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Camping questions, North Rim of The Grand Canyon

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  #1  
Old 08-07-2011, 08:22 PM
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Default Camping questions, North Rim of The Grand Canyon

Hi fellow campers,
I've been asking a lot of questions and starting new threads. I hope I'm not being a pest or annoying people, but now I have some questions about the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I would love to go see the Grand Canyon. From what I read, they recommend reservations for all the campsites. I want to go in September but I don't have a schedule yet. I don't know if I'll be able to get a campground reserved in time and I wonder what the possibilities are of:
(a) Arriving to actually find an available space or
(b) Being able to do some dispersed camping in the area.

I plan to camp in a tent that fits my truck, so I would theoretically only need a flat area big enough to park my truck. I hope to be pretty much self sufficient in a primitive sort of way. I believe that the North Rim is much less crowded than the South Rim and so maybe more likely to have available space.

I would really appreciate advise or hearing your experience of camping in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Oh yeah, I will come from the East, probably on I-40 so any advise about the route would also be helpful.

Thanks in advance!!
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  #2  
Old 08-08-2011, 12:35 AM
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First, getting to the north rim from I-40 means you'll need to head up hwy 89 which is way east of the Canyon to get to the north side. The north side is higher in elevation by about 1,000 feet and the reason it's not as crowded is because it's a little harder to get to and not set up for scenic outlooks as much as the south rim. This also means places to camp and campsites are fewer to match that it's not as popular.

Cancellations happen all the time, so you can try just driving up early and waiting for cancellations. Just because you only need the space for parking your truck, you can't just park anywhere. Check the regulations for dispersed spots and what's allowed or you run the risk of getting escorted out if not in a legal spot. It sure would be better if you can get an advance reservation. Depending on when in September you plan to be there, good luck finding a spot with such short notice.

If you wait until end of September you won't be competing with the school crowds and their working parents. But you will be competing with empty nesters and foreign tourists.

I've been to both sides (only once on the North Rim).

Good luck to you and I hope you can find and reserve something.



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  #3  
Old 08-09-2011, 10:57 AM
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Most of the family camping will be done by September since most schools start right after labor day or that first week in september. The North Rim is much better for camping then the South rim and I know they used to have trails that you can take to the bottom of the canyon and camp then hike to the south rim but thats like a good 3-5day hike depending on how fast you are moving. I would drop your truck at the north walk to the bottom camp then head to the south resupply and begin back that would be a good trip.
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  #4  
Old 08-09-2011, 05:25 PM
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there is a camp ground about 1 mile or so before you go into the park,me and the wife stayed there in the back of our truck,my advice to most people is to go to the north canyon first,you will walk a little more,but we liked it a little better,not as crowded.
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  #5  
Old 08-09-2011, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hideout View Post
there is a camp ground about 1 mile or so before you go into the park,me and the wife stayed there in the back of our truck,my advice to most people is to go to the north canyon first,you will walk a little more,but we liked it a little better,not as crowded.
How do you approach the park? I mean what roads do you take to get there? I'm not sure how many entrances there are to the park.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeS View Post
Most of the family camping will be done by September since most schools start right after labor day or that first week in september. The North Rim is much better for camping then the South rim and I know they used to have trails that you can take to the bottom of the canyon and camp then hike to the south rim but thats like a good 3-5day hike depending on how fast you are moving. I would drop your truck at the north walk to the bottom camp then head to the south resupply and begin back that would be a good trip.
My tent does not work without the truck. If I hiked for 3~5 days in the bottom of the canyon I'd have to get backpacking gear. It sounds like a great adventure but I'd be afraid to to try it as I've never backpacked before. I could do the hike, but I'm not sure I can carry all my gear....
Can the one hike to the bottom and back in one day?

Last edited by silverz51; 08-09-2011 at 09:53 PM..
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  #6  
Old 08-10-2011, 12:32 AM
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I gave a hint how to get there, but I'll be more specific now that we know you are looking at the North Rim. Take I-40 west, for about 1500 miles (from Atlanta), then in Arizona take Hwy 89 north about 105-110 miles, then turn left onto the Hwy 89 Alt(ernate) and it will swing further north and cross a smaller part of the Grand Canyon to get on the north side, then continue west. In total you will be on Hwy 89A for about 50-60 miles. Then at Hwy 67 head south to the Grand Canyon north rim. I know of some RV campgrounds, but there are some less expensive campgrounds in the area, too. If you need help locating some, just shout out.

If you have never backpacked before I would NOT recommend making this your first one. Day hikes are better and possible but for persons used to HUGE mountains and canyons. The altitude and altitude changes can be downright dangerous. It's a long way down and it will seem like a longer way up. Don't forget you are also 1,000 feet higher on the North Rim to get to the same Colorado River compared to the South Rim. It's not the distance that will bother you, it will be the altitude changes and the steepness, otherwise known as the elevation gains and losses. Those will be brutal. Then you must carry plenty of water along with the other essentials and this can add to the challenge. There is literally no water along the way, so having to carry so much becomes a burden in itself.

