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Living on the Edge—North Rim of the Grand Canyon

- Nick

Hi! I’m Nick, from New York, and this summer I’ll be taking you through a tour of the national parks. For my entire life my family has been traveling to national parks, from Yellowstone to the canyons to Denali to the Great Lakes. The sights to see and the experiences to have are precious, and the national parks are a constant reminder of just how awesome (in all senses of the word) nature is.

In the spirit of starting out big, why not start out with the Grand Canyon? One of the largest canyons in the world, the Grand Canyon is located in Arizona, with the national park founded in 1919. There are two rims to the canyon, and both are accessible, although the South Rim is the one that most end up visiting. I’m going to concentrate on the North Rim today: while the South Rim is far more popular, I find the North Rim to be a more personal experience. The North Rim of the canyon is about 1,000 feet higher than the South, so it’s a lot cooler and there are forests.

The only lodging consists of several cabins, built on the rim. There are varying types of cabins, ranging in price and size. We opted for the Pioneer cabins, and what was excellent about them (and their step up, the Westerns) was the fact that several of them had windows facing directly onto the canyon. Staying overnight requires booking thirteen months in advance, so if you plan on going, be sure to plan ahead!

The lodge is built into the side of the cliff, with a sunroom that looks directly onto the canyon. The sunroom has a 180 degree view of the canyon. It’s the first time you truly get to see the canyon from the North Rim, and the picture is simply spectacular. The lodge also has two verandas on the front of the building on either side of the sunroom, and the scene is similarly amazing.

During the day, mule rides are available to go down the canyon, but be warned—if anyone in the group is younger than 10, you can only go for an hour along the rim. The half day mule rides go down to Supai Tunnel or to Uncle Jim’s Point. The rides themselves are definitely worth it: you’re right on the edge of the canyon trail, and looking across the canyon to the South Rim is as easy as turning your head. The mules are surefooted, so you’re not worrying for your life (although my mom’s turned out to be a little edge-happy).

If mules aren’t your thing, hiking is an option as well: Bright Angel Point is a half-hour hike away along the rim, and what you see is something else. For those who are a bit more adventurous, hiking down into the canyon is also a possibility, but remember that the mules have the right of way!

For dinner, the Canyon Lodge has a beautiful dining room, with floor-to-ceiling windows displaying the canyon. But for the sunset, nothing beats the veranda outside the sunroom. Getting a seat on the hickory rocking chairs available can be tricky, but the sunset is excellent no matter where you are.

At night, all the lights are turned off, so it’s a good idea to bring a flashlight. But if you want to stargaze, keep the flashlight off—with no lights on at all, the night sky is unfiltered and simply beautiful. The Milky Way is clear as day, and shooting stars are easily visible.

All in all, the Grand Canyon deserves its status as wonder of the world, whichever rim you visit. Just remember to watch your step!

Click HERE to visit the Grand Canyon website.

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