Southern Utah & Grand Canyon North Rim - Part II (Sep 30 - Oct 2, 2020)

Continued from Part I of this trip... 

Based out of the Holiday Inn Express in Kanab, we planned to finally see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon together over several days, including some of the remote overlooks accessible only by high-clearance 4x4 vehicles. 

We visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in March 2009 (before we were blogging), and had always wanted to visit the North Rim. 

We read somewhere that only 10% of Grand Canyon National Park's 6 million visitors make it to the North Rim. We found that this was reduced even further because of the pandemic -- a worker in the North Rim Visitor Center told us current visitation was about 25% of "normal."

Grand Canyon North Rim area; map courtesy of
(click map to enlarge)

On our first day we visited the main area the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park which was more than an hour and a half drive south of Kanab in Arizona. The aspens were at their peak of fall color all along the Kaibab Plateau, sometimes strikingly interspersed with burned areas.

Once inside the National Park, we headed west on the paved road to Point Imperial, one of the higher viewpoints, followed by Cape Royal. The clear blue skies were so welcome after all the smoke-filled skies back home. The views down into the canyon were an incredible sight!

Click on any image to see a larger version

View from Imperial Point

View from Imperial Point

View of Angels Window, near Cape Royal

View from Cape Royal

Another view from the spectacular Cape Royal viewpoint

We then drove to the North Rim Visitor Center for a late lunch at the only place open (The Saloon) during the pandemic, then checked out the nearby viewpoints ending with a gorgeous sunset at Bright Angel Point. By luck, the moon was rising just as the sun went down.

Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim Visitors Center

View from Bright Angel Point

View from Bright Angel Point

Obligatory selfie at Bright Angel Point


Last light at Bright Angel Point

We got back to Kanab after 9pm, having driven over 200 miles to the North Rim area and back. 

Thursday morning we were ready for a break from all the driving and found a couple of short hikes not too far from Kanab. 

First was the Toadstool Hoodoos, a bit east of Kanab. This easy and popular hike was really fun. As a backdrop to the hoodoos was a wall of light sandstone that reminded us of Nevada’s Cathedral Gorge. The Toadstools were in a large open area you could wander around on. 

Hiking up to the Toadstools

Plenty of room to wander around the interesting rock formations

Fortunately our next hike was even shorter because the mid-day heat was becoming a bit much. We hiked half a mile through a wash off of a dirt road to reach The Nautilus, one of the more unusual rock formations we’ve seen in Utah.

Looking into "The Nautilus"

Susan standing inside the Nautilus

The wash we hiked in on to see the Nautilus

Mike taking a break in the Nautilus before hiking out

Friday morning it was off to the North Rim again, this time to see it from the Toroweap Overlook in the Tuweep section. To get there we drove through a remote part of the Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. The unpaved road portion of about 60 miles each way was a relatively easy drive, but became more difficult, requiring high-clearance and 4x4 as we approached the last 2-3 miles to the edge of the canyon.

The "road" to Toroweap

Arriving at 9:30AM, incredibly, we had Toroweap to ourselves all morning! There is a lot of red rock to explore around this beautiful area of the rim and we appreciated the solitude as we took it all in.

Our first view from the Toroweap viewpoint, looking mostly southwest

View to the southeast from the canyon rim; it's 3,000' down to the Colorado River

Thousands of feet below we could see several rafts on the river (bottom center)

We enjoyed nearly 2 miles of hiking along the rim on the Saddle Horse Loop Trail

As we were preparing to head back, a group of side-by-sides and another group on horseback were arriving. We stopped at the remote ranger station in Tuweep on our way out and visited with the ranger. While we were talking with her, a census taker driving a sedan showed up to count the single person, a full-time NPS ranger who lives there. After taking the census info, he asked her for help in fixing a flat he had driving over 60 miles on a rough dirt road. 

Stopping at the very remote Tuweep Ranger Station, 16 miles from the Toroweap overlook

There couldn't be more than half a dozen people in this metropolitan area...  :-)

The census taker getting info from the Tuweep seasonal volunteer ranger

After the long bumpy ride back to Kanab, we walked from our hotel to a BBQ food truck for dinner, followed by ice cream cones and called it a day.

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