At the end of our climb up the North Kaibab Trail, we spent the night on the North Rim and ended up having a very nice evening. So, I wanted to put together a short post on that.
While not nearly as developed as the South Rim, the North Rim has some good amenities and these are divided between the camping area and the lodge area.
As soon as we had rested up a little at the trailhead, we hiked the .7 mi path to the campgrounds. There is an office, of course, where you must check in and rent your campsite. We asked for the hiker/biker area, which was $6 per tent as opposed to $18 per site for all the other campsites. Since none seemed to have electricity, we didn’t think we were missing anything. It turns out that the hiker/biker area is out on a finger (not sure what to call it) of the rim with fantastic views. (See the view at sunrise below.) The only negative was that we were about 150 yards from restrooms and fresh water, but that really wasn’t a big deal. We set up the tents and stowed the rest of the gear and then headed to the camp store.
The camp store was much, much smaller than the store at the South Rim. In fact, I’d classify the South Rim store as a decent full grocery store, plus decent outfitter, plus gift shop, plus deli. The camp store on the North Rim had groceries, outdoor gear, and gifts, only much less of it. However, it was fine for the few, small things that we needed. (I had brought trail mix for snacks throughout the day that was more sweet than salty and I was there to buy salty snacks. No problem.)
In addition to the office and camp store, the campground area also boasted a combination laundry and showers, but we didn’t take advantage of this because of time. (I ended up taking a decent cowboy bath in the sink of the camp restroom.)
At this time, we headed toward the North Rim Lodge, which was a 1.2 mi hike along a path. The lodge area contains quite a few amenities. There are dozens of cabins on the path leading up to the lodge and they seemed to be quite popular as we saw people coming in and out of them frequently. The lodge itself has a restaurant that seems quite popular since the wait time seemed to be over an hour. There is also a saloon and a deli. I had talked to a Park Ranger down on the trail that day who had actually recommended pizza and beer on the back deck at sunset so that was our goal.
It took a bit to find out how to put that together; I know, it sounds trivial. But the thing is, while you can order pizza by the slice at the saloon, you can only order a whole pizza at the deli. And you can’t get beer at the deli. So, we ordered the pizza and settled into the saloon to enjoy a beer while it cooked. Once the pizza was ready, we grabbed the beers, water, pizza, napkins, etc. and headed to the back deck of the lodge. This deck is very cool with plenty of Adirondack chairs for relaxing and small tables for eating, drinking, or socializing.
If you go out a trail a little ways and down a couple of flights of stairs, there is a scenic view spot hanging out over the canyon called Bright Angel Point. We ducked down there to take a few pictures of the sunset.
After enjoying the sunset for a while we occupied a couple of the Adirondack chairs to chill for a while hanging our feet over the North Rim.
After that, it was 1.2 mi back to the campgrounds in the dark. There was firewood at the campsite courtesy of the National Park Service; they put a load at each site for the winter hikers to use since the entire North Rim is closed. However, we were both tired and just crawled into the tents. The wind was really crazy up there but it posed no threat to us so it served more to lull us into sleep. Quite nice.
The next morning, I got up a 4:30 and had a full breakfast while watching the sunrise.
Please stay tuned for Day 3, the descent back down the North Kaibab Trail.