Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Park Map


I had decided to go to the Grand Canyon from Cedar Breaks UT. I left after my hike, around noon, and got to Kanab UT in about an hour. South of Kanab is the BLM office in Fredonia (and yes, the Marx Brothers song reverberated through my head while I was there!) and talked to the ranger there about getting to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and possible campgrounds I might stay in.

It was 1 pm (I gained an hour when I crossed into Arizona) and the ranger showed me the three campgrounds between Fredonia and the Grand Canyon- Jacob Lake, De Motte and the actual NP campground. They'll all be full by the time you get there, the ranger said. My advice is, check at each, and if you find a space take it...but you probably won't.

Well, I said, full of my newfound ability to NOT worry about where I was staying for the night, If I don't I'll drive the hour and a half back from the Grand Canyon and get a motel room in Kanab.

And I got to Jacob Lake campground, which we had driven by and had lunch across the road from last year on our long trip, and found a campsite there that seemed empty. I went and got a fee envelope and was filling it out when the lady who oversaw the campground came by.

This space looked empty, I said, is it ok if I take it?

Sure thing! she said, we're usually full but several people didn't know up today. But would you please leave something here to show that it's taken? sometimes people come and see the empty space and don't look at the clip where the note shows that it's reserved.

Sure, I said, and opened the back of my truck and got out my camp stove and left it on the table. And got back in and drove off...WITHOUT closing the back of the truck.

Forty five miles later, when I stopped to take pictures of the buffalo, I walked behind the truck and was horrified to find that I had done this...I looked all through everything...and I hadn't lost A THING. Not my camping stuff, my chairs, my teapot that was right in the back of the truck, my awesome sea monkey pajamas, my hiking boots that I had left on the bed, not even the flyer from Cedar Breaks. I was damn lucky. The day kind of went downhill from there...

In talking to Rosemary, the nice lady at the Jacob Lake campground, she had recommended that as soon as I got through the entrance station for the Grand Canyon, I turn to the left and take the road to Point Imperial and Cape Royal. They're off the usual road, she said, but well worth visiting.
This is the road to Point Imperial, and the Grand Canyon is just over the hill to the right... And the view is beautiful...but very hazy. There was a controlled burn going on, and the clouds were moving in...pretty, and big, but the colors are very muted. My memories of 20 years ago are spectacularly colored.
And...it's getting darker...it's about 4 pm. Normally it'd be light til 9 or so... And now I'm at the Cape Royal viewpoint, which is a trail about a quarter of a mile out to the rim. Cliffrose.
The view from Cape Royal. There was a little trail out across this bridge, and a viewpoint to let you see it, and (as I did) take a picture through it.
Utah Juniper Me at Cape Royal Fernbush flower
These are also cliffroses, but wow, they have seriously gone wild.
The left pic is some kind of penstemon, I think; the middle is the patch of a lot of different flowers together, very pretty! and the right picture is some kind of goldenrod.
Post-blooming cactus, but interesting. Two more views from the overlook, then I'm off to the visitor center and some hiking!
When I passed the entrance kiosk, I asked the ranger lady what the best hike is...she said, take the transverse trail around the lodge/visitor's center/campground, it's about three miles and it's pretty. Which it was, but a lot of it was inside the trees, so there were not as spectacular views as the rim trail...the next few pictures are from the transverse trail. Before I hiked it, though, I found a pay phone and called Doug to tell him where I'd be that night and natter a bit. That was lovely.

Purple lupines.

See how the pictures get darker? by the time I finished hiking, around 7 pm, it was raining. Hard. REALLY hard, like running water all through the parking lot. I was getting soaked. So I got back to the truck, and (since I had already planned to have dinner at the Grand Canyon before driving back) I changed my shoes to sandals (better for kicking through puddles) and put a book and my reading glasses into a ziplock bag and walked over to the lodge, about five minutes through POUNDING rain and lakes of puddles. And I was tired, I had hiked about 7 miles that day. And I got to the lodge...and I realized that I didn't have my wallet, it was in the car where I had left it while I hiked. Which meant my choices were:
  1. Go back and get it, getting soaked on the way, and I was damn tired.
  2. Get out of there and probably not get dinner, I was too tired to cook...and I was REALLY hungry, it was a day when I snacked instead of having a real lunch.
  3. Go into the cafeteria-like place that was in front of me and see if there was any way to get food using my memorized credit card number.

None of these seemed to be good ideas...but I asked the cashier lady, and she said, walk around and decide what you want, come back and tell me, and we'll try to put your card number in manually...and it WORKED. I had pizza and soup and a yogurt parfait for dinner, and they were DELICIOUS.

Then I waded (no joke) back across three parking lots to my truck; rain is still coming down like crazy, but many people have left, so navigating the parking lot is much easier. I am following another car as I leave, which is good, because it's hard to see the road in the pouring rain...and as I get to the exit kiosk, I see tire tracks in the...SNOW??? I pulled over to look at it...not snow but three inches of hail, that fell recently enough that it's still there on the ground.

Wow.

For the hour back to the campground, there is the most amazing thunder and lightning storm ahead and to both sides of me...it's hard because the rain is coming and going and some hail, and the roads are unfamiliar and it's dark as hell...but eventually I get through to the other side of it, get to my campground and pull into my space. And I think, that storm is on its way, it'll be here soon...and I ran to the bathroom, changed into my jammies, brushed my teeth, leapt into bed, and the heavens opened. And I was dry and warm in my lovely truck.

This is my space at the Jacob Lake campground, taken the next morning after the rain was gone.