Many Eastern "green horns" will arrange for burro or mule rides into the canyon but these can be pricey. This solve much of the hiking and carrying water problems. If this seems not challenging enough you can try partial hikes into the Canyon just to get a feel for heat and the chore. Expect more heat in the Canyon than on the Rim because the air pressure is greater nearer the bottom. There are also Rim hikes you can take if you desire to stay at relatively the same altitudes.



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Last edited by artmart; 08-10-2011 at 12:36 AM..
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  #7  
Old 08-10-2011, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for the great directions! That will help me a lot to plan my arrival time. I totally agree that a hike to the bottom and back up might be outright dangerous for a 65 yr old novice hiker... I'm in pretty good shape and carry very little body fat, but I know how strenuous it can be to exert oneself in terrain like that. The altitude itself will leave me gasping for breath in short order. I remember I went swing dancing with my wife in Reno and was wiped out in a couple of songs! And I was used to dancing all night..
No, I'll probably have to forgo the trip to the bottom this time. However, I can hike around the area as long as I keep it to reasonable distances/terrain. BTW, is this bear country?

Thanks
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2011, 10:58 AM
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Yes, there are Black Bears all over the western States. Contact the Rangers in the area for the best ways to protect your food and follow them to a tee ALL the time. Chances are you should NEVER leave your foodstuffs open and unattended. If your cooler or food locker are open, it better be because someone is using it. Otherwise seal it and put it away each and every time!

Each Ranger controlled area is different and they would know what works. Don't be shy about asking how to do what they suggest.

Fortunately, these bears are the easiest to avoid. They are not confrontational unless you surprise them or get too close. Again, The local Rangers will have the best advice on how to deal with them. I believe some kind of noise maker is enough to ward them off (whistle, air horn) but I hope you only need these during the day or you'll have other campers gonna attack you. At night, yelling or screaming at them should work but you'll probably be sleeping and your "odors" stowed away properly. I wouldn't let them stop you from a fabulous trip.

The terrain around the rim is pretty flat and you can purchase Topographic maps of the area to study and use, or even purchase trail maps, too. Give yourself a couple of days between treks and drink LOTS and lots of water to help with the altitude. Anything with alcohol doesn't count towards the hydration requirement, but imbibe within the rules and regs.



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  #9  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:17 AM
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Thanks, good tips. I am taking my camera and lenses and hope to get some nice photographs. I thought that the area would be fairly flat, It's good to know I was right. I was a little concerned about bears and how to prevent their "visiting" my campsite.. I wonder if the food would be safe in coolers inside the truck and covered up? Also, are there trees around to raise the food/garbage out of bears reach? I will most likely eat out of cans and not do much food preparation other than heating up stuff and water.
What about campfires, would they be allowed in these areas? I could bring some firewood with me. I'm not experienced with campfires, although I use my fireplace a lot, I don't know how to make an effective campfire without using too much firewood. Any tips about that?
Oh, and I will drink as much water as needed. I don't consume alcohol or even soft drinks. However, I am a bit of a coffee addict . I know it's supposed to dehydrate you, but maybe my daily dose wont make a problem...
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  #10  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:33 AM
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Since conditions and wildlife actions can change year to year, it's best to ask the local Rangers what works - bears, wildlife, tree hanging, weather, campfires, etc. Or if you have reserved a campground, then ask what works or is allowed. Hopefully the attendants can help and that attendant isn't a dollar-per-hour jockey who's life is behind a game console and hence can't help you worth a stitch.

Chances are keeping the food in the cab covered with a blanket will work just fine!

Many locations prohibit "outside wood" nowadays since this is one way wood critter infestations start from unsuspecting humans transporting them from place to place, even in firewood. There are lots of trees on the North Rim and they might want to protect them. I agree it's real hard to have a campfire without wood, but some people bring propane powered fake fireplaces, or portable fire bowls and use chemical logs. Call ahead for what's allowed.



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  #11  
Old 08-12-2011, 04:22 PM
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In my younger years me and my father in law hiked from the top to about the middle of the canyon in about 2hours but that was going down and coming back up was about double that. So, it can be done but you would have to get up just before sun break and make some good time to get down. At your age of 65 I'm sure your in good shape but I would not advise the down and back up trip unless your like artmart said in great shape.

As far as the campfire check with the local camp grounds of the status for fire season and open fires. But, if your going to do a campfire I would suggest digging a hole abour 2-3 inches in, surround the fire with good size rocks and keep a jug of water close just in case. I always like to be prepared for anything you just never know whats going to happen with wind and stuff like that.
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  #12  
Old 08-12-2011, 06:04 PM
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I would love to see as much of the canyon topography as possible. It's very tempting to take the hike down the canyon... However, I'm more than a little afraid that it would be biting off more than I can chew.... Ironically I'm probably in better shape than I was at 55. But that's still no guarantee that I can do it safely.
What concerns me is that I have to carry all the water I will need as well as some food and appropriate clothing for the top and the bottom of the canyon (and my camera/lenses). I've never hiked with a back pack.... (don't have one either)
I do work out 4X week, walk almost daily and dance several times a week. I weight almost the same as in my teens and carry little body fat. Still..... That hike sounds extremely challenging. What is likely to happen if I get in trouble of some sort? (blisters, a fall, heat or dehydration, etc.). Can I count on getting some help?

