Grand Canyon North Rim/South Rim

Dec 17th, 2001, 07:07 AM
Posts: n/a
Grand Canyon North Rim/South Rim

My wife and I are going to be in AZ the last 2 weeks of May, 2002. I would like to make Grand Canyon the focal point of our trip.

I've heard good things about the North Rim and plan to stay in a Frontier Cabin @ Grand Canyon Lodge. Anyone know anything about those?

We also want to camp on the south rim. Should I go with Mather? Also, what's weather like late may?

Thanks a lot!!! We are from the east coast and have never been to any of the National Parks out west. Very Excited.
Dec 17th, 2001, 07:37 AM
Posts: n/a
I camped at both Mather and the North
Rim last year over Memorial Day weekend. Mather is fine, very very large but fairly pleasant among sparse pine forest.

The campground, especially the sites toward the back, are a long walk from the rim - don't expect a canyonside view from your tent. But I think it's worth it to avoid the parking/driving hassles that exist even in May. Be sure to get up before dawn and walk down to the rim to watch the sun come up.

Showers and laundry are available at the campground entrance, and there are shops for groceries/camping supplies and several restaraunts in the Canyon Village.

The weather should be quite nice. The South Rim is at 7000ft, and the North Rim is 1000 ft higher, so you will have the warm days, cool nights typical of such altitudes.
Dec 17th, 2001, 11:39 AM
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I was at North rim last Memorial Day. There are two kinds of cabins - can't remember the names but you can figure out which by the price. The one kind looks fairly new, large with porches and fireplace. The other kind (which I stayed in) was very small - there was a double bed, single bed and I think a desk (and believe me this furniture took up virtually all of the floor space). During the day the weather was quite nice but it was really chilly at night. There is a huge outdoor fireplace at the lodge. We wanted to do the evening walk but it was too cold since we didn't have jackets.

You don't say how you're getting to the North Rim but I definitely would suggest taking Alt 89 from Jacob Lake to the Navaho Bridge (you have to go this way if your coming from the South Rim but it's a little out of your way if your coming/going to Las Vegas. ANyway, on this road which is very scenic (strange rock formations) you can cross over the Grand Canyon. Navaho Bridge is the only crossing of the Canyon. There is a pedestrian bridge as well as a car bridge. If you take the turn off to Lees Ferry you can see where the Canyon raft trips start. There's a parking lot before this where you can walk down to the River and actually wade in if you want. What was amazing to me was that here there is no canyon walls and at Navaho Bridge which probably isn't even a mile away your on top looking down at the River.
Dec 17th, 2001, 12:34 PM
Bob Brown
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My vote is for the south rim, although I like the north rim for the previously mentioned reasons. For the first time visitor, I recommend the south rim because because I think that you can see into the canyon better from there. The West Rim Drive is a particularly good place to view the canyon. A shuttle bus goes out to Hermit's Rest with frequent stops for viewing. You can ride to a viewing area, get off, look a while, even ride to the next viewpoint along the rim, and then get back on and ride.
What my wife and I have done several times is to walk between several of the bus stops where we had the canyon rim too ourselves. There are also many more viewpoints to the east of the main housing area along the rim.
The north rim, while beautiful because of a splendid ponderosa pine and aspen forest, has fewer viewpoints.
I like the cabin accommodations at the north rim better, but I do feel that your opportunities to view the canyon are superior on the south rim.
The north rim should be open in June; we were there in mid May and it was already quite warm. The north rim is indeed somewhat cooler because it is an average of a 1,200 feet higher than the south rim. This feature alone because of adiabatic expansion would make the north rim 3.7 degree cooler.
(The calculation is based on a change of 5.6 degrees Celsius per 1 kilometer of vertical height differential.
That figures out to about 10 degrees per 3,280 feet, or about 3 degrees per thousand.)
Despite the fact that you can see one side from the other, it is a long drive between rims because the road must take a huge detour.
Dec 18th, 2001, 04:13 AM
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"adiabatic expansion"? Has the NPS enclosed the North Rim in a perfectly-insulating wall since I visited two years ago?

I thought the North Rim was cooler because there were fewer tourists. That's the reason why Florida stays warm in winter, right?
Dec 18th, 2001, 06:42 AM
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I'm partial to the North Rim because it's less crowded, but you should be in good shape, tourist-wise, in your intended travel time at both North and South Rims. We've been at the North Rim twice in May- first time in 1999, and again in 2001. We have seen snow on the side of the road both times, but the road and Kaibab hiking trail were fine- no problems. My outfit for this time of year would be layers- a pair of those zip-off pants (that convert into shorts), a long-sleeve t-shirt (preferably DriFit or lightweight Capilene), and a fleece vest. I don't know weather terminology, but it's cold in the a.m., warm by mid-morning, and if you're hiking back up the Kaibab Trail in the afternoon, it can be quite warm (wear a hat!) I think the frontier cabins are the ones on the right hand side of the lodge as you face it. The ones closest to the lodge seem to be used primarily by tour buses- so they see a lot of turnaround. As previous poster said, they are quite small. The cabins on the lefthand side of the lodge are nicer, IMHO, but hey, we have never stayed in the room enough to care one way or the other. (We've stayed in the "left-hand" cabins and the motel-looking building; my inlaws were in the right-hand cabins.) Be sure to make your dinner reservations well in advance before you go. North Rim is remote, so the lodge dining room is the only game in town. You are going to love your trip. Enjoy!
Dec 18th, 2001, 08:16 AM
Bob Brown
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This has nothing to do with travel, but I do feel that I need to respond to an intellectual situation.
My physical chemistry lessons were learned from my father, who was a professor of physical chemistry for his adult life. So let me see how well I remember my lessons. (It has been a long, long time.)
If you are going to measure exactly the effects of adiabatic expansion, which by definition does not involve external heat loss or gain, you do indeed need a controlled environment. the atmosphere is hardly a place for highly controlled experimentation. Meterologists refer to changes in the atmospheric temperature as the adiabatic lapse rate which is a function of an expanding gas. Warm air rises and, as it does. it expands. Also the temperature of any gas drops with expansion. How much so is a function of many atmospheric factors, chief among which is the fact that the atmosphere is of course warmed by the sun in the day time. Moisture also plays a major role. Therefore atmospheric temperature change values at different elevations have been established through empirical measurement.
The rate of change is greater for dry air than it is for moist air.
Dry air can actually change up to 10 degrees C per K through expansion. The moist adiabatic lapse rate is about 6 degrees C per vertical K.
The only way to get a good measurement for a given environment and parcel of air is through a ballon born thermomenter. Meteorologists experimented using ballons and have established some adiabatic evironmental lapse rate figures. All of these of course are a function of the history of the parcel of air being measured. A common rate cited in various books is 5 degrees C per vertical K. The air is relatively dry at the Grand Canyon, so a 5.6 degree figure is the one I found in a reference a while back and one my day commonly used when thinking about the subject.
I have seen figures for dry air stated at 10 degrees C per vertical meter of elevation differential.
That is 18 degree F over about 3,280 vetical feet or about 5.5 degrees per thousand. So the difference in temperature between the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon may well be closer to 5 degrees than to 3 degrees.
Fahrenheit of course. Thus my original figure is subject to a little upward revision, depending on whether or not it is raining.
Now that I have bored you all to death, and caused many eyes to glaze over with a "who the he.. cares" reaction, I shall happily let the matter die.
This kind of thinking in retirement causes me to perspire. And I quit that years ago. But it does help keep the mind sharp.


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