July 20 – 22
For the next couple of days we are in the Kaibab National Forest not far from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Our route from Page via 89A takes us beside the original Navaho Bridge, into the Marble Canyon, past Lees Ferry, the Vermillion Cliffs and the Cliff Dwellers Stone House. We wind our way alongside red and orange bluffs down to prairies of scrub with a backdrop of gray/taupe hills on one side and orange/red on the other. The gray/taupe begins to dominate and scrub gives way to green grasses and trees. As we continue to climb we begin to see pinyon and juniper trees and finally emerge into a forest of tall ponderosa pines.
When we arrive at Kaibab Camper Village (elevation 7900 feet) it’s drizzling and 61 degrees – a welcome relief after the heat of Lake Powell. We quickly set up camp, have lunch, and plant ourselves outside under the protection of the awning. We have a nice view down the hill and into the woods behind the camper where we watch squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about. It’s refreshingly cool and quiet. I even spot a Kaibab Squirrel (found only on the Kaibab Plateau) and manage to get a couple of photos.
Friday morning we drive to the North Rim Visitor Center about 45 minutes away. The drive takes us through the forest and along side some beautiful meadows bordered by aspen trees. Occasionally we spot a deer or a family of wild turkey. There are sections where the forest has burned and we catch a glimpse of the canyon. Upon arrival, we park the truck and start walking toward the Visitor Center but before we can get there a thunderstorm hits. We’re forced to take refuge in a covered display area to wait it out. The rain relents a bit so we dash into the Visitor Center and from there to the Lodge (perched on the rim of the canyon) for an early lunch. During lunch the storm abates and the sun begins to make an appearance. We take advantage of the view from the patio of the Lodge and then follow the trail to Bright Angel Point.
Afterward due to the uncertain weather and late start we decide to return to the campground.
When we arrive at our camper we discover that we’ve been invaded by a group of toy haulers with various off-road vehicles. We have no view and no quiet. They’re here to party.
We start out early Saturday morning and follow the Cape Royal Road along the rim of the canyon, stopping to enjoy the view from several overlooks. At the end of the road we hike the Cape Royal Trail to Angels Window and Cape Royal. Returning to the truck we retrace our route back to the Cape Final trailhead. Most of this trail is a forested walk with a few spots of rocks and occasionally a downed tree or two. The trail ends at an escarpment overlooking the canyon and the Painted Desert. We find a cool spot to soak in the view and share a snack before heading back.
Back at the campground we find the neighbors much more subdued. Perhaps partying like they did the night before and 4 wheeling all day has taken it’s toll.
Unfortunately Sunday is a travel day so we pack up and prepare to leave the cool air for the lower elevations.