Picnic at Point Imperial: The Best Place to Enjoy a PB & Jelly Sandwich
Grand Canyon’s popularity is rooted in the beauty of this wonderland. Spectacular colors burst from odd rock formations which twist into intriguing array of shapes. Hikers and back packers find the landscape perfect for exploring. The Colorado River entices kayakers to float leisurely down the calm stretches of the waterway, while powerful rapids beckon adventurous white water rafters.
Fewer people visit the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, just 10 miles across the canyon from South Rim. Point Imperial, the highest accessible lookout spot in the park – at 8,803 feet above sea level – is on the North Rim, as well as other spectacular lookout spots: Cape Royal and Bright Angel Points.
Now you’re invited to discover Point Imperial which treats travelers to the northernmost view of the Grand Canyon.
For starters, the more remote and less busy North Rim can be reached via US 89 and US 89A to Jacob Lake, then drive 30 miles south on AZ 67 to the park entrance. Note: Road access to the North Rim is closed in winter. Park facilities are open only from mid-May to mid-October. Driving distance between the North Rim and South Rim park units is 212 miles. Jacob Lake is the closest town to the North Rim.
Arizona Shuttle provides scheduled daily van service between Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and Flagstaff, Williams, and Grand Canyon Village. Contact: arizonashuttle.com; (800) 888-2749. On-demand shuttle service to South Rim and North Rim (summer only) from Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff and Williams by Grand Canyon Shuttle Service; also serves Lees Ferry, Page, and Supai Village trailhead. Contact: grandcanyonshuttles.com; (888) 215-3105. Once-daily service between South Rim and North Rim from mid-May to mid-Oct. is available by reservation through Trans Canyon Shuttle. Contact: www.trans-canyonshuttle.com; (928) 638–2820.
The North Rim is open mid-May through mid-October annually. The North Rim experiences perceptibly cooler temperatures year-round and is the reason for its summer-only schedule. Average temperatures for the North Rim are 60s to 70s high and 30s – 40s low between May to October. Expect 1 – 3 inches of rain per month at the North Rim, so be sure to pack lightweight layers, including a rainproof outer layer and appropriate camping gear if camping overnight in a developed campground or backcountry campsite.
The North Rim is a very remote destination so it offers fewer options for lodging, services, visitor centers and variety when it comes to activities and tours. North Rim is a fantastic choice for visitors who seek a more natural, quiet and uncrowded Grand Canyon experience. At the North Rim, guided tours are fewer and you’ll find more emphasis on professionally guided or self-guided advanced hiking and backpacking. And, let’s not forget about the legendary Grand Canyon mule trips, available through Grand Canyon Trail Rides. You’ll also see several Upper Canyon river rafting trips that put in near the North Rim at Lees Ferry or Glen Canyon Dam.
The view of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim is equally stunning, though seen from just three developed viewpoints. Views from the North Rim are widely panoramic, offering views that seem to go nearly all the way ’round you, though rarely giving the viewer a glimpse of the Colorado River below. Many visitors delight at the unique and rarer view of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim while others crave classic snapshots from the south rim.
Admission to Grand Canyon National Park is $25 per private vehicle and is valid for 7 days at both the South Rim and North Rim units. The fee for visitors entering by foot, bicycle or motorcycle is $12 per person; kids 15 years and younger are free. No refunds are given for inclement weather.
So, whether you have a day or are blessed with a week off, take a Grand Canyon trip. Pack a picnic lunch and travel to the North Rim viewpoints. Start around 8 a.m. The early sun on the sandstone provides the most memorable colors and spectacle. You may very well experience the most dramatic lighting of the sky. The idea is to take in the viewpoints on the way out in the morning, picnic at Point Imperial, then visit the same viewpoints on the way back to see how different they are in late afternoon light vs. morning light. No real hiking needed here. Take a short walk and enjoy!