Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Unique Grand Canyon views on North Rim

Point Imperial. Photo Courtesy Grand Canyon NPS.
For unique views of the Grand Canyon, consider hiking the Point Imperial Trail on Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim.

To reach this part of the park, as driving south on Ariz. Hwy. 67, turn left onto Point Imperial Road about three miles before the visitor center/lodge. In 5.4 miles, turn left rather than onto Cape Royal Road.

The road ends after three miles at the Point Imperial parking lot, which offers picnic tables overlooking the eastern canyon from an altitude of 8803 feet. This is the highest of the North Rim vistas.

The trail leaves from the parking lot, heading along the canyon rim for two miles (four-miles round trip) through forestland destroyed during the 2000 Outlet Fire, though new aspen groves have taken root. The trail is fairly easy with only 100 feet in elevation change. It is part of the Arizona Trail.

Canyon views along Point Imperial Trail are somewhat different than what you’ll find on other trails at the national park. In this section of the canyon, the cliff walls are much closer together, so it appears to be a more conventional albeit deep gorge. Rising above the trail in the distance is Saddle Mountain.

A good turn back point is the trail’s terminus at the national park’s boundary. It can be extended, though, by taking Nankoweap Trail or Kaibab National Forest Road 610, but this isn’t recommended unless you plan to spend the night camping in the backcountry.

Read more about day hiking the Grand Canyon in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Hiking Grand Canyon National Park guidebook.