On a day’s notice we decided to detour to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive was a few hours, and we were treated to some excellent views. We even spotted a California Condor! The Grand Canyon has been on our list of places we must go to, and after a visit we quickly decided we needed to come back again – with our backpacking gear!
Where We Stayed
We camped at the North Rim campground for $18/night. We drove up without reservations hoping that due to the cold weather, someone would cancel theirs. We were in luck and there was “just one spot left” when we arrived (this seemed odd to us, as the campground was mostly empty that night). The campground was shutting down most of its services for the winter. We were able to use the laundry facility the day before it shutdown (thank goodness). The camp store also closed for the season during our stay. The campground had assigned spots but was primitive (no hookups). We have been getting used to boon docking, and love our solar panels to give us the boost we need. The campsite was only a 5-minute drive from the visitor center and lodge.
What We Did
We arrived in the late afternoon at camp. Once we set up camp, we drove to the visitor center to get information. I was quite surprised at how packed the area was. We found out it was the lodge’s last day of operation and most people were leaving town on Monday. The visitor center was a bit smaller than I expected, and the employees were not very happy to help, but nonetheless, I got a map and a guide to help us over the next few days. It wasn’t a big surprise that Sparky was not allowed on any of the main trails, just a minor trail between the campground and the visitor center. Poor Sparky was going to be stuck in the car doing scenic driving.
We started the main scenic driving toward Cape Royal. The drive had several stops and overlooks. The last lookout, Cape Royal was 23 miles from the visitor center. It took us over two hours to get there with all the stops and pictures. Nothing quite prepared me for how massive the Grand Canyon is. I didn’t really have any idea. The past few canyons we have seen I thought were impressive, but upon seeing the Grand Canyon I was blown away. We made it to Cape Royal by sunset. With about 20 other people, we were treated to a special view.
Sparky had a bit of trouble sleeping that night. There were some loud people at the campsite, some odd animal sounds, and he was probably a bit stir crazy. It took us forever to get him to potty and to eventually settle into sleep. Needless to say, no one got deep sleep that night.
The next morning we took Sparky on the short hike to the visitor center, round-trip was just over 2 miles. We then left the National Park area to head to Kaibab National Forest. Our Camp representative gave us a few options for dog friendly trails in the forest area. We were able to do a canyon rim trail with him for a bit as well as the Arizona scenic trail. We spent a few hours with him hoping to tire him out so we can all get a better sleep that night. We made it back to camp just in time for sunset. Sparky still wouldn’t settle or calm down, so I stayed in the trailer with him while Steve went out to get some more sunset photos. They are of course spectacular.
Our time at the Grand Canyon was over as quick as it started, but seeing as we couldn’t do any of the trails with Sparky we couldn’t see why we should stay longer. Our goal is to return to the Grand Canyon South Rim and do some backpacking into the rim. Maybe the Rim to Rim Challenge?
On our way to Utah we had one more stop – Pipe Spring National Monument. This was a quick stop for us that included a picnic on site. The site is a little interesting. Pipe Spring is in the middle of a high dessert, but there is a water source on the property from rain/snowfall that flows down layers of rock to the base of the Vermillion cliffs. Water draws people. Humans have inhabited this place since 300 BC. From Paiute tribes, Spanish missionaries and finally Mormon pioneers. Mormon ranchers created it into a working Ranch. By 1860s the Mormons and Navajo tribe were having battles over land and livestock. In 1866 the owner of the Pipe Spring ranch was killed during one of these raids. Also interesting, the ranch became a hideout for polygamous wives after federal laws were passed making this practice illegal. Today, the monument is on the Kaibab Indian Reservation, with both NPS and the Tribe running the visitor center. The ranch is quite small but we found the history to be fascinating.