Grand Canyon North Rim Day Two

BisonImages © Todd Klein

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.

BisonPairIt 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.

CanyonModelHere’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.

PointImperialSignLike 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.

PointImperialWideFrom here you can look north across a plain to other distant and higher canyons and cliffs all feeding toward the Grand Canyon.

PointImperialFarCanyonThis closer shot gives a better look at that.

PointImperialWide2Looking east into the upper canyon itself. Despite clear air at the top, haze and smoke get trapped in the canyon making for the blue vistas.

PointImperialWide3The same spot looking south.

AngelsWindowWe 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.

CapeRoyalWideAt the end of the trail is an amazing view looking south toward the South Rim, with massive Wotan’s Throne in the foreground.

CapeRoyalTallAnother part of that view.

CapeRoyalRiverAnother small piece of the Colorado River in the distance, this is about all you can see of it from the North Rim, it’s closer to the South Rim.

EllenCapeRoyalEllen gets pictures. Not a great place if you’re afraid of heights, it’s a sheer drop beyond the railing.

CapeRoyalRocksThen there are folks who risk their lives for a photo…

LodgeNorthSideAfter exploring Cape Royal we drove back to the North Rim Lodge at Bright Angel Point for lunch and more exploring. This is the north side of the lodge facing the parking area.

CanyonViewWideThe views around Bright Angel Point are so wonderful. We walked the trails that run along each side of it, and one that cuts across between them.

AspenAmong the Ponderosa Pines, Junipers, and other conifers were a sprinking of Aspens turning gold.

AstersNot many flowers blooming in October, these Asters were the largest we saw.

PineBarkLarger Ponderosa Pines have beautiful, sculptural bark with a reddish tone.

LodgeViewpointJust in front of the Lodge is a small promontory with a viewpoint.

ToddEllenViewpointHere are Ellen and I on that viewpoint.

LodgeSouthSideLooking back at the Lodge’s south side from there, it sits on the Canyon edge.

RavenRooftopRavens 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.

ChipmunkHeading back to the Lodge I got a good photo of this Cliff Chipmunk before he disappeared over the side of the wall. Looking for snacks, but we had none.

BrightyGoing 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.

LodgeDiningRoomHere’s a look at the dining room where we’d eaten the previous night. Like many National Parks, the Lodge here is beautifully designed and historic.

EastPorchViewTired 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.

SunsetCanyonFrom there we enjoyed another sunset in the Grand Canyon before driving back to our cabin and dinner at Jacob Lake. Wednesday we would drive on to Bryce Canyon. Pictures from there next time.

 

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