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Grand Canyon - North Rim or South Rim?

Old Jan 10th, 2009, 09:04 PM
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Grand Canyon - North Rim or South Rim?

I've been reading posts for HOURS... still haven't decided. Please let me know your thoughts -
d
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Old Jan 10th, 2009, 11:53 PM
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When are you planning to go?
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 01:10 AM
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Hello,

My Wife and I went to las Vegas last September and we took a few days out to head to the North Rim.

To be honest if we were doing it again, I would have opted for a trip bye the Hoover dam and then onto the South Rim.

I'm presuming here you are starting out from Las Vegas.

We did a LOT of traveling to get there and we cut short our time in Vegas to do so. Just a personal observation, I suppose it depends on what you like. The South Rim would have ticked all the boxes for us I feel now in hindsight.

Good Luck!

P.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 05:31 AM
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We will be traveling mid-June, coming from northeast New Mexico. We will be heading to the glorious state of Utah, and all its wonders.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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...oh, and we will not be doing any hiking/riding in/around the canyon. I'm traveling with my 80 yr. old parents! So I guess we're looking for best 'views'.
Thanks!
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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IMHO, and a majority of (but not ALL) visitors agree, the best views of the Canyon are found at the South Rim. There are two reasons for this:
1) the South Rim is at a lower elevation, thus allowing you to get a better view of the walls of the opposite rim when you peer out.
2) you generally see better when the Sun is behind you, and that's the situation from the South Rim.

People who prefer the North Rim are free to disagree with my assessment.

The North Rim is cooler, more arboreral, less crowded, and has fewer facilities. The latter is a plus or a minus, depending on your point of view.

Of course, if time is a major consideration, you'll save some by going to the North Rim before heading into Utah.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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I agree with everything PaulRabe wrote.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 12:21 PM
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The views are very different from the North and South Rim, but both are glorious.

From the South Rim, you are right on the edge of the main canyon, so you get a broad, expansive view, including many of the formations within the canyon. There is a level paved path along the rim in front of the hotels and extending for a mile or more to the east (although not sure if it is paved all the way). There is a free shuttle that will take you to various viewpoints to the west. Both of these features are good for older less mobile visitors. Both the path and the shuttle can be very crowded at times. There are shops to visit, six different lodges inside the park, and a fair choice of places to eat.

The single lodge at the North Rim sits on a peninsula that juts out into a side canyon. You can see the walls and formations of the side canyons, and across to the South Rim, but you do not get the broad view of the main canyon that you do from the South. There is a paved level path out to Bright Angel point (1/4 mile), which is a very fine viewpoint. There is a nice unpaved but level trail along the side canyon known as the Transept. But other viewpoints are reached by driving, some by driving a considerable distance. On the other hand there are two nice decks at the lodge where one can just sit and soak in the views and the changing colors and light. There are far fewer people. The higher altitude means that it is cooler, but some find the thin air troublesome. There are only two choices for places to eat (the restaurant and the deli), unless you want to do the "cookout" or drive out of the park, a long way.

I have to question one of PaulRabe's comments:

"You generally see better when the Sun is behind you, and that's the situation from the South Rim."

In the summer, wouldn't the sun be in the northern sky, and thus not behind one standing at the South Rim?
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 12:50 PM
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This helps a lot - thanks! Both parents have had knee replacement... but they can do level paved/graveled paths. Appreciate the info -
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 05:44 PM
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About where the sun is in the northern hemisphere in June:

At mid-day, the sun is in the south. Depending on how far north you are, it is in the north at sun-rise and sun-set. The farther north you are on the globe and the closer you are to June 21st, the farther northeast will be the sunrise and the farther northwest will be the sunset, and the longer will the time is more north than south.

So, basically, during most of the day in the northern hemisphere, the sun will be south of where you stand.

At least, that's been my experience in over thirty years of photography, where I make every effort to ensure I'm not shooting into the sun (except for ocean sunsets).

If someone wants to point out that you shouldn't take photos in mid-day, feel free. But that's when most people are actually standing at the Rim, when you don't want to be looking in the direction of the sun.
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Old Jan 11th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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That sun can be so fickle!
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:58 AM
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I've been to both and I'd have to say that for the wow factor, the South Rim wins. You get a much better sense of the sheer magnitude of the canyon from the south rim. It is definitely busier than the north rim, but looking out into the canyon is just awesome and the other tourists don't really detract from that. also, the rim trail is very nice and easy to walk.

I found that the viewshed from the north rim is much more constrained, although it was lovely to be in the pine trees and the coolness of the higher elevation.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 08:41 AM
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Thanks for the explanation, PaulRabe. I have always lived in more northern latitudes (as far north as 65 degrees), where the summer-winter north-south variations are more extreme. In central Alaska, the sun rises and sets a few degrees on either side of true north. In between, it makes a kind of horseshoe-shaped swing around the sky. It is really confusing, especially to tourists!

As for the Grand Canyon, I have only been there in spring and fall, close to the Equinox, when the sun stays closer to the east-west track.

As for views from the North rim versus the South---having hiked down in to the canyon several times, including from one rim to the other, I actually prefer the view form the North rim because it is more "mysterious" --- You can't see the whole canyon, and you have to imagine the look of the north side in your mind's eye. You can see across to trace both the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails, but the light has to be right.

For most visitors, as PaulRabe and telechick point out, the spectacular view from the South rim is what they came to see. The South Rim is also more "user friendly", with that paved path along the rim and all the dining choices, and it is easier to book accommodation there. It is very possible that the Grand Canyon Lodge, the only lodge at the North Rim, is already booked up for mid-June.
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