"The path less trodden" Grand Canyon by toonsarah

Grand Canyon Travel Guide: 933 reviews and 3,112 photos

Snowstorm over the Grand Canyon

The Canyon's North Rim (and a bit of the South )

Only 10% of visitors to the Grand Canyon visit its North Rim, which to us sounded like a good reason to go there, and so it proved to be. Harder to reach, and closed completely in winter (its higher elevation means plenty of snow), it is well worth the planning and little bit of effort needed to get there.


We arrived on an afternoon in late June. The snow we’d seen on a truck earlier that day in Hurricane, UT, should have given us a hint of what we were to find, but we were nevertheless surprised to see “snow showers” chalked up on the board at the entry station. But on the long winding road from there to the Lodge where we were to stay, perched on the rim itself, we experienced just a few drops of sleety rain – maybe the forecast was wrong?

They say you never forget your first sight of the Grand Canyon. We parked up near the Lodge, went inside, and were at once struck speechless by the sight that greeted us. Immediately opposite the entrance of the lodge is a huge window directly overlooking the Canyon. The weather was worsening and black clouds combined with swirls of icy rain to give the most dramatic of effects.

Having checked in we headed for our little cabin, about five minute’s walk from the lodge itself. There we hurriedly piled on every one of the few jumpers we had packed with us and headed back to the canyon, which drew us like a magnet. Out on the terraces either side of the lodge we gazed at the sight. The icy rain had become first sleet and then snow, and the winds howling through the canyon created what was close to a blizzard. Despite the cold we were transfixed, and took photo after photo until our frozen hands could no longer grip the cameras safely. At this point we retired to the shelter of the lodge and gazed some more through that huge window while warming ourselves with a cup of coffee.

Later that evening we ate in the lodge’s dining room before settling to sleep in our cabin, which thankfully had an efficient stove. And the next morning we woke to a very different canyon. The bad weather had passed, leaving a pleasantly warm sunny day, so we were able to explore the North Rim properly.

A few days later our route took us to the much more crowded South Rim. Perhaps because of those crowds, or because we had experienced such magic on the North Rim, or because we had allowed less time for this part; whatever the reason, the South Rim appealed to us rather less. Nevertheless we enjoyed following the driving tour along the rim, pausing at various viewpoints – Desert View alone made it well worth the trip.

Our final view of the Grand Canyon came not from one of its rims but from the air. We took a short flight from an airfield north of Flagstaff which gave us a rather different perspective and a chance to really appreciate the huge scale of this geological marvel. They don’t call it Grand for nothing!

Our visit here was way back in 1993. Memories are hazy and the old photos a bit the worse for wear. But it was a special trip and one I was keen to document for VT. The tips are a bit short on facts perhaps, but I hope there’s enough information here to inspire you to visit the Grand Canyon if you haven’t already done so, or to bring back your memories of it if you have.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Please don't ignore the wonders of the North Rim
  • Last visit to Grand Canyon: Jun 1993
  • Intro Updated Dec 24, 2011
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Reviews (14)

Comments (11)

  • christine.j's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2013 at 3:35 AM

    Great tips, Sarah. Thank you for telling me about the snowstorm. We'll be there mid-June, so I'll make sure to pack a sweater.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Feb 24, 2013 at 4:05 AM

      You're welcome! I would say, two sweaters, based on our experience!!

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Sarak, I enjoyed your page, tips are excellent. We were meant to visit in May this year but had to postpone. Maybe 2013, and we might have to change plans and include North Rim. We were going May, good tip about extra clothes needed.

    • toonsarah's Profile Photo
      Dec 4, 2012 at 12:41 AM

      Thanks Mike. I definitely recommend the North Rim but do your homework - I have a feeling that in May it will still be closed. The National Park website will advise

  • Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
    May 20, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    Sarah, judging from this page, I don't think you have to worry about your memory! Fantastic tips and photos of your visit, especially re Angel Window & Cape Royal! Sue & I only had time for 1-night on the South Rim (Phoenix business trip).

  • paulhanson's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    I remember my first jaw-dropping look through the window of the Lodge - thanks for the memory!

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Thanks for such a wonderful set of tips about the north rim. The south rim is OK - if you visit in November! or some other time that isn't peak season. Took the train there too.

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2010 at 6:43 PM

    Glad to hear you made a point of making it to the North Rim, Sarah. It is an entirely different experience as you say. Very envious of your cabin stay. I must say it was one place I would have liked to splurge too!

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    Sarah, fantastic page about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Haveing a beer after a Rangers Talk sounds like my sort of thing. *winkygrin*

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 10, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    The view over Grand Canyon in snowstorm looks amazing! Great you got to see it in different weather. I hope to visit one day!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 2, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    I like your vivid account of your arrival at the North Rim with a storm coming on. Thanks for taking the trouble to scan in your 1993 photos. (And thanks for having a look at my Zürich updates. Glad you like the tips about funiculars & cog railways.)

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Feb 26, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Oh, this loghouse looks sooo cute! And Grand Canyon during a snowstorm must be amazing! This honestly makes me want to go there again! and yes, I agree, nothing beats that flight! We once had a similar one like you took :-)

toonsarah

“I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust”

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