and junipers, and wildflowers bloom in the grass.
|The trees frame the vista|
|Look, under the log, a larkspur (Delphinum sp.)|
In the particular case of the Grand Canyon, the state of Arizona has stepped in to keep Grand Canyon National Park open to visitors. This park is not closed.
Do plan for the conditions: cold in winter, hot in summer, moderately high elevation (above 6000'). Usually very dry.
This is a wonder of the world. See it when you can.
Comments and corrections welcome.
Grand Canyon National Park home page link
One of the best places to see a California condor is the Grand Canyon link
On the age of the Grand Canyon link
Great canyons of the world link
Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist
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