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When you're standing on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking up Bright Angel Canyon to the North Rim,
it looks like the South Rim is level with the North Rim. Actually, you're standing at 7,000 ft elevation,
looking up at the North Rim's 8,200 ft. elevation.
And as for the distance, you're only about 9 miles away, as the raven flies.
But unless you're prepared to hike across the Canyon, (9.5 miles down the Bright Angel Trail to the river, and 14.2 up the other side on the North Kaibab), or ride a mule or horse across, (not easily available), you'll have to drive 215 miles to get to the other side. The nearest bridge across the Grand Canyon is at Lees Ferry, a drive of over two hours from Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim.
To get to the North Rim, you'll go east from Grand Canyon Village, leave the park just past Desert View, and head down the eastern flank of the Kaibab Plateau to Cameron at around 4,100 ft. elevation. You'll then go north and along the base of the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs. After crossing the bridge at Lees Ferry, the road heads west past Marble Canyon and the actual village of Lees Ferry, eventually heading abruptly uphill out of the desert into the treeline. At the last turn before you gain significant elevation, there's a magnificent overlook, where you can see all the way back to the beginning of your trek across the desert floor.
NOTE: These photos were culled from two different trips I took to the North Rim, in May of 2004 and May of 2005. In 2004, I went on my own for just a few days, and the previous winter, there had been relatively little snow at the North Rim. So, although they'd closed the park for the winter, as they do every year, the road in May was clear and unobstructed.
However, the winter of 2004 was a far different story: the reopening of the park for the 2005 season had to be delayed by a week due to the immense amount of snow, and the difficulty in plowing the roads so park employees and vendors could reach the park facilities to get it ready for opening.
By May of 2005, I was working for the park concessioner's retail division, and I was sent to the North Rim to assist in setting up the two retail stores for the opening of the summer season. This involves a team of people transforming a gift shop and a camper store from empty buildings with bare shelves, to fully-stocked stores with attractively displayed merchandise, ready to open their doors to the public.
I hope you enjoy the road trip, the views of Grand Canyon Lodge before its seasonal reopening, and a variety of scenic views at the North Rim, such as Bright Angel Point, Angel's Window, and Point Imperial at sunrise.
Your comments are always welcome!
- Rosie McGee
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