May 15, 2015, the official opening day of the Grand Canyon North Rim, the first day of the year where a back-country pass is not required. It was snowing and sleeting, but that didn’t stop the 100’s of people that were flocking to the entrance gate trying to see the first view of the North Rim. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a much different atmosphere than the South Rim. Each year, 4.2 million people visit the South Rim while the North Rim has a significantly smaller number of visitors each year, about 450,000.
We arrived at the entrance of the North Rim Grand Canyon at about 7:20 Arizona time. The brochures and internet searches didn’t readily offer the time that the front gate would open, so we took our chances. After sitting at the gate for about 50 minutes, we slowly made our way through. There was no explanation from the park rangers as to why the line was moving as slowly as it was, but the bubbly park ranger did pass on her opening day excitement. We assumed the park didn’t officially open until 8:00, and with the line-up getting longer, they were slowly letting people in.
Despite the icy trails and persistent snow, nobody slid into the caverns below.
There are a few trails near the Lodge that we walked on, one of them leading to Bright Angel Point, a view from the edge of a cliff. Despite the icy trails and persistent sleet, nobody slid into the caverns below.
We took the drive to Point Imperial. At an elevation of 8,803 feet above sea level, this is the highest point of the Grand Canyon. Again, because of the weather, views were minimal, but on a sunny day I can only imagine what you can see.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offered the unique experience we were looking for. Instead of the tour buses, shuttles, and people scurrying around to find the best view, a rustic experience can still be found. Several folks sat in the window room of the lodge while sipping on hot tea, most of them silent. A young couple in the back of the room offered their own interpretation of the north rim. He played piano while she danced and swayed, their love for nature apparent.
The Grand Canyon is a vast and wonderful place. It’s impossible to be disappointed by a peek-a-boo view of one of the most spectacular places on earth.
More adventures tomorrow…