We had wanted to have at least a couple tent camping trips with Blair and our bikes over the summer and camping at the Grand Canyon has definitely been a goal for us. We loved the North Rim when we visited a few summers ago, when we were staying in Kanab, Utah. It’s quieter than the South Rim, more desolate, more serene, and usually at least 10-20 degrees cooler than the South Rim, which seems strange, since in reality it’s only a few miles away as the crow flies, but because of the forest and canyon, it’s a much different ecological zone.
Just the journey to the North Rim from Flagstaff is amazing. I had wanted to take Sherlock, but after she was too hot just waiting with me in the car for Ross and Blair to get some supplies in a grocery store, we dropped her off at a kennel for the weekend where she could stay out of the sun – I later realized that she wouldn’t have been allowed in the National Park anyway, so it worked out. In the chaos I forgot to bring an SD card for my camera, so I had to take photos with my cell phone all weekend, which I tried to not let bother me…chaos is just our way sometimes.
We made a few stops along the way to take in some views of the Vermillion Cliffs, Colorado River and House Rock. The colors and views were spectacular, and area mostly uninhabited, aside from a few desert homes with no nearby amenities. It was well over 100 at the Colorado River, Sherlock would have been pretty miserable, unable to even walk on the ground, but by the time we got to our campsite, it was barely in the 80s and she could have easily camped with us without much complaint. It was amazing how the temperature varied over the 4 hour journey.
We found a place to camp about 20 miles north of the North Rim entrance. Ross has spoken with a ranger who suggested a couple roads to check out in the Kaibab National Forest. You can pretty much camp anywhere, and there’s already dozens of makeshift campsite (fire pits and a place to put a tent). I even found some great sports down some unused forest service roads took a ride alone on my motorcycle, They must have been used by ATV or moto-campers because getting there would have been hard on any car or truck.
We set up camp and almost immediately set out to the National Park to try and catch the sunset. We made it in good time, though we didn’t get much of a sunset. Blair still got his first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, which was the whole point of the trip, and pretty awesome.
Our campsite was clean and semi secluded, about 100 yards up a rocky old road, somewhat hidden from the forest service road we were off of. This made it a little difficult to find at night when we got back from the park, but we managed. We cooked a dinner of chili a la sausages while Blair played guitar and bats zipped around our heads. Other than a few mosquitoes, which our citronella candle took care of, we didn’t have an insect problem like we have had camping in the South.
The next day we headed back to the rim with plans of hitting up all the view points, doing a few hikes, having lunch at the lodge, and being back in time to play on our bikes for a few hours. We hiked around at bit at Point Imperial, climbing down something that only vaguely appeared to be a trail, and making our way to an island in the sky.
It was Blair’s birthday so we managed to make it a pretty good one. When we got back to camp Ross let him ride his bike, his first time, and I hung around to keep an eye on him as he zipped up and down the gravel road at upwards of 60 miles an hour…at least twice what even I would go and I go faster than I should half the time. After it seemed like he was a natural, I decided to check out a couple of the overgrown roads near our campsite. I went about a mile or so down one, turned around when I found a weird old pit, then crossed to the other side and went about 10 miles up a really cool road that would have lead all the way to the Grand Canyon had I taken it another 15 miles or so. But it was getting dark and I realized I’d been gone for a while.. I also have a healthy fear of hunters shooting aimlessly into the forest, so…. I headed back, and almost got lost, but eventually found my way and arrived just in time to see the damage that had just happened to Ross’s bike by the speed-demon Blair. Only a broken mirror, but some of the first damage to his bike, actually turned out to be a great excuse to get some Double Take folding mirrors. Dualsport mirrors designed to stay out of the way when you’re playing around off road and don’t need mirrors.
We loaded up the bikes in the fleeting light and had another great evening of camping. We left early for the long drive, and still didn’t get back in time to pick up Sherlock. I had to get her the next morning…and she was not happy. She tried to run out the front door of that place before she even cared to greet me, then she yipped at me for about 10 minutes til I understood how mad she was. Next time, we found a pet sitter.