Any trip to the Grand Canyon is worth it, long or short. It’s not the deepest, longest, or biggest – but it feels massive.
Our visit was an audible. We’d planned to make it a one-day excursion, but on the way to Antelope Canyon we realized we could spend the night, hit the North Rim on the way back, and add only two-and-a-half hours of driving instead of seven.
We were sold! Without a change of clothes or toiletries, we left our hotel in Page, Arizona and headed to this American icon.
The drive to the North Rim iss one of the prettier approaches to a National Park that I’ve been on. It’s a quiet drive through secluded, untouched landscape – pine forests, hills covered with wildflowers, and vast meadows all roll by as you head south from Jacob’s Lake.
My guess is those meadows are often filled with herds of buffalo for those lucky enough to drive through at the right time, but we didn’t see any.
Early on in the drive, our kids were struck by a forest recently decimated by fire and in the process of regrowing itself. The impact of a forest fire is hard to fully appreciate until you witness it in person. When there’s nothing but charred, jagged trees as far as the eye can see, the loss of decades of life wiped out in a matter of days is inescapable. The forest will come back, but probably not in our lifetimes, which is something that no one should feel bad for mourning over.
Bright Angel Trail
With young children, a hike deep into the canyon wasn’t in the cards, so we struck out on the super-short Bright Angel Point trail that leaves right from the Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim.
It’s only a half mile round trip, paved, and has little elevation change, but check your fear of heights at the door. Bright Angel Point is a narrow peninsula of land that juts out into the canyon. This is just like a ridge hike – which means it’s a long way down to the left and to the right. We kept a close eye on our kids, because the only railings on the trail are at the overlook at the end.
From there, we saw amazing views of Bright Angel Canyon, Walhalla Plateau, Zoroaster Temple and the South Rim. The coolest part of the Grand Canyon are all the layers – so many colors packed into too many striations to count. If you’re adventurous or have kids who love giving you gray hairs, better looks at all of these things can be had by scrambling onto some of the outcroppings and rocky rises along the trail.
After you’re done, make sure to visit the Grand Canyon Lodge. It was built in the 20s and is an iconic part of the park in its own right. There’s a massive room with floor to ceiling windows and lots of seating for a break and to take in views of the canyon. We stopped in the little café outside the main lodge, grabbed some ice cream, and sat on log chairs on the balcony.