Everybody seems to visit the Grand Canyon. In fact, close to 5 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park each year. But almost all of them go to the South Rim.
Since I had visited the South Rim several times, on this trip through the American Southwest I took the road less traveled; I went to the North Rim for the first time. The road is 260 miles from where I had been staying near Sedona, Arizona, and that is about 150 miles farther than the distance between Sedona and the South Rim.
In fact, the road between the South Rim and North Rim takes 215 miles, even though only 10 miles of canyon separate the two rims. If you were in a hurry, you might consider hiking the 21-mile trail between the two rims. But that would mean taking at least two days and nights and hiking down a mile and then back up another mile before you would get to the other side. I would chose to drive.
Because the North Rim is so isolated, it has only a few of the visitors who make the pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon. I chose the word “pilgrimage” because many people consider it to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The North Rim seems to me to be much more natural than the South Rim because it’s not wall-to-wall tourists. In addition, the North Rim at almost 9,000 feet is about 1,000 feet higher and 10 degrees cooler than the South Rim.
The North Rim is also more dramatic, at least for first time visitors to the Grand Canyon. The road to the North Rim takes you directly to Grand Canyon Lodge, where I stayed, rather than to one of the many overlooks at the South Rim. You don’t even see the canyon until you enter the lodge, which sits right at the rim at the edge of canyon.