Grand just isn't a strong enough superlative to describe the jaw-dropping majesty of the Grand Canyon. I've flown over it, seen other people's photos and always been impressed. But not until we set foot in and on it did I truly understand the incredible beauty of this top-of-everyone's-bucket-list destination.
We chose the North Rim. The north side is generally considered the least crowded and commercial and arguably offers the best views. Forget about camping there. You need reservations or the patience of Job to sit out front of the camping check-in office all day long to gobble up any rare cancellation or early departure.
There are campgrounds at Jacob's Lake, about 25 miles from the entrance, and one about four miles away, called DeMott. Both are primitive, meaning there is no on site hookups.
Both were also filled the two nights we were there.
But we didn't care.
Look where we stayed.
This is a dispersed camping site two miles west of AZ 67 (the two-lane paved road that leads to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park) on a dirt road a quarter mile from the DeMott Campground. The road is officially known as FDR 22 and it offers lots of sites in the Kaiba National Forest for those who can boondock. And that we surely can in our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL.
We saw several tenters as we looked for the site we eventally chose and one monster Class A that just pulled over to the side of the road, and then ate dust all night from other dispersed campers seeking a spot in the woods.
The spot we chose is exactly two miles west of 67. You'll come to an intersection with FDR 462. Turn south on 462 and 100 feet down, on the west side is huge site in a small meadow. Again, that's it in the photo above. We liked it so much that we spent two nights there.
By day, we explored the canyon.
Like all National Parks, the Grand Canyon is not particularly dog friendly. But there is a great hike that leashed dogs can do that starts from the Visitor's Center and runs along the canyon wall to Bright Angel Point. It's only a half mile out and back but there are plenty of little side perches you can take that get you off the trail and very close to the edge.
Some of the best views of the canyon are there. It's a paved trail and not difficult at all. Here's what you see:
There are lots of other trails to hike.
I didn't do the full hike down into the canyon at the North Kaibob Trail. One of us had to stay with the dog in the RV and besides being extremely strenuous, it's an all day hike down and back up. I went down for a few minutes to see what it was like. It sure whetted my hiking appetite but doing that trail is a multi-hour commitment. There is no doubt that traveling with a dog does crimp your style. You can not do everything you'd like to do when you have a pet with you.
We also hiked the Cape Royal Trail drive that offers great views of the canyon, Angels Window, and the Colorado River. Dogs are not allowed on the paved parts but Tai was pretty tired from his earlier hke at Bright Angel so he chilled in the AC of our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL.
Weather is always a factor to keep in mind when at the canyon. Most of the day it was beautiful, with blue skies and temps in the upper 70's. But in a matter of seconds while we were at Point Imperial, the sky suddenly darkened and huge hail-like snow pellets fell. You can see them on the ground in the below photo.
We spent two days there, camping in that private dispersed spot I told you about above. Daytime temps in late May when we visited were in the low 70's. Once the sun goes down, it cooled rapidly. We needed the heater on both nights as it dropped into the upper 30's.
If there was a nearby town that offered doggy day care or pet sitting, we would have stayed a third night and left Tai there so we could spend the day on a longer hike. I'm comfortable leaving him in the RV with the AC on for an hour or two, but not all day.
That's the price you pay when traveling with a pet and it's a small price, considering the joy our animal companions give us.
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