The first thing that got our attention as we drove into the Grand Canyon National Park on Tuesday, Oct. 13th was a herd of Bison calmly grazing in one of the meadows. We’d seen them in Yellowstone, but weren’t expecting them here.
It did make sense, as the climate is not so different from Yellowstone, and there are a number of meadows like this as you approach the canyon edge. I don’t know if they stay here through winter snows.
Here’s a model of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim Visitor Center showing some of the places we would go today. There are three main viewpoints. We’d already been to Bright Angel Point, and would return there, but first we took a side road that lead to Point Imperial (which I see I’ve mislabeled Imperial Point), and from there continued down to Cape Royal. Touring these areas took up most of our morning.
Like much of the North Rim, Point Imperial is at an elevation above 8000 feet, and it’s the highest place in the entire park. We noticed the elevation most when we were walking uphill, and the air had a clarity you don’t often get where we live.
We then drove to the Cape Royal parking lot and walked the half-mile or so trail. Along the way we came to a viewpoint overlooking Angel’s Window, a natural bridge. In a short while we were out on it ourselves, like the people you can barely see here. A tiny section of the Colorado River is visible through the window.
Ravens were the most common birds we saw and heard “karking” as they flew around us in the canyon. Here’s one with food on the Lodge roof. The Canyon is very quiet other than Raven calls and tourists talking.
Going into the lodge, we had a better look at the statue and exhibit about the wild burro “Brighty” made famous in the book “Brighty of the Grand Canyon” by Marguerite Henry, which Ellen and I both enjoyed as children. Wild burros were once common here, but were humanely relocated years ago because they were competing with native fauna. The mules that take people down into the Canyon are all domesticated and stabled nearby.
Tired of walking, we settled in these chairs on the East Porch for an hour or two, while listening to a Park Ranger behind us giving a talk about California Condors, now reintroduced to the area. Wish we’d seen one, but it didn’t happen.