- Where do you get the best views of the Grand Canyon? The North Rim? The South Rim? Admittedly, it s a subjective decision, but the South Rim gets my vote.Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2006View SourceWhere do you get the best views of the Grand Canyon?The North Rim? The South Rim?Admittedly, it's a subjective decision, but the South Rim gets my vote.That comes after making my first trip to the still-impressive North Rim. I had visited the South Rim about 15 years ago.The North Rim and South Rim are only 10 miles apart by air, but they are 215 miles and five hours apart by road.The North Rim is higher in elevation at up to 8,800 feet. It is covered with pine forests and open only five months a year because of snow. It gets far fewer visitors than the South Rim. Accommodations are more limited on the North Rim. It has fewer trails that drop into the canyon and fewer overlooks.The North Rim has higher cliff faces and offers up-high views of the rock formations within the canyon.But to me, the big difference is that the views from the North Rim are less striking, less dramatic, less gripping.From the North Rim, you have sweeping giant vistas across the Grand Canyon from Bright Angel, Cape Royal and Point Imperial. From its edge, the North Rim offers an enormity of view.The North Rim offers one glimpse of the aquamarine Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. That's at Cape Royal.However, you are unable to look into the heart of the canyon from the North Rim the way you can from the South Rim with its numerous vantage points, and that is a significant difference.The South Rim offers better lighting and offers a wider and deeper canyon than does the North Rim.That enables you to visually connect with the Grand Canyon in a way that is not as strong from the North Rim.Sites on North RimBut the North Rim has a lot going for it, including the historic Grand Canyon Lodge that was built in the 1920s by the Union Pacific Railroad. It sits on the rim and provides a first-rate venue for sunset-watchers to gather on its patio to watch the sun sink over the canyon.The lodge, with its limestone walls and timbered ceilings, is a National Historic Landmark.Bright Angel Point Trail next to the lodge runs a half mile to the tip of a narrow neck of rock that sticks south into the canyon. Below are Roaring Springs and The Transept, both side canyons of Bright Angel Canyon.Point Imperial is the highest point on either rim with an elevation of 8,803 feet. The views are very cool.Seventeen miles to the south is Cape Royal and the Angels' Window, an arch that has eroded out from a rocky fin. It offers good views of the mesas and temples that fill the canyon.Point Sublime was out of reach on our visit. It is a rough, two-hour trip one-way. It was the only North Rim overlook we missed.The North Rim also offers some great top-of-the-plateau hiking on the Widforss, Transept and Ken Patrick trails.Gaze at gaudy abyssThe Grand Canyon National Park covers 1,900 square miles and attracts 4.6 million visitors a year.It is big and impressive; 277 miles long, four to 10 miles wide and 5,000 to 6,000 feet deep. It is a multi-colored, gaudy abyss with 20 layers of rock. It is a giant canyon of smaller canyons and gorges. It is marked by plunging slopes and precipitous cliffs. It is hot and dry.A stillness wraps up onlookers as they gaze into its depths. Some glimpse into the canyon, then dash off to the next vantage. Others stand or sit for long periods, watching the ever-shifting panorama that tries to meet one's grand expectations.But the best way to connect is to hike into the Grand Canyon, to get below the edge, even if it's only a short hike or a short mule ride. There are 15 trails that descend into the canyon from the two rims.From the North Rim, you can hike into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail. It is the lone maintained trail from the North Rim into the heart of the canyon. It leads 14 miles from the North Rim down Bright Angel Canyon to the Colorado River and Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon.You can make a 9.4-mile day hike that descends 3,041 feet to Roaring Springs and returns to the North Rim. It is a strenuous hike that takes seven to eight hours. There's no water except what you carry.A shorter trek is 0.7 miles down the North Kaibab Trail to Coconino Overlook, which is named for the sandstone formation that is such a key part of the canyon walls, or 2 miles to Supai Tunnel.Another short North Rim into-the-canyon option is Cliff Spring Trail.Plan far aheadIt starts off the road near Cape Royal. The trail is a short one-mile hike one-way along a forested ravine. It runs past a historic Anasazi granary of rocks to Cliff Spring, a spring that trickles from under a prominent rocky overhang.It's a pretty spot in a side canyon with views deeper into the heart of the Grand Canyon. You should see the Grand Canyon from within -- with rock above and below and all-around. It provides a different perspective.The key for staying at 1.2 million-acre Grand Canyon National Park and doing what you want to do is to plan ahead -- months ahead, if possible. Mule rides, hikes, river trips, lodging and camping spots are booked far in advance.Admission to the park is $20 per automobile -- with the pass good for seven days.For general information: National Park Service, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023; 928-638-7888. The Internet site is www.nps.gov/grca.For lodging at the park lodge on the North and South rims, contact Xanterra Parks & Resorts, 6312 S. Fiddlers Green Circle, Suite 600 N, Aurora, CO 80111; 303-297-2757 or 888-297-2757. You can also write to P.O. Box 699, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. The Internet sites are www.xanterra.com or www.grandcanyonlodges.com.
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