Roadtrip part 2: Sunset Crater, North Rim, Bryce Canyon

The adventures of grandmother, mother and daughter on a 9-day roadtrip from Pasadena to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

CONTINUED FROM PART 1

Day 4 – Sunset Crater, Kaibab Lodge, AZ.

Today we made for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We headed north on the 89 and detoured into Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  This was an excellent stop: there were lava fields and we could walk near the base of the extinct volcano. Further along the loop road we could see the Painted Desert in the distance, all shades of red and yellow.  We also had a brief stop at Wupatki Pueblo but as the temperature was climbing and there was no shade we pushed on.

We parked at Doney Mountain for a picnic under some trees, then rejoined the 89 North towards Jacob Lake.

The scenery on this drive was breathtaking.  The Echo Cliffs loomed to our right with so many layers of red.  We turned onto the 89A and stopped where the road crossed the Colorado River. The scenery here, at the Vermillion Cliffs, was like Monument Valley – red earth and buttes.

At Jacob Lake we turned onto the 67 south towards Kaibab Lodge.  Here it was forested and autumn colors were showing on the aspen.

The wooden cabin that was our accommodation was on a meadow and we saw deer grazing as the sun set. Later we saw many stars, even though there was patchy cloud. It was freezing.

Total miles: 210.

Day 5 – Grand Canyon North Rim, Jacob Lake, AZ.

After at least a few hours cold sleep we drove along the 67 south towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We saw a herd of bison on the meadow, and before we got to the rim we detoured to Point Imperial (now at 8803 ft) and saw the most amazing views.  We then drove along to Cape Royal, stopping at a few choice viewpoints, before parking and going for a walk to the cliff edge.

After taking many photographs we drove to the North Rim lodge and had lunch overlooking the canyon. On our post-lunch walk to Bright Angel Point we saw more views and rainstorms over the south rim.  Then, after stocking up on gifts at the shop, and as the rain began, we drove back up the 67 to the Jacob Lake Inn.

Total miles: 106.

Day 6 – Tropic, Bryce Canyon, UT.

After no cell phone signal or wifi since Flagstaff, we drove towards Kanab, UT hopeful for both.  The scenery along the way was once again spectacular with open plains and cliffs in the distance. We stopped for coffee and wifi in Kanab before heading directly to Tropic, UT, to our accommodation.  On this part of the journey we passed through lush, fertile valleys and small villages.

After a brief supermarket lunch we drove back towards Bryce Canyon National Park.  For reasons best known to ourselves we decided to drive the entire 15 mile loop, stopping at each lookout on the way.  Point Inspiration is the first, and arguably the best, stop. The vast field of red and yellow pillars, standing like terracotta warriors, was a sight to behold.  We were still at altitude so the short climb to the top here was difficult.

As we progressed along the route it got colder and darker and started to spit with rain.  We were climbing too and by the time we reached the end of the road at Rainbow Point we were at 9113 ft.

We looked at the view for a polite amount of time, then hurried back to the Lodge for a very entertaining astronomy lecture.  Because of the rain the planned star-gazing was called off.  We had a very dark and wet journey back to the log cabins at Tropic.

Total miles: 178.

Next Post: Las Vegas to Pasadena

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