With no reservations or idea where we would stop, we left Zion on October 9, 2017, taking Highway 89 south from Mt. Carmel Junction. Kanab looked like a nice little city as we drove into town, and it would be a good jumping off point for North Rim Grand Canyon. All we had to do was find a place to set up the fifth wheel.
The first park we tried was booked solid for the month. Back toward town, we passed Hitch-N-Post. Although a sign on the street said they had no RV sites, we stopped and asked anyway. Good luck was shining on us that day. A cancellation had come through a few minutes before.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
After situating the rig beside one of the cabins, a short drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was in order. The Dunes became a state park in 1963 providing off-road enthusiasts a place to play. On the look out for the dunes, we drove through areas where juniper, pinyon pine, and Gambel oak were rooted in a soil of beige to pink sand. At an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, even ponderosa pines are found within the park boundaries.
The dunes, formed by wind carrying away eroded Navajo sandstone, are believed to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. The grains of sand have to be the right size to travel the distance from the mountains or plateaus, not too large and not too small.
We walked out onto the observation boardwalk near the visitor center and watched hikers trekking across the ridge and ATVs roaming around with their whip flags flying. It looked like fun, if not a bit dangerous. I would sure hate to see an ATV crest a dune ridge and encounter one of the hikers.
The park includes a campground with 22 spaces, each with a loop drive to provide plenty of parking for RVs and trailers loaded with off-highway vehicles (OHVs). With the convenience of trails leading from the campsites to the dunes and restrooms and showers for the campers to rinse sand off after a day of riding, this campground has it all for avid off-road adventurers.
North Rim – Grand Canyon
The next day we drove 80 miles south of Kanab to North Rim Grand Canyon National Park. We were lucky to have arrived when we did because the lodge and campground were set to close for the winter in four days.
We drove through beautiful forests and meadows noting the aspen had already lost their leaves.
Although North Rim is advertised as the quieter side of the canyon, a campground-full sign sat outside the check-in kiosk and the visitor center and the lodge was teeming with tourists.
We walked around the visitor center and lodge gawking at the view through the panes of glass. On the patio, visitors gathered around a ranger who gave a talk about the Grand Canyon geology.
Then we ventured out along Bright Angel Point Trail for some spectacular views.
I squinted to see if I could make out any of the facilities along the south rim. Even with my 300 mm zoom lens, I could not see anything. I guess the 11.5-mile distance from rim to rim was too far to see such details.
The skies were clear enough, however, to see the San Francisco Peaks popping their heads up across the canyon 64 miles away.
Sitting on the ledge with feet dangling seemed to be a favorite pastime for some visitors. I guess they wanted some alone time.
It seemed as though I could see the depth of the canyon better from the north vantage point. The views from the South Rim are also spectacular, but I think I like the views from the North rim better. They seemed more dramatic somehow. Perhaps the angle of the light created a sense of depth that I never experienced from the perspective of the South Rim.
The North Rim is a place I would like to return to someday to spend more time, assuming we could manage to obtain a reservation. I’d like to hike down into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail.
On our way back to Kanab, the Vermillion Cliffs came into view. Another place we will need to return to. There are several photos on the internet of swirling rock formations at the monument I’d love to see in person.
Join us next week as we hang out in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a few days.