After a rather disappointing experience in Zion I drove straight to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Against all my expectations the Grand Canyon area is not warm end of September. One of the reasons for that is that the North Rim is at about 2400m elevation. Another fact I didn’t really know was that the Grand Canyon is not just one canyon but a huge area with many side canyons leading into the main canyon carved by the Colorado river.
I spent the first (freezing) night just outside the park at the Saddle Mountain trailhead at 2800m which features an amazing view of parts of the canyon. When the sun warmed up the Landy enough to get out of the sleeping bag and after a warm breakfast I went to the visitor center. On the map I saw a road leading out of the map labeled “Point Sublime (4WD)”. A quick Google inquiry reveals a rough 18mi road that leads to a overlook where you can camp with a back country permit. The park staff doesn’t really advertise this place and there is no information about it in the official park material you can get at the visitor center.
Luckily I got a permit and off I went. Apart from a group of students on a field trip I was the only person camping there. I had great conversations with the study group and about their program. Most of them studied an art related topic and are now exploring and studying the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. You can learn more about the program at www.landarts.org.
After a beautiful sunrise I left the North Rim and went to the South Rim. Even though the two rims are that’s only a few miles apart, it’s about 150 miles to get from North to South. Since a did a few side trips it took me two days to get to the South. And after a day at the south rim I moved on. It’s not much different compated to the other side but with much more people.
From the Grand Canyon I went to the Mojave desert. There is a “shortcut” through the desert if you want to go to the Death Valley. Of course this shortcut takes much more time to cross the desert than the highway that goes around it. However the “Old Mojave Road” is a beautiful historic track that has been used by the first settlers crossing the desert and goes through many historic places. Apart from that, it’s also a fun trail in a proper 4×4 😉