The Zion and Bryce legs of our trip complete, the plan for the next day was to check out from our Hurricane-based motel and return to central Arizona or our base in Phoenix, depending on where we were, and when we were there! Though we had gotten back only at about 1 am thanks to the deer scare, we needed to leave as early as possible the next morning.
Our plan was to visit Grand Canyon National Park first. If we were close enough to the North Rim early enough in the day, we would visit it. If not, we would skip it and head straight for the South Rim. We had an option to take the scenic Zion-Mt Carmel highway once more, but the experience from the previous day – it took a long time to get through – shot that option down very quick.
The only other alternative was to take SR59 to SR389, to US89 to Flagstaff (see map). I had hoped to spot the turn-off to the Waves, but missed them during both inbound and outbound drives. Maybe on a future trip …
Jacobs Lake in AZ is the point from where SR67 branches off into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I figured that if we were there by noon or so, we could visit the North Rim, spend some time there, then continue on to the South Rim and Flagstaff. We got there in time, and decided to visit the North Rim.
Because it is more remotely located – compared to the South Rim – for most travellers who come via Phoenix at least, the North Rim is definitely less visited and has less facilities. However, it does have a nice lodge with a spot for visitors to sit and take in the scenery right off the Grand Canyon’s rim. If you are travelling with senior citizens, this is the best place – bar none – to visit and watch the Canyon (there are many other lookout points elsewhere on both North and South Rims and some that have better views, but this is the one place that requires minimal walking and you can sit in air-conditioned comfort).
When we got to the visitors’ center, we asked the nice folks there how long it would take to drive to the South Rim based on the current traffic conditions. We were informed that it would take about 4 hours. So, we decided that we would spend until about 2 pm in the area, then drive out so we could get to the South Rim in time for sunset scenery.
Here are some photos. Please note that photos do no justice to the Canyon, especially because they provide no depth perception. To be honest, even if you stand right at the canyon’s rim, it is downright impossible to gauge the depths, masked as it is with the seemingly interconnected canyon cliffs that are really separated by a mile or so! After all, one typically gets a sense of the depth only by contrasting the scenery with some (ideally manmade) object whose height is known, like a building. Having never been to the bottom of the canyon, I have not experienced the swiftness of the Colorado river, and from the rim, the river appears like a placid oxbow lake.