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You can catch a mule ride on Grand Canyon North Rim, too, but none of the North Rim mule rides travel all the way to the Colorado River. You can choose from an hour ride along the rim, or 1/2-day and full-day trips into the inner gorge.
It's a good idea to bring a long-sleeved shirt for your mule ride; it offers the best protection from the sun. A large, broad-brimmed hat is recommended for protection, too. You can bring water if you have a place to carry it, and if you take a full-day trip, lunch will be provided. Insect repellent and sunscreen are also a good idea. Bring a camera too; you never know what you'll see along the trail.
Be sure to check with your trail ride company to see if there are any items prohibited on the trail. Mules are sure-footed and docile, so your ride should be a safe and pleasant experience.
Because Grand Canyon North Rim is higher, the weather is cooler than the South Rim. Daytime temperatures in summer are usually in the 70s, while nights cool down to the 40s. In the winter, temperatures can often fall below freezing, and the road is closed due to heavy snowfall in late fall until early spring.
Temperatures in the inner canyon, however, are still hot. Hiking from the North Rim to the bottom of the canyon is even more difficult because of the added elevation. Inner gorge temperatures are usually over 100 degrees in the summertime, and can drop as much as 40 degrees or more overnight.
Just as the surroundings at Grand Canyon North Rim are different, the views of the canyon itself are quite different, too. From the South Rim, the interior of the canyon is quite prominent, as are the buttes, spires, and plateaus that make up the inner canyon.
The North Rim is higher, but the real views are across the width of the canyon, showing the expanse of the gorge and the landscape south beyond. You can see Red Butte and the San Francisco Peaks on clear days, but you won't catch many glimpses of the Colorado River up here, except from very select and secluded locations, such as Toroweap Point, which is difficult to reach without a four-wheel drive vehicle.
A visit to both Rims gives a much "deeper" perspective of the canyon and how it was formed, along with a larger appreciation of the magnitude of the canyon and its depths.
For many, Grand Canyon North Rim provides the "real" Grand Canyon experience. Only 10 percent of canyon visitors make it to the North Rim, which makes it far less crowded and far more enjoyable. The North Rim is at least 8,000 feet in elevation, making it more temperate than the South Rim, too.
Most of all, the North Rim is forested with alpine-type vegetation. While the South Rim offers high-desert pinyon pine, juniper, and Ponderosa pine, the North Rim is covered with firs, pines, aspens, and rolling meadows. In short, the North Rim is breathtaking along the rim, too, not just in the vistas of the canyon.
However, the North Rim is far more remote than the South Rim, and it's closed from the first snowfall of winter (usually late October or early November), until the snow melts in spring (usually mid-May or beyond). Grand Canyon North Rim is harder to get to, but it's truly worth the effort.
There is one campground located inside Grand Canyon North Rim, and several campgrounds are located outside the park at Jacob Lake and on U.S. Forest Service lands. The campground fills up fast, and you must make reservations. You can do that online, or by phone.
The campground is located near the rim in an aspen and fir forest. Most campsites are spacious, and there's a laundry and showers located nearby, too, along with a general store that sells wood for campfires, among other things.
There are no hook-ups for RVs, but there is a dump station. The campground stays open until the first snowfall, but after the middle of October, limited services are available, and the only facilities are pit toilets. If you hike or ski in the area during the winter, you can use the campground facilities, but you need a permit from the Backcountry Office in the park.
When you visit the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, you'll notice quite a few references to President Theodore Roosevelt including the Rough Rider Saloon, named in honor of the president. Roosevelt's influence on the park is historic for a number of reasons.
Roosevelt designated the park a National Monument in 1908, which ultimately led to the park's national park status, and so, the park's history rests on his shoulders.
In addition, he once said of the park, "Keep this great wonder of nature as it is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, for the ages have been at work upon it. Keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you," and this is probably the most well know and often repeated quote used in connection with the Grand Canyon.
Inside the lobby of the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, you'll see a charming bronze statue of "Brighty," the title character in Margurite Henry's children's tale, "Brighty of the Grand Canyon."
Brighty the burro really did exist. He carried water up the trail from a spring near Bright Angel Creek sometime between 1892 and 1922, and his official name was "Bright Angel," but everyone called him Brighty.
Brighty became an instant hit with children around the world, and a production company even made a film based on the little burro in 1953. Surrounding the statue in the sunroom visitors will find some articles and information about the book, the statue, and the author. It's a tradition that rubbing Brighty's nose will bring good luck.
The Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge in the park today is a close replica of the original lodge built in 1928 that burned to the ground in 1932.
While the main lodge does not completely follow the design of Gilbert Stanley Underwood, the four stone cabins on the very edge of the canyon are his original designs. Underwood is probably most well known for designing the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, but he designed many other national park structures around the west, too.
The most spectacular feature of this National Historic Landmark is the great native stone back porch, complete with rustic rocking chairs and seating for a relaxing view of the canyon. A magnificent picture window gives a view of the porch and the canyon beyond when you enter the lodge's main hall.
The Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge is the only lodging inside the park. There are a few hotels outside the park as far as 45 miles away. The lodge has hotel rooms and several rustic cabins, including the four Gilbert Stanley Underwood designed to match the main structure in 1928.
The main lodge building contains a dining room, saloon, café, and plenty of lobby space to sit and enjoy the magnificent views of the canyon. With a native stone interior, the building has a rustic and yet elegant charm. The views of sunset from the back porch are incredible and not to be missed.