We hopped on the bike for a great touring day to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (billed as the “quieter, more gentle rim of the canyon” since it gets far fewer visitors). We knew we were going to climb in elevation so wore full leathers, which was a very good decision! The roads to the Grand Canyon from our RV Park were not congested at all, and we had a wonderful ride through the cliffs and canyons where we are staying at 5800 feet, through the town of Kanab, and then quite quickly into a different type of land and vegetation, the high desert plains of northern Arizona. Here there were lots of sage and small shrubs, but not a lot of trees. After awhile though, we entered yet another ecological zone, the Kaibab National Forest, and we enjoyed the clean smells of the pinyon pines, juniper, spruce, aspens, fir, and pines. One part of the forest had been burned, but I have not had time to research how long ago – it looked fairly recent, since there was not much new growth. At the village of Jacob Lake, we gassed up and then rode another 25 miles to the national park entrance, but even after entering the park, it another 15 miles to get to the Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Lodge, which is located along the rim. The land on the way to the rim was partly forested and partly meadows – some of the meadows still had small patches of snow around their edges, and small throw rugs of snow also lay around many of the trees – it was very picturesque.
Although Fred and I have both been to the South Rim several times, it was still awe inspiring to stand at the North Rim and consider again how the Colorado River has carved this fantastic canyon over the past five million years! We enjoyed a short orientation film at the visitor’s center and also joined a ranger on the lodge porch, which overlooked the canyon, as he gave a short program about the geology of the canyon. We both started the walk out to Bright Angel Point, but about half way, Fred decided to return to the bike and wait for me. I gave him my chaps and jacket, since it was warming up by then, and continued out to the point for some awesome viewing time! Here the canyon drops 5,700 feet directly below, and the South Rim is ten air miles across the canyon. On his walk back, Fred saw a mule deer just lying in the brush right next to the hiking path, so I missed that, but I sure saw some beautiful sights as I gazed out over the canyon. We next rode out on a great twisty road to Point Imperial, which is, at 8805 feet in elevation, the highest location on this side of the canyon. We started to eat our picnic lunch while at the point, but a thunderstorm was coming in very quickly, so we packed up, geared up again, and headed back down the twisty road to the main road. We did get rained on but not too badly – we’ve certainly had much worse riding conditions in the past; we were actually more concerned about the lightning predicted, since the meteorologist had warned that the storm would have more lightning than rain.
On the route back to the ranch, we descended in elevation once again, and by the time we got to Kanab, we were quite ready to get rid of some of our layers of clothing once again. We visited Parry Lodge, a long time establishment in Kanab, where we learned that hundreds of film stars have stayed while making the over 100 movies and many television shows that have been filmed in the area. We plan to get some of the movie titles out of the library when we get home and watch them to see what scenery we recognize! Back at the ranch, we had new RV neighbors, from Huntington Beach, CA, and we enjoyed happy hour and visiting with them. One aspect of traveling we have discovered is that at an RV park, people join together for fellowship much more often than when staying at a motel or hotel, and we have enjoyed that.