After a week of hiking and backpacking the Grand Canyon from the South Rim in 2013, I was interested in visiting the North Rim, and this fall we took a day trip from Utah down to the end of the road into the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park.
The Park had been closed for a week, then reopened on a limited basis. The campground was almost empty, the hotel and the stores were closed. The Parks Service had some minimal staffing and the area was relatively deserted. We were pleased by the fall colors on the Rim at 8000 feet.
After a number days of harder hiking, we weren't prepared to go down into the Canyon itself. There is really just one trail anyway and it is 13 miles of downhill to the Colorado River so the only real option is to go part way down and back up, a very steep route. We chose to walk along some Rim trails instead.
The biggest disappointment is that all views into the Canyon are to the south, looking directly into the sun. From the South Rim, we can see all the buttes, canyons, and escarpments, including the distant North Rim. Not so from the North Rim. Perhaps on a clear day with late afternoon light the views are clearer, but we could see some of the immediate upper canyon features, but not much in the distance.
The road ends at a point jutting into the Canyon and visitors can walk out to several viewpoints. We walked to all of these. There were only a handful of people around at this late October date.
We chose the Transept Trail for our hike. This is a moderate trail along the rim of a side canyon connecting the North Rim to the campground. We were pleased by this forest walk among the fir, pine, and aspens. Along the way, we spotted the Kaibab squirrel. This tassel-eared squirrel with a bushy white tail is only found in the ponderosa pine forests of the North Rim area. Aspens were in their autumn colors, shining in the southwest sun.
There are other trails near the North Rim to hike – North-Rim-Map – but we probably won't return to hike them. The South Rim has the views, the trails, and the services so we will choose to backpack and camp there.