October 11, 2009

North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

There are very few places as beautiful as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in October. The aspen are turning yellow within the beautiful mixed conifer forest of ponderosa pine, white fir, Engelmann Spruce, Colorado blue spruce, and Douglas fir. The contrast between the dense montane forest of 9,000 feet and the sheer cliffs of the Grand Canyon down to the river nearly 6,000 feet below are extraordinary.

Across the rim, which is 10 miles across, and in the distance are the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. These volcanoes stand over 12,000 feet high. It is such an interesting site to stand on the North Rim and look at the summit of the peaks knowing that I once stood on the summit of Humprey's Peak and viewed the North Rim from there. It puts things into perspective.

This is me pointing to the San Francisco Peaks

This is a view toward the North Rim from Humprey's Peak Summit taken in 2003. The Grand Canyon is the light colored streak in the far distance.

We decided to first check out Cape Royal, since we did not visit this view point the one previous time we had been to the North Rim. It is a 40 mile roundtrip from the visitor center to get out there. While the view is of course spectacular, I would not say it necessarily was worth the drive. It would have been just as good to have saved 30 of those miles and just gone to Point Imperial (the highest point on the rim) for the view east across the desert.

After the drive out there, we then began hiking the Widforss Trail. This 10 mile roundtrip trail is just a wonderful hike through the mixed-conifer forest along the rim. It was too late in the day to do the entire thing, so we hiked out about 2 miles or so and then hiked back. Even that initial section was well worth it. Someday, I would like to do the entire hike to get to Widforss Point, so we can look west down the canyon.

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