Last edited by silverz51; 08-12-2011 at 06:08 PM..
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  #13  
Old 08-13-2011, 01:59 AM
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You won't be alone so help is close. You'll probably have Cellphone service so you can keep that with you. Don't forget the moleskin or I prefer the thicker molefoam for when you start feeling those "hotspots" on your feet. Tend to them immediately and don't let them fester as you find them.

For a backpack, get a small one with a hydration bladder that holds 2-3 liters of water. Camelbak is a great brand, but I've used others from other makers because they held all my 10 essentials quite nicely. I got one that has a wrap around waist strap to minimize movement and help keep some of the load off the shoulders.

You won't need a full size week long style backpack. About 25 to 30 liter capacity should do.

When you take your walks around the neighborhood use the backpack & hydration bladder and other plumbing to get used to it (if not included get a shutoff for the hose). Fill it with your 10 essentials and some weights to help with getting accustomed to it. I've been using them for years. If you don't have a shutoff for the hydration hose, you'll find the hose will leak on you because of the pressure of the gear in the pack onto the bladder.

If you allow a day or so to get acclimated you should be able to do the hikes at the North Rim. Figure they are well used and designed for casual hikers. I think you will be more advanced than most and certainly more prepared. As far as views, you'll be so surprised how much you'll be able to see. That is one very wide hole in the ground. From rim to rim it's about a mile across and about a mile deep. You will NOT be disappointed!

If you get sore or get some slight headaches, take it slow and drink more water. I use Motrin for pain or any kind of discomfort (aspirin or tylenol didn't work as well for me), and stick to the recommended doses. This is packed in my first aid kit.

I hope these tips help. I am a big proponent of the 10 essentials, but for the first aid kit, you don't need a hospital to bring with you. A few knuckle bandages, some gauze and first aid tape for serious stuff, some neosporin, plenty of moleskin/foam and I have a swiss army knife that has scissors. Tweezers, sunblock, insect repellent (spray for clothing and lotion for face and hands. And of course pain reliever. That's about it.



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Last edited by artmart; 08-13-2011 at 02:03 AM..
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  #14  
Old 08-13-2011, 05:58 PM
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Thanks Artmart, good info. I do have a question. Is it necessary to camp out in the bottom of the canyon to return the next day? Or is it a possible one day trek both ways for a reasonably fit person?
And one more thing. What are your 10 essentials?

Thanks
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  #15  
Old 08-14-2011, 11:46 AM
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Yes, that can be done, but then the weight of what you carry goes way up because you'll need overnight gear and more food & water, etc. It's not the downhill that will get you, it's a very steep uphill. Whatever it took you to get down, it will take triple or more to get back up.

You might try a web search for this information. I seem to recall there are some facilities to allow this, but it's not the downhill where most people struggle, it's the uphill.

It's a one day trek for a very well conditioned person. A reasonably fit person will struggle, mostly because of the extreme downhill and more extreme uphill.

I've posted my 10 essentials in other parts of the forum. I'll look for it and post it here if you want. Others' lists might vary slightly and it also assumes one knows how to interpret the list.

My pack weighs about 10-15 lbs for a same day hike with the 10 essentials. For a weeklong trip it will weigh between 30 and 50 lbs. Overnighters, somewhere about 20 to 35 lbs. Since a Grand Canyon trip means carrying lots of water it would be closer to the high numbers. A water pump is a lot less weight than carrying water but only if there is a water source on the way.

Remember the North Rim trail faces the sun and the lower you go the hotter it gets. It's that noticeable, as told to me from people that have done it. And most of them used the mules.

Here's what friends of mine have tried to get an idea. I am serious about this. Go to a tall building (10 to 15 stories). Starting at the first floor, climb all the stairs to the top. Then use the elevator to get back down. This simulates a climb and rest. Then repeat this 10 times. If you can do this 55 times, then you will do okay. This about simulates a one mile climb out of the canyon, but altitude is not considered, nor is hot climate (if the building is air conditioned) and uneven terrain unlike the same distance stairsteps in the building. You'll get the idea. Then do this with your camera gear and geared up backpack. For a special treat, do this by taking the elevator up and the stairs back down to see how your legs and knees do on the downhill the same amount of attempts.

When you train with this regimen, you'll be ready for a try at the Grand Canyon. don't forget the north rim is about 1/4 mile higher than the south rim.

To not completely be so discouraging, how about a partial descent. Climb down for one to two hours at a steady pace, then climb back out or when you get to 1/4 of your water supply, then turn around. That should be about 5 to 8 hours worth, including rests and picture taking, plus you'll probably be drinking 3 times as much water coming up.



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Last edited by artmart; 08-14-2011 at 11:52 AM..
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