For those who seek off the beaten paths, quiet nature and don’t want helicopters and loud tourists disturbing their spectacular hike in the Grand Canyon, the North Rim is where you want to go. There are over 10 different hikes, all starting from different points on the North Rim and all with different difficulty levels (from 20 minutes up to 2 days hiking).
In the beginning we didn’t even knew that there were two separate entrees, the most touristic South Rim (90% of the visitors go here) and the North Rim. The two entrees lie more than 5 hours driving away from each other, so you cannot do both in one day. As we were planning on going in July and wanted to go camping as well, South Rim was not ideal, because we didn’t book anything ahead. So we decided to try the North Rim, also because it is far less crowded and touristic. Best choice ever!
We drove right up a very basic campground in Jacob Lake (17$). The temperature was excellent (didn’t need a/c) and we could make a nice campfire. The advantage of this campground was that it was commercial (normal tel. number), but the Forrest campground looked fine as well. The next day we started our hike at 8 am at the visitor centre (with a very nice and down to earth lodge for eating and drinking). Simple hike of 30 minutes but with a spectacular view! Perfect if you only have a few hours. After that we drove to the starting point of the Whitford trail (4/5 hours hike). What an amazing hike. It seemed as if it was just us there (little people on the trail). The views of the canyon were incredible. I highly recommend the North Rim to view the Grand Canyon. If you want a glimpse of the Colorado River you still have plenty of opportunities in the Navajo tribe area. For example towards Kayenta (from Jacob Lake).
Near Kayenta we visited the Navajo Monument Park. It has two very nice primitive campgrounds that offer toilets, grills and free camp sites with stunning views. The hiking tours are very informative (native ancient village in a cave) and not that hard to walk, yet they offer a nice work-out. The views on the Colorado River and the canyons there were impressive.
After Navajo it is a quick drive to Monument Valley. The best pictures we took there were at sunrise outside of the park (open’s at 7). The campground on the other side of the road was the perfect location for that. Expect many big rigs and loads of tourists, but for one night it was ok. They offer wifi which was nice and rare in the Navajo area. Toilets were very basic for the price you pay (28$).
Wish we had more time! This part of the US is absolutely gorgeous!!!