From the Vermillion Cliffs to the North Rim

May 27, 2011

Leaving Marble Canyon on our desert circuit from the South Rim to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we are on Hwy 89A which skirts south of the Vermillion Cliffs and across the desert again to reach Jacob Lake, Kaibab Lodge and the North Rim.

Darla and Ashleigh with a last view of the Navajo Bridge before we head off westward across the desert.

We drove away from Marble Canyon, skirting southward and then west around the wall that is called the Vermillion Cliffs. Because they are backlighted, they do not appear so brilliant here, but in direct sunlight they are dramatically red.

We now make a beeline directly across the desert for about 30 miles.

Always on our right are the dramatic red cliffs.

At this point the road was straight until it faded from our view.

Now catching the afternoon sun, the Vermillion Cliffs almost glowed red across the desert.

Finally, in the distance, we see the road depart from its straight beeline and begin to curve up the tree-dotted hills. We start up the slopes and find an overlook that we remember from 1982 and stop to look back across this expanse of desert.

We have just come across about 30 miles of desert that you can see in the background. In the distance, 30 to 50 miles away are the Vermillion Cliffs. We could look down on the desert road that we had just crossed and see vehicles that looked like ants crawling across the desert. This is one of our most memorable long vistas.

Look for the barely discernable straight track across the desert - an incredibly straight line across 30 miles. You can see one car toward the left as a black speck on the road, and there is a second near the middle.

We are now climbing rapidly, winding our way up the green slopes. From this higher vantage point we can still see the long straight road across the desert.

This is a view toward the north, as compared to the eastward view before. We can see the flat plane of the desert coming to a point between the rising highlands of the Vermillion Cliffs on one side and the green scrubland of the highlands we are now entering.

We gained a lot of altitude as we approached Jacob Lake and turned south on Hwy 67. We went through an extended burn area - from a fire in 2002 we were told. We came out of that area into pleasant meadows and green forested hillsides. Then the girls spotted some patches of white in the edges of the woods, and we had to stop to investigate.

The presence of small snow patches in the woods led to full scale snowball fights.

Elyse gets right into the action as well.

Jordan launches a big slushy one.

Elyse makes good her escape to our cars that are parked by the road. Then she brings her bear Cally to see the snow.

Elyse may have been running in the battle, but she's hard to beat in the "cute" department.

This photo shoot calmed things down enough that we could head on toward the Kaibab Lodge to check on our housing for the night.

Good timing! Just as we pulled out a police vehicle met us and wheeled around to where we were parked to see what we had been doing I suppose. But he didn't come after us.

We drove beside a large meadow and at the back side it we saw a half dozen deer grazing. Driving to the end of that meadow we found the Kaibab Lodge nestled in the edge of the forest. While Brenda was checking us in at the Lodge, we found an unmelted snowbank on the walkway. They told us it had snowed there last week.

Jeff's group made a run across the meadow to explore the woods behind the lodge. Probably the girls were looking for more snow.

Brenda sits on the front porch of our unit. It is one-fourth of this cabin and consists of a tiny bedroom and bathroom. It had a gas stove, which we needed during the night because it went probably near freezing. That is our big Yukon squeezed in beside the cabin. Jeff and family were in one of the narrow, long cabins which made one bigger unit. It had a tiny room in front with a couch which was the best place we had for Mark to sleep. Darla quipped that this was their brother-in-law suite.

We drove down to the North Rim, which was about 23 miles from Kaibab Lodge.

Our Senior Lifetime passes to the National Parks got us all in to any National Park.

We had parked in the visitor parking lot and walked through the North Rim village and to the North Rim Lodge.

We wanted to get a picture of the girls with the brass mule, partly because we had taken a picture of Jeff and Mark with it in 1982.

We had planned to have dinner in the dining room, but when we arrived at 5:30 the next available seating was after 8pm. So we settled for pizza in a side restaurant.

We got this view of the Grand Canyon, North Rim right behind the North Rim Lodge. We had come with the plan to stay for sunset, and it was now 6:30pm. A surprise in this picture is our old friends the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff sticking their heads up in the center background!

Ashleigh and Jordan at a North Rim viewpoint just behind the Lodge. The San Francisco Peaks are just beside their heads.

Shadows of the lowering sun on the Canyon.

The views above were just down the back steps of North Rim Lodge and out on the point. The Lodge sits right on the edge of the Canyon. I love the trees there, especially in the late afternoon sun.

Elyse on the North Rim. The San Francisco peaks are showing over the Canyon rim directly over her head.

The sun was bright, but the evening was cool, making a light jacket welcome on the rim of the Canyon.

We were looking for a place where we might sit and watch the sunset, so we followed the trail that went along the rim just behind the Lodge.

In this view and the one below, we are at another viewpoint along that trail.

We found a place with a log seat and a good view of the Canyon, so we settled in to watch the sunset colors in t he Canyon.

It was getting dark and it looks like Elyse is getting sleepy, although Darla could liven her up. We got to thinking about the narrow trails and no flashlight, so we decided to call it a day and head back to Kaibab Lodge. It had been an eventful day, coming all the way around the Canyon from the South Rim. We looked forward to more exploration of the North Rim tomorrow.

North Rim, Grand Canyon

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