12 December 2014

Oh Grand Canyon, You've Disappointed Me

Grand Canyon - North Rim, Bright Angel Point
View from trail to Bright Angel Point, North Rim, Grand Canyon
I'm not sure if I'm going to get hate mail for saying this, but the Grand Canyon really disappointed me. It almost seems sacrilegious to badmouth the Grand Canyon. The place is on so many people's bucket lists, so it has to be amazing doesn't it? But, honestly, when we first got to the North Rim late in the afternoon and walked out to to the Bright Angel viewpoint, I felt nothing. I waited and waited and waited for that feeling of awe. That "Oh, my God" moment. It never came. And all I could think was, "What's wrong with me?" Scott seemed enthralled, so I really started to wonder what was wrong with me. Probably nothing a chocolate chip cookie couldn't fix, but I didn't have any of those with me.

We puttered around for a while looking at the views and figuring out what to do the next day, Scott took his usual hundreds of pictures and then we headed off to find a camping spot for the night. Have you done dispersed camping? Maybe you know it better as freedom camping, wild camping or boondocking. Essentially, it means you pitch your tent outside of a developed campground. The upsides are that you have utter solitude and its free. The downside - no shower/toilet block, picnic table and often no fire ring. 

Because we were at the North Rim in November, everything was shut down in the park and outside of the park including the visitor center, restaurants, lodge, campsites etc. You can visit the North Rim during the day, usually through the end of November, or until the first major snowfall when they close the roads for the season. (FYI - the South Rim, which most people visit, stays open all year.) So, unless we wanted to drive a million miles back to "civilization", our options were pretty limited. And that's where dispersed camping comes in. 

Did you know that you can camp pretty much anywhere in US Forest Service land as long as you're 100 feet away from a water source and 150 feet away from a roadway. We found a great spot in the Kaibab National Forest, just a few miles away from the entrance to the North Rim, and pitched out tent. Only problem - it was freezing outside! So instead of sleeping in our tent, we put all of the stuff in our vehicle into the tent and slept in the back of our trusty Pathfinder. While we were warm, we weren't all that comfortable. Kind of reminded me of sharing the v-berth back on our sailboat. I just kept reminding myself that it was free and in close proximity to the park.

I drifted off to sleep wondering if the Grand Canyon would lift its game the next day and finally wow me. Stay tuned to see what happened...

Grand Canyon, North Rim, Lodge
The lodge at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Everything was shut at the lodge while we were there, except the gift shop. Go figure.
Bright Angel Point Trail, Grand Canyon, North Rim
Trail to Bright Angel Point. It's short - only .25 miles - but they warn you to take it easy if you have heart or respiratory conditions as you climb 200 feet up to the point, which is at an elevation of 8,148 feet. You can read more about the trail and point here.
View of Grand Canyon from North Rim
I waited to be impressed by views like this, but for some reason it didn't happen.

Have you ever been disappointed by a place as iconic as the Grand Canyon? 

We visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on 8-9 November 2014.


  1. I've still never been to the grand canyon although I've been close a number of times. I have the feeling that it won't wow me either, so I've never wanted to make the extra couple hour trip in the car... I have heard that the hieroglyphics on the cave walls inside are pretty neat, and you can go white water river rafting (seasonally). I hope your second day was better than the first :)

    1. My mom and sister did a raft trip there many, many years ago. They loved it! We met people who hiked rim to rim and said it was amazing down by the river. Maybe next time :-)

  2. I've been to both rims and prefer the north one because it's much quieter, but I have to admit that it's not as dramatic as the South Rim where you have amazing views of the Colorado River. It's a shame everything was closed because the balcony of the main lodge is a nice place to sit down in a rocking chair, have a beer and take in the view. If I had to guess, though, I'd say day two went better because you were beyond the initial "hype" of the Grand Canyon.

    1. I saw that balcony - I bet it would be an amazing place to take in the views. We went to the south rim too. So much more crowded but more to see and do in some ways. And yes, it did get better ;-)

  3. Maybe the experience of feeling "awe" can only be had at the South rim :)

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  4. The Grand Canyon looked like painting to me, 2 dimensional. I think we spent about 30 minutes on the south rim since it was sort of meh looking down on it (after all the hype). In my opinion to really experience the beauty of it, you have to go down into it and get the 3 dimensional effect. I am going to do that someday.

    1. I think it would be pretty neat to do the hike from rim to rim one day. We met some people who had done it and they said it was incredible seeing the canyon from down below. Thanks for popping by!


We LOVE when people leave comments. It's so much more fun hearing what you have to say. If you have a blog, make sure you leave a link and I'll be sure to pop on